The end of GDP, Madagascar’s vanilla, Africa’s halal tourism

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Changing climate

There has been a lot of geopolitical and real science opprobrium thrown the way of US president Donald Trump for his plan to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. Many find the decision frustrating and troubling for future of the planet. But there’s some upside too. We’re all talking about it.

In fact, we’re not just talking about it, we’re asking about it, we’re learning about it and we’re getting a better understanding of some of the possible consequences of climate change. Just like with Brexit or the election of Trump himself, there’s been an Africa angle on climate change. But unlike this historic Brexit of Trump election, the climate change discussions have been far more urgent.

That’s because climate change is already hurting millions of people in Africa with so many people relying on their land to earn a living. As we note this week, seven out of the world’s 10 countries considered the most threatened by climate change are in Africa. African countries contribute just 3.8% to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (China alone contributes 23%, while the US produces 19%). Yet Africa will still bear the brunt of global warming. Climate change has also been closely linked to a likely increase in conflict in many African countries as people battle more intensely for the limited resource of fertile land and water.

But it’s not simply a land or rural farmers issue. Take southern Africa, where the last couple of years have seen droughts devastate countries including Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe among others. We know it’s affected harvests in those countries as lakes and rivers dry up. But it also affects key energy sources for some of those countries with hydroelectric power.

Urban areas are increasingly even countries see a shift to the cities. Cape Town has been running low on water and also suffering from bush fires . Meanwhile over in West Africa, coastal cities like Lagos and Abidjan, have the opposite problem of drought with major flooding with rising sea levels and unusually heavy rainfall. Cities already underserved with poor infrastructure for much smaller population sizes are easily overwhelmed.

Scientists need support with projects like this simple, but important one in southern Africa which keeps track of the changes in the environment by engaging ‘citizen scientist’ photographers. In Egypt farmers are learning to retool for the changing environment.

But these projects require investment, no matter how small. African countries especially need funds agreed in the Paris climate accord to expand clean energy and deal with climate change. As we noted this week, by 2050, the costs of adapting to climate change may cost Africa as much as $50 billion a year. That’s assuming international efforts keep global warming below 2°C this century continue.

They must continue.

Yinka Adegoke, Quartz Africa editor

Stories from this week

It’s time to end our obsession with GDP and economic growth. Our economies have been designed to grow and grow and in the process make the pie bigger for all of us. That might be true sometimes, but it’s often not as inequality and other non-measured factors worsen. Lorenzo Fioramonti argues that for all its power and popularity, it’s time to rethink the “growth first” model.

Fixing Nigeria’s ports could help boost its struggling economy. The global slump in oil prices and the lack of economic diversification has kept the Nigeria’s economy mired in a deep recession for five quarters. But a new executive order to reduce official red tape and rid the ports of corruption could promote efficiency, help boost business and encourage diversification of the country’s economy, writes Yomi Kazeem.

Climate change in Madagascar is denying the world of vanilla. The island nation of Madagascar  produces 80% of the vanilla that is consumed across the world. But as Lynsey Chutel reports, a mix of tropical storms and growing criminal activity are pushing the prices up and driving the crop quality down.

Web searches in Africa mostly bring up results from the United States and France. Early advocates of the internet’s democratizing power believed it would give people a platform to produce content about their own communities and countries. Yet that’s not the case as a new study shows that Google search results about Africa come from the global north, writes Lily Kuo.

Aid workers are still not getting safety training to serve in dangerous countries. At 23 and fresh out of college, Elettra Pauletto was sent to the DR Congo to work as a humanitarian worker with no training or safety measures. But as shown by the killing in DRC of two UN experts and their interpreter this year, aid workers are still deploying with still no safety skills.

Africa looks to cash in on the global appetite for halal tourism. An estimated 117 million Muslims traveled internationally in 2015, with that number expected to grow to 168 million by 2020, with travel expenditures exceeding $200 billion. Once a niche industry, some African countries are getting a jump on Muslim-friendly tourism, Abdi Latif Dahir reports.


East Africa drove Africa’s economic growth in 2016. Despite economic headwinds, Africa retained its position as the second-fastest growing continent globally. But while regions like North Africa recorded average growth rates and West Africa slowed, it was the east African economies that pushed the continent’s performance forward.

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Other Things We Liked

A look at the numbers and issues behind Kenya’s upcoming elections. The 2017 Kenyan presidential elections will be another two horse-race between Raila Odinga and the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta. With under two months to the poll date, Ken Opalo analyzes the government’s record, the opposition’s big coalition, voter turnout, and which of the two candidates is the favorite to win.

The key to saving Somalia is gathering dust in the British countryside. English ecologist Murray Watson led a groundbreaking climate adaptation effort in Somalia, a country that is among the most vulnerable to climate change—and to the conflict that often follows in its wake. Laura Heaton writes in Foreign Policy about how after spending his life developing the blueprint, Murray vanished without a trace—and how his legacy may be intertwined with the fate of Somalia itself.

Keep an eye on

Afrobytes Tech Conference (June 8-9). The African tech industry conference will take place in Paris, and will bring industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors to explore business opportunities between the African tech ecosystem and players in the global world.

Nigeria to release unemployment and foreign trade figures. (June 5-6). Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics will publish the Q4 2016 unemployment report on Monday (June 5), besides Q1 of the foreign trade in goods on Tuesday (June 6).

Our best wishes for a productive and thought-filled week ahead. Please send any news, comments, suggestions, vanilla beans and top halal tourist spots to You can follow us on Twitter at @qzafrica for updates throughout the day.

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