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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Adam Hamilton

Understanding the effects of GDP growth on the six largest sub-Saharan African countries and the implications to CO2 emissions in the region.
The sub‐Saharan African (SSA) region must make economic development a first priority if it is to achieve regional human development goals. In 2014, just six African nations made up 75% of total GDP within the SSA region, namely Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia. This research estimates total 2030 total CO2‐e emissions for the six largest SSA economies in sub‐Saharan Africa across five development scenarios. These development scenarios considered different GDP growth types, energy supply development options, and 100% off‐grid modernization within each nation. Regional CO2‐e emissions were studied us‐ ing a Multi‐Regional Input‐Output Model for Africa.  The vast array of energy resources within each nation allows many alternative energy path‐ ways to achieve forecast GDP growth, develop additional energy supply capacity, and mod‐ ernisation of the energy system. Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Kenya and Ethiopia will not be able to reduce 2030 total CO2‐e emissions to below 2012 levels, whilst simultaneously achieving forecast GDP growth and universal modernised energy access. 100% off‐grid modernisation is estimated to require a three‐fold increase in TPES and a 26% (1317 Mt) increase in total 2030 CO2‐e emissions across the five regions. The existing economic struc‐ ture of these nations means that GDP growth is inextricably linked with access to additional energy supply. Any delay in additional energy generation capacity to the economies of South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia will be a major constraint on future GDP growth forecasts, but less so far Angola.  The high carbon intensity of current energy and agricultural sectors provides the op‐ portunity for new policy with strong incentives to shift these five nations onto a lower carbon GDP growth path. Under a low carbon development pathway and meeting a 50% renewable energy target by 2030, total 2030 CO2‐e emissions could be reduced by as much as 10‐35%. Total CO2‐e emissions reductions would be reduced further with agricultural sector GHG emissions reduction in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya. The agri‐ cultural sector is the largest contributor of GHG emissions within these three nations.