Africa’s New Climate Economy: Economic Transformation and Social and Environmental Change

Milan Brahmbhatt, Russell Bishop, Xiao Zhao, Alberto Lemma, Ilmi Granoff, Nick Godfrey and Dirk Willem te Velde, November 2016


Africa’s “Growth Miracle” in the 21st century has reversed a long standing narrative of pessimism about the region. It has emboldened hope for the future. GDP growth reached around 5% annually from 2001-2014. Rates of extreme poverty fell substantially.

Yet big challenges remain. Growth slumped in 2015 and 2016. The region lags far behind on most measures of human development. And climate change is taking an increasing toll on many countries: the region is warming faster than the world as a whole, and many areas will experience more frequent and intense droughts and floods. The economic impacts of climate change are expected to be severe, with agriculture and poor people especially at risk.

In this uncertain environment, policymakers in African countries and Pan- African institutions – the African Union in its “Agenda 2063”, the African Development Bank, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa – have identified economic transformation as a critical strategy to help boost the pace of inclusive growth in decades to come.

This report aims to help decision-makers take stock of the extraordinarily rich experience of recent years and draw lessons for the future. The choices made now will have implications for the decades ahead. This report lays out five key action areas for economic transformation and social and environmental progress in Africa: getting the fundamentals right, transforming agriculture and land use, diversifying into manufacturing and other high-productivity sectors, unleashing the power of urbanisation and fostering a modern energy transition.

This report was produced in collaboration with The New Climate Economy, part of The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. 

Media and other coverage

Financial Nigeria, 4 November

Business & Financial Times (Ghana), 4 November

CleanTechnica, 6 November

Icoopera: knowledge for development (Spain) – 4 November

Capital Ethiopia, 15 November

Structural transformation and climate change in Africa – Alberto Lemma (blog, SET)

Confronting climate change: Africa’s leadership on an increasingly urgent issue – Russell Bishop (blog/book chapter, Brookings Institute)

Five ways Africa can build a new climate economy – Milan Brahmbhatt and Joel Jaeger (blog, WRI Insights)

In Africa green growth transition benefits outweigh costs by 3:1 – Global Catholic Climate Movement

Afrique sub-saharienne : 5 voies de transition économique pour réduire le risque climatique –

Figures of the week: COP22 and climate action in sub-Saharan Africa – Amy Copley (blog, Brookings Institute)

Photo credit: Flickr/James Anderson