Speeding ahead with a rear-view vision: the looming crisis of air pollution in Africa

By Dr Rana Roy, Consulting Economist, author of The Cost of Air Pollution in Africa, OECD Development Centre Working Papers, 2016

who-global-map
WHO Global map of modelled annual median concentration of PM2.5

Africa is speeding toward a new crisis: an explosive increase in air pollution, with all its human and economic costs.

Africa is by no means alone in suffering the modern curse of air pollution. No less than 92% of the world’s population is now exposed to pollution levels exceeding World Health Organisation limits.[1] Nor is Africa “over-represented” in the global death toll from air pollution as it stands today. The total of premature deaths attributable to each of the two main types of air pollution, ambient particulate matter pollution (APMP) and household air pollution (HAP), stood at around 3 million.[2] Of these, Africa accounted for around 250,000 premature deaths from APMP, less than its share of the global population would suggest, and over 450,000 premature deaths from HAP, roughly in line with its share. In comparison, it is China, with its 900,000 deaths from APMP and 800,000 deaths from HAP that dominated the global death toll in 2013. Continue reading