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Digital Tech Can Help African Island States Cope With Climate Change

Digital Tech Can Help African Island States Cope With Climate Change

Investing in digital technologies can help African small island developing states (SIDS), vulnerable to extreme weather events, cope with growing impacts of climate change, says the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Cape Verde, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe and the Seychelles are the African members of the SIDS, a grouping of 38 countries located in the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

The increased risk of natural disasters, coupled with sea level rise, which accompanies climate change makes African SIDS particularly vulnerable because their economies are anchored on tourism and fisheries, according to Jean-Paul Adam, Director of Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resource Management at the ECA.

In an interview, Adam added that opportunities for economic diversification are limited for African SIDS due to their distance from markets and lack of economies of scale. Besides, access to development finance in the form of grants and loans from institutions like the World Bank and bilateral donors is challenging. This type of finance is determined by the GDP per capita — the amount of income generated by an average person in a given area in a specific year.

Owing to their small populations, Adam noted, SIDS are disadvantaged from accessing this funding because they are more likely to have a higher GDP per capita. One high net worth individual in such a small population can skew the overall result much more than in a large one.

While African countries risk losing up to 15 percent of their GDP to climate change by 2030, according to an analysis by the ECA’s African Climate Policy Centre, a major climate disaster could completely wipe out the economies of African SIDS, Adam said.

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