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Submitted by Ely on
Thanks you Professor Juma for this great post. Thank you for the effort you are putting into VIST. I truly believe VIST will become an African leading technology institute in the near future. Climate-smart infrastructure will seek smart implementation and smart allocation of scarce resources Africa possess. If the Inga power complex in DR Congo can generate about 100.000 MW of hydropower, which is renewable and sustainable energy and capable to supply energy for as many as 500 million households across Africa, then all the African countries along with the World Bank and other stakeholders should focus their maximum effort in getting this smart-infrastructure done and move on other development priorities. But smart-infrastructure alone won't be enough. How green does Africa needs to be green. The entire continent with more than 14% of the world population emits only about 3% of CO2. Libya, South Africa and Seychelles, all upper-middle income countries, are on the top of the list of the African polluters. Forest degradation in the Congo Basin is now major source of CO2 emissions. The primary actors of this deforestation are logging industries from industrialized countries that obviously have money to acquire adequate infrastructure. Yet, a couple of months before the COP15 and the intense REDD discussions, millions acres of DRC's rainforest have been allocated to the same major logging industries. Land grab is now a new phenomenon in many African countries today. These large-scale acquisitions of farmland in Africa happen to be seen by some people as a neo-colonialism, with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people. In some countries the deals have created civil conflict and huge political instability. Many other of course are seeing this as a new development opportunity. Africa's development opportunities will occur only when governments will start placing sustainable development at the centre of its decision-making. Weather in logging industry (seen by many as evil), large-scale land acquisition (seen as a neo-colonialism), or in climate-smart economies (even if we are climatically the smartest until now with only 3% of the global emissions), the leitmotiv should place the well-being of the population at the highest priority. Governments must be able to negotiate for the benefit of the population and mostly the poorest communities and the indigenous people who totally depend on land and forest. How do they achieve that? By investing first in their own capacity to negotiate first. Africa’s economic performance has been poor since independence. Many empirical studies, including Harvard Prof. Nunn, have found evidence explaining this poor performance in Africa’s history including slave trade and colonial rule. Whether we support such evidence or not, in the scope of completing our demand for historical justice, African continent needs to rethink not only the design of climate-smart policies but also a government-smart leaders. Ely Katembo