By 2035, the regions of Asia, the Middle East-North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa will have more than 5,000 people per km of coastal length.
What are the challenges for the African coast
Today, Africa must face a triple assault on its oceans and coastal waters.
The first is urban population growth. Of the 54 countries in Africa, 38 are coastal. They are home to varied and diverse ecosystems, such as lagoons, deltas, mountains, wetlands, mangroves, coral reefs and plateau areas.
A large percentage of Africa’s urban population, especially in West Africa, lives in coastal cities. By 2035, the regions of Asia, the Middle East-North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa will have more than 5,000 people per km of coastal length.
The 2020 estimate of the African coastal population, in thousands within 100 km of the coast, is approximately 103,900 (44,545 for the North Africa-Middle East region and 59,363 for Sub-Saharan Africa). This estimate is expected to increase from 2020 to 2035 by 18% and 42%, respectively, according to UN and Africa population experts. This population growth rate will far exceed the world average which, for example, is only 1% in Europe.
The rapid growth of the coastal population, coupled with limited financial and natural resources, will make it difficult to achieve sustainable development.
On this trajectory, by 2035, an estimated 143 million additional people living on or near Africa’s coasts will contribute to marine pollution, overfishing and loss of natural habitatsexacerbating their exposure to frequent and violent climatic variations.
Sea level rise is another challenge. A projected one meter rise in sea level will create conditions that will lead to significant negative impacts on regional coastal and marine tourism, economies, ecology and natural habitats.
Located at sea level, major African cities such as Banjul, Abidjan, Tabaou, Grand Bassam, Sassandra, San Pedro, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Alexandria are particularly at risk
Countries with low lagoon coastlines in North, West and Central Africa, including Egypt, Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and Angola will be strongly susceptible to erosionas the sea level rises.
storm surges, extreme floods and storms are rocking the west coast of Africa today. While eastern coastal areas experience calmer conditions throughout the year, rising sea levels and climatic variabilities put corals and coral reefs at risk, and sea salt intrusions on land agriculture reduce the quality and quantity of yields.
The sooner we act to mitigate the effects of climate change, by switching to clean and renewable energy, the better off we will all be.
A third danger to our coastal environments worries public health officials and scientists: biogeographic risks. Growing dense urban populations and burgeoning industrial development create conditions conducive to waterborne public health epidemics, such as cholera, typhoid, malaria, etc.
As climate change increases precipitation, storm surges and sea temperatures, flooding and runoff can spill sewage and chemicals into the drinking water supply and cause the overflow of waste management systems.