Though its contribution to the greenhouse gases is the least, as a country Africa is particularly at risk to the ravages of climate change thanks to its ever present food security issues as well as its vulnerability to floods and droughts. While for most of the world, information technology today means social networking and online games, for much of Africa's populations they may hold the key to security from the risks of climate change.
A new report titled The Information Economy Report 2010: ICT, Enterprises and Poverty Alleviation, the fifth in the flagship series published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), say ICTs may hold the key for helping Africa cope with climate change. An annual publication, this monitors global trends related to information and communication technologies (ICTs) from a development perspective.
Through mobile telephony
UN estimates say the penetration rate of mobile phones in the world's least-developed countries has surged from 2 to 25 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. For Africa this is of special significance. The report indicates even applications installed in smart phones will enable alow-carbon future thanks to reduced emissions and also provide means to implement new approaches to disaster preparedness behavior and adaptation of new ways to monitor the environment. Various sections of the African population has already adapted to the advantages offered by the mobile phone.
Farmers, entrepreneurs and fishermen are now active users of the phone as a key tool to advance their business. Thus the phone can be used as an essential means of conveying important climate and environment related news and assist in disaster warning and preparedness behavior. The Zambia Meteorological Department has recently launched the RANET (radio and internet) project that provides meteorological information to local communities through low-cost technology used for bringing weather, climate, early warning and related information to rural communities through computers and digital radios.
The report also focuses on the on the nexus of ICTs, enterprises and poverty alleviation. Whereas people must be made awareness and there information dissemination is an important aspect of ICTs and the issue of climate change, the report argues that the opportunities technology offers up is much wider and that stakeholders and policy maker must focus on this.