Africa Brief

From Algeria to Zimbabwe and countries in between, a weekly roundup of essential news and analysis from Africa. Delivered Wednesday.

Africa Has a Climate Funding Shortfall

The IPCC report highlights a major financing gap for climate adaptation research focused on the continent.

Gbadamosi-Nosmot-foreign-policy-columnist10
Gbadamosi-Nosmot-foreign-policy-columnist10
Nosmot Gbadamosi
By , a multimedia journalist and the writer of Foreign Policy’s weekly Africa Brief.
An aerial view of elephants grazing in Kimana Sanctuary
An aerial view of elephants grazing in Kimana Sanctuary
An aerial view of elephants grazing in Kimana Sanctuary, with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background, is seen in Kimana, Kenya, on March 3, 2021. Stringer/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Africa Brief.

The highlights this week: The latest IPCC report highlights a funding shortfall for climate research on the continent, African countries start official evacuations of their citizens amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, and Libya’s oil production stalls amid a global price surge.

If you would like to receive Africa Brief in your inbox every Wednesday, please sign up here.

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Africa Brief.

The highlights this week: The latest IPCC report highlights a funding shortfall for climate research on the continent, African countries start official evacuations of their citizens amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, and Libya’s oil production stalls amid a global price surge.

If you would like to receive Africa Brief in your inbox every Wednesday, please sign up here.


Africa’s Climate Funding Shortfall

African countries have suffered some of the world’s heaviest burdens from the climate crisis, including heat waves, droughts, and floods. Those effects will undoubtedly worsen in the next decade, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released last week. But compared to other regions, Africa receives the least funding for research to prepare for that future; investments in climate resilience projects on the continent fall short by billions of dollars.

The IPCC predicts that people and species won’t be able to cope with the rising temperatures in some parts of Africa, and that glaciers on the continent’s most spectacular mountains, such as Mount Kilimanjaro, may disappear in the coming decades. “By 1.5° C global warming, you could be seeing up to around 50 days per year of potential lethal heat in West Africa,” said Christopher Trisos, a lead author of the report and a director of the African Climate and Development Initiative at the University of Cape Town.

The report says that limited finance and data will present obstacles for African countries seeking to adapt to the climate crisis. Since 1990, fewer than 4 percent of total global climate change research funding has focused on Africa, while 78 percent of that funding has gone to researchers in the United States and Europe. Furthermore, African scientists received less than 15 percent of the funds.

Due to this funding gap, Trisos explained, non-African institutions set the research questions, which may focus less on local needs. Since the United Kingdom became the largest research funder for climate adaptation, its grants in Africa have largely supported research in former British colonies. Research on North African countries is the most underfunded, despite the region’s particular vulnerability to drought.

The lack of funding for Africa-based scientists has wide-reaching implications, impeding the development of accurate climate models and early warning systems. There are few regularly reporting weather stations on the continent, for example. “Without those weather stations, you have much less data to work with to develop the scientific models and algorithm that can provide you with early warning systems that people in Europe and North America are used to receiving,” Trisos told Foreign Policy.

Meanwhile, African funding of its own climate research is minimal, leaving critical information behind paywalls for many people on the continent. More research should be open access, since scientists in African institutions often don’t have the resources to access Africa-related studies within American and European journals, leading them to use shadow websites such as Sci-Hub.

Climate change has blunted agricultural productivity growth in Africa more than any other region, according to the IPCC report. Further stresses will affect revenue exports, such as maize, coffee, and tea. More than half of Africans live in dense coastal cities like Lagos, Maputo, and Alexandria. As the climate crisis worsens, damage from sea-level rise to 12 major African cities may reach $86 billion. But less climate funding has been directed toward health, cities, and urban living research, Trisos said.

Africa will need $50 billion to adapt to a warming climate, although some estimates attribute that spend on cooling systems alone to combat extreme heat. Ethiopia, for example, will spend $6 billion annually until 2030 to counter the impact of floods, hailstorms, and wildfires. The IPCC authors suggest that aligning sovereign debt relief with climate goals could increase finance by redirecting debt-servicing payments to climate resilience.

Ultimately, African countries need an all-government approach to resilience financing with clearly defined goals, but more importantly, the research data that informs those future plans must be better aligned to the communities facing climate threats. That can only be done by directly funding researchers in those communities.


The Week Ahead

Friday, March 11: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki in Washington.

Tuesday, March 15: The U.N. Security Council holds a briefing on the U.N. Mission in South Sudan as its mandate ends.

Wednesday, March 16: The United Nations holds a briefing and consultation with the U.N. Support Mission in Libya on sanctions against Libya.


What We’re Watching

Nigerian students evacuated from Ukraine disembark from a chartered plane after landing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Nigeria, on March 4.
Nigerian students evacuated from Ukraine disembark from a chartered plane after landing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Nigeria, on March 4.

