Friday, September 18, 2009


The Western Cape's flowers is always a stunning display. This year is no exception. See these beautiful galleries of Wild Coast flowers.

Flowers are not the only attraction. Time to join the steady flow of tourists up there...

So long!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Water Shedding?

It was argued in an earlier post that natural resource constraints, which are generally ignored by macroeconomic planners advising South Africa's government, could have a detrimental impact on South Africa's development path. A new paper by South African economists James Blignaut and Jan van Heerden on water limits to economic development takes a stab in this direction. They do point out that increasing the price of water may help avert such a crises, but remain sceptical on the implementation of such measures:

Is Water Shedding Next?

James Blignaut and Jan van Heerden

July 22, 2009


South Africa is in the grip of an electricity crisis marked by a euphemism known as ìload

sheddingî. The demand for electricity has grown to the point that the supply reserve margin is

often under threat, necessitating the electricity supplier to cut supply to some areas for various

periods of time, or to shed load. This is a condition previously unknown to South Africa since

the country has enjoyed electricity security from the mid-1950s. Are we, however, heading in

the same direction when considering water? Is water shedding inevitable?

We ask these questions since South Africa is a country classified has having chronic water

shortages, a condition exacerbated by climate change and the rapidly increasing demand for

water. Can we avert a water shedding crisis by being proactive? In this paper we address

this issue by applying a Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model using an integrated

database comprising South Africaís Social Accounting Matrix (SAM) and sectoral water use

balances. We refer to AsgiSA, the governmentsíAccelerated and Shared Growth Initiative in

South Africa, and conclude that continuing business as usual will indeed lead to a situation

where water shedding will be inevitable.

Unlike electricity, however, water security is much more serious from livelihood, health and

socio-economic development perspectives since there are no substitutes for it, although its influ-

ence is not directly and immediately visible. This delayed effect can create a degree of comfort

and ill-founded complacency leading to non-action, whereas there is an urgent need for proactive measures.

See here for more on water pricing is an important policy instrument to manage water scarcity and risks.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Trade and Development Report on Africa and Environment

The UN Trade and Development Report 2009 was released. A few snippets highlights the worsening state of Africa and possible growth and development opportunities in addressing environmental concerns:

On Africa:

Falling GDP...

In Africa output growth is expected to slow down sharply in 2009, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where per capita GDP will actually fall.

Increasing food insecurity...

In 2009, food emergencies persist in 31 countries, and it is estimated that between 109 million and 126 million people, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, may have fallen below the poverty line since 2006 due to higher food prices

On the natural environment:

Climate change and development...

Increased efforts aimed at climate change mitigation can be combined with forward-looking development strategies and rapid growth in developing countries.

Market for ’environmental goods’...

At present, the global market for what is sometimes called “environmental goods” is clearly dominated by developed countries, but several developing economies already account for an increasing share of this market. For some countries, climate change mitigation offers new possibilities to exploit natural comparative advantages, particularly in the production of low-carbon energy, which so far have been of minor economic importance; for others it may offer opportunities to build new dynamic comparative advantages.

A proactive industrial policy with a special focus on using existing comparative advantages and creating new ones in the production of environmental goods is of particular relevance in the context of forward-looking development strategies, because the policy space for support measures in this area is less narrowly circumscribed by multilateral agreements than in other areas.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Adapting to the impacts of climate change needs much more attention, especially for a developing continent such as Africa, an idea that was supported in earlier posts on this blog (See: In Africa climate change = adaptation, Africa and Adaptation, Let's not forget adaptation)

This time another article From Project Syndicate:

COPENHAGEN – Striking the right balance between preventing global warming and adapting to its effects is one of the most important – and most vexing – policy questions of our age. It is also often ignored.

According to the conventional wisdom of many environmental campaigners, we should first do everything we can to mitigate global warming, and only then focus on adaptation strategies. This seems wrong – even immoral – if we could do more for people and the planet through adaptation.

Read here for full article.

Read here for the background economic analysis supporting the article.