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Spotlight on the Environment: Sub-Saharan Africa

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Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa has great potential for renewable energy use and has rich natural resources in some countries. But the region has pressing environment-related problems such as climate change vulnerability, diseases made worse by environmental factors, unsustainable resource use, and low state attention to environment priorities.

A heavy environment disease burden

Fig 2.12 - Environmental disease burden in DALY

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green arrowThis map shows the region’s burden of environment-related disease in terms of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). One DALY = one full year of healthy life lost.
green arrowIn poor countries, the diseases most attributable to environmental factors (such as water and sanitation access, indoor air pollution, and climate change) include diarrhea, chest infections, and malaria. Through their effect on malnutrition, in Ghana, water-related infections cause an annual loss in education performance equivalent to 4.9 percent of GDP.
green arrowThe region has high mortality from indoor air pollution. Of the top 10 biomass-dependent countries in 2004, 9 were in Sub-Saharan Africa. The share of biomass in total energy use in D. R. Congo, Tanzania, and Ethiopia was over 90 percent.
green arrowIn 2005, 92 percent of the region’s rural population lacked access to electricity. About 25 GW of new capacity are needed to fill the gap and meet future demand.
Climate change and Sub-Saharan Africa
round bullet The largest agricultural losses from climate change will be in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, making adaptation a very high priority.
round bullet Weather-index insurance, such as provided by the World Bank in Malawi to groundnut and maize farmers, will go a long way to assist farmers.
round bullet Simple steps such as providing bed nets to protect against malaria can reduce the health impact of climate change on poor people.
round bullet Being allowed to trade forest carbon credits in world carbon markets in exchange for preserving forests would strongly benefit many countries in the region.
Low progress on environmental sustainability 
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Eighty percent of countries in the region with available data show poor progress on improved sanitation and 44 percent of the population still lack access to clean water.

MDG7 - F1 - Sub-Sharan Africa - Env

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green arrowCountries such as Angola, Nigeria, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are not saving enough to offset resource depletion and environmental degradation. 
green arrowThe region lost 9 percent of its forest cover between 1990 and 2005. 
green arrowAgricultural land makes up 62 percent of the region’s total natural wealth of $3,900 per capita. But the value of this single largest asset in poor countries has fallen by 31 percent between 1995-2005. With high food prices and low crop yields, the region will need assistance to improve agricultural productivity and food security. 
Sub-Saharan Africa’s potential for renewable energy
Of the 35 countries in the world with the most solar energy potential, 17 are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia and Niger top the list of countries in the region with renewable energy potential. 
Photo credit: Anke Van Wyk | 

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