Nigerian students evacuated from Ukraine disembark from a chartered plane after landing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Nigeria, on March 4.KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Images

Ukraine evacuations. African governments including Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, Ghana, and Zambia have begun chartered evacuations of their citizens fleeing Ukraine following reports of racism by Ukrainian and Polish border guards and the denial of access to bomb shelters. There were about 76,000 foreign students in Ukraine at the start of the invasion, of which nearly one-fourth were African.

Ghana was the first country to begin evacuations. Its deputy foreign minister held talks with the Hungarian ambassador to Ghana in Budapest on Friday to secure university placements for some Ghanaian medical students stranded in Hungary.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an $8.5 million fund to facilitate the evacuation of at least 5,000 Nigerians from Europe. More than 800 Nigerian citizens arrived in the capital, Abuja, over the weekend, according to the foreign ministry. Officials hope to broker a deal to allow Nigerians to exit via the Russian border, a move also announced by Tanzania’s government.

Tanzania said it has negotiated safe passage assisted by the Russian army for students studying near Kharkiv, according to local reports.

Libya oil production. On Monday, U.N. Special Advisor on Libya Stephanie Williams called for the lifting of a production blockade in two major oil fields in Libya by an armed group, as the prospects of an embargo on Russian oil caused energy prices to soar. “Blocking oil production deprives all Libyans from their major source of revenue,” she wrote on Twitter. Libya has the ninth-largest known oil reserves, but is frequently subject to blockades, hampering its output.

In the latest suspension, an armed group led by Mohamed Bashir al Garj shut down the valves delivering crude oil. Williams has also offered to mediate in Libya’s ongoing parliamentary schism. Last week, Libya’s eastern-based parliament swore in a new parallel government to replace Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah’s administration. Dbeibah, based in Tripoli, has refused to cede power except to an elected government.

Burkina Faso interim government. Paul-Henri Damiba, the self-appointed interim president of Burkina Faso, announced a new government lasting three years of 25 ministers on Saturday, after a military coup on Jan. 23. The group includes Defense Minister Barthelemy Simpore, retaining a position he held under previous leadership. The military junta named economist Albert Ouedraogo as prime minister, in a statement on Thursday.

Simpore’s appointment comes as a surprise because one key reason given for the coup was the poor performance of the armed forces under ousted President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. Simpore guided the army under Kaboré, which was poorly equipped against jihadist groups.


This Week in Culture

Vaccine drive. Nigerian pop star Yemi Alade is now the ambassador for the continent’s coronavirus vaccine drive, led by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A new video for the campaign targets the 60 percent of Africa’s population who are under the age of 25. Alade gained global fame as the first female Afropop artist to garner more than 100 million YouTube views and winning multiple music awards.

Fewer than 13 percent of Africans are fully vaccinated due to initial lack of access and infrastructure challenges. But African countries are now overcoming those constraints. Seven have fully vaccinated around 40 percent of their populations, while Guinea-Bissau and the Ivory Coast have vaccinated more than 15 percent of citizens.


Chart of the Week

Almost all funding for Africa-related climate research originates outside Africa and goes to non-African institutions. International funders should listen to African scientists and “empower them to set the research agenda,” a lead author of a U.N. climate report told Foreign Policy.


What We’re Reading

Frozen accounts. Dozens of African startups had their bank accounts suspended on March 1, Rest of World reports. All were clients of Mercury, a U.S. online bank, which told those affected that its compliance team had flagged the accounts for suspicious behavior. The cause is unclear, but sources at international and Nigerian banks told the outlet that sanctions imposed on Russian financial institutions have spurred banks to review accounts in high-risk jurisdictions worldwide. When this happens, African companies are often caught up.

Zuma backs Putin. In a lengthy statement released by his foundation, former South African President Jacob Zuma backed Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s war in Ukraine. “Ukraine is being used basically as a front, so that Russia can be brought to its knees through unjustifiable sanctions,” he said. Zuma added that Putin’s decision was “justifiable,” accusing Western powers of leaving Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya in ruins

“We all need peace in this world. Therefore, we would like to urge those involved to bring peace as swiftly as possible so that lives can be saved,” the statement said.

Facebook failings. In a deep dive by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, survivors of violence in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia accuse Facebook of allowing alleged activists to incite ethnic massacres. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that the company has known for years that it was helping to fuel tensions in Ethiopia.

Thousands of people have died and more than 2 million people have been forced from their homes since fighting broke out between government forces and armed rebels from the country’s Tigray region in November 2020.

Nosmot Gbadamosi is a multimedia journalist and the writer of Foreign Policy’s weekly Africa Brief. She has reported on human rights, the environment, and sustainable development from across the African continent. Twitter: @nosmotg

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