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Africa Could Feed and Fuel the World

Two recent articles point to the scientific realities of the African continent and the potential it has for tremendously enhancing the sustainability of the growing world population. The first, published last year argues that the vastly uninhabited regions of the northern continent where the Saraha desert stretches, could be used to build massive solar farms that could theoretically power the whole planet. The second, published more recently suggests that Africa could also feed most of the worlds population with it’s vast stretches of fertile soil and uninhabited land.

When it comes to plans for solar, the concept would be to build a massive solar grid, using hydro-electric backup generators in the Mediterranean region to power Europe. The image above taken from shows just how little land it would take to power the entire world. The smaller box would be sufficient for contemporary Germany, the middle box represents powering the populations of the countries in the European Union and the largest box represents the land it would take to power the entire planet.

Here’s a mock-up of what the finished grid would look like.

The other report, suggests that there’s enough unused land on the planet, particularly in African and Latin America, to sustain the world population indefinitely.

“Some 1.6 billion hectares could be added to the current 1.4 billion hectares of crop land [in the world], and over half of the additionally available land is found in Africa and Latin America,” concludes the report, compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Models for producing new crop land already exist in Thailand, where land originally deemed agriculturally unpromising, due to irrigation problems and infertile soil, has been transformed into a cornucopia by smallholder farmers.

As in Thailand, future success will come by using agriculture to lift Africa’s smallholder farmers out of poverty, aided by strong government measures to guarantee their rights to land, say both reports.

AU’s Leadership Needed

The reality is that as various countries around the globe realize this (and as it becomes more necessary to sustain their own growing populations) there is very little to stop them from attempting to do so. It’s a logical, viable solution to one of the world’s rapidly growing problems. Foreign governments will shake a few hands and sign a few deals with African leaders, some of whom have historically simply been looking for the quickest way to subsidize their private jets and Swiss bank accounts. What will it take for this to happen while ensuring that Africa benefits from it’s own resources? The blame will fall squarely on the shoulders of AU leaders if they can’t see far enough ahead to make mutually beneficial deals fall into place.

After all, we don’t want a continent-wide repeat of Madagascar.

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