Green economy key to sustainable development – MUT Public lecture speaker

Some of the MUT staff that attended the lecture. Professor Hilary Inyang is sixth from right

World-renowned researcher in the areas of environmental science and engineering, geohazards, energy systems and international development identified green economy initiatives in Africa as the key to accelerating economies towards sustainable development. Professor Hilary Inyang, who is a Visiting International Research Fellow at the Africa Institute of South Africa of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), was delivering a public lecture on the “Greening of the Economy for Livelihood Improvement in Africa is a solution in addressing Energy, Water and Food Sustainability” at Mangosuthu University of Technology.

Professor Inyang made a compelling case for African countries to look at the green economy as a viable alternative to the current reliance on fossil fuels. Professor Inyang identified economic development, population management, environmental/natural resources stewardship, and social equity as the pillars of sustainable development.

He added that as things stood, Africa was mostly involved in the extraction of raw materials and coal has been instrumental in driving economies. The problem is that coal increases carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Even more worrying is the link between economic development and emissions.

“There are correlations between the country rising economically and an increase in pollutant emissions,” said Professor Inyang.

In terms of air pollution, Professor Inyang identified dust emission as a challenge in the African continent given that 80% of roads are not surfaced. Even more concerning is the fuels used in households.

“Over one billion children live in homes where solid fuels are used for cooking and heating. That is the big contributor to life expectancy,” said Professor Inyang.

He explained that the greenhouse effect was the generator of global warming which impacts various systems.

In terms