MOMBASA, Kenya –


Better climate-related research and early warning systems are needed as extreme weather – from cyclones to drought – continues to wreak havoc on the African continent, said Sudanese billionaire and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim, who leads his own foundation.


“We don’t have a voice in global climate discussions because we lack strong research capabilities,” Ibrahim told The Associated Press. Ibrahim said Africa must help “shape the agenda” at the upcoming UN climate conference in Egypt in November, known as COP27.


He added that weather stations across the country were sparse and unevenly distributed, leading to “critical” gaps in climate data.


Experts say having a higher frequency of reliable data can help predict and plan for future extreme weather events, thereby mitigating their impact on human life.


Earlier this year, a UN report by leading climate scientists said that the determination of climate change risks on the continent “currently relies on evidence from global studies that largely use data from from outside Africa. The panel said global data, while good at estimating averages across the globe, lacks the specifics African nations need to determine how vulnerable they are and how they can best adapt.


Regions of Central and North Africa have been singled out by the UN meteorological agency as the most affected by the lack of weather data, which it says leads to significant margins of error in prediction of precipitation trends.


This year, Africa has experienced severe drought in the Horn and East Africa, extreme heat in the north of the continent, while the southern Africa region has been hit by intense cyclones.


The Mo Ibrahim Foundation estimates that some of the countries most vulnerable to extreme weather in the world are in Africa, with 20% of the continent’s population most at risk. A report published by the foundation also estimates that around 10 million people across the continent are already displaced, at least in part, due to climate change.


Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tasked the World Meteorological Organization with ensuring that “every person on earth is protected by early warning systems” within five years. Currently, only 22% of weather stations in Africa meet the reporting requirements of the Global Climate Observing System. The UN meteorological agency is expected to present an action plan on how to achieve its five-year goal at COP27.


Evans Mukolwe, a former UN meteorologist, said that in addition to weather station installations and ocean observations, there is also an urgent need to retrieve historical data for African countries to inform future forecasts. Mukolwe, who is now climate and drought monitoring adviser to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, said Kenya “still holds 20 million analogue weather maps dating back to 1896” containing valuable climate information.


“It is in the interests of Africa and the world to invest more in climate research and integrate weather information services for effective adaptation and mitigation strategies,” he said. -he adds.


Mo Ibrahim said that despite the lack of investment in meteorological services, the continent has already made progress in other areas when it comes to tackling climate change.


“Africa has an excellent record on climate adaptation. We have over 22 countries on the continent where the main sources of energy are renewable energy, a feat unmatched by any other continent, and vast forests that effectively capture carbon,” he said.


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The Associated Press’s climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. Learn more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content

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