On January 22, 2012 at 6:00 am in the morning, Ethiopians living in the Efoyta Market neighborhood in Addis Ababa woke up to a burning five-story building. More than 13 hours later, the fire had killed two people, destroyed 65,000 square miles including several homes and businesses, and produced damages amounting to ETB 20 million ($1 million), a huge amount in a country where nearly 30% of the population live on less than $1.90 a day.
From a young age we are taught that fires are dangerous and to be avoided. Yet, in many parts of the world, especially in Africa, fire is a well-known phenomenon. Our recent study titled Africa: the Fire Continent—commissioned under the TerrAfrica partnership—shows that many plant species and ecosystems in Africa benefit from fire and, indeed, need fire to remain healthy. It suggests that the deliberate use of fire must be an integral part of landscape management tools to preserve the health of Africa’s drylands.
Climate change and food insecurity could shape Africa’s future.
I already see evidence of this during my travels across Sub-Saharan Africa, where high levels of poverty, highly variable and unpredictable weather, limited livelihood options, weak infrastructure, insufficient access to productive resources, and scarce safety nets all combine to make Africans even more vulnerable to climate risks.
There has been an increase in attention on Africa’s changing population. Academics, development organizations and the media (among others, BBC, The Guardian, Financial Times, The Economist) have highlighted Africa’s late demographic transition – the population is young and will remain so for a long time, as fertility rates are not falling there at the same rate as they have fallen in the rest of the world.
Les personnes fortunées empruntent pour financer leurs investissements car les banques leur font confiance. Ceux qui ont moins de moyen, et qui ont donc davantage besoin de prêts, n'y ont pourtant pas accès et font souvent appel à la solidarité familiale ou communautaire pour leurs investissements. La même logique peut être faite à l’échelle des pays. Ceux à revenu élevé empruntent, tandis que les pays africains à revenu faible n'ont qu'un accès limité aux marchés de capitaux.
The wealthy can borrow money to finance their investment needs because bankers trust them. Those who are less well off, and who need loans the most, do not have this access and must call upon the solidarity of their family and community to finance their investments. The same logic can be used at the country level. High income countries borrow, while many poor African countries have a limited access to international capital markets. In recent years, only one fourth of sub-Saharan African countries were able to issue international bonds—and do not have any other alternative but to solicit international aid.
« La mentalité des jeunes Sénégalais est en train de changer. Ils n’attendent plus que le travail leur tombe du ciel, ils prennent les choses en main et créent des emplois pour eux-mêmes et les autres comme eux. » C’est Thierno Niang qui parle et ses propos ont trouvé une résonance particulière en moi. Cet entrepreneur social de 30 ans a cofondé avec d’autres jeunes Rev’evolution, un incubateur de start-up autofinancé. Je l’ai rencontré lorsque je recrutais des modérateurs pour le Forum sur l’emploi, la formation et l’inclusion des jeunes : partage des connaissances en Afrique subsaharienne, premier événement du genre organisé par le bureau de la Banque mondiale au Sénégal.
“The mentality of youth in Senegal is changing. These days, young Senegalese aren’t waiting for job opportunities to fall from the sky. They are actively working towards creating them for themselves, and for other youth.” These words, spoken by 30 year old Thierno Niang, a social entrepreneur and co-founder of Rev’evolution, a youth run, self-funded start up incubator, struck a chord with me. Thierno and I were discussing his role as a panel moderator for the Youth Forum on Employment, Training, and Inclusion: A Knowledge-Sharing Event for Sub-Saharan Africa, the first ever youth event of its kind organized by the World Bank office in Senegal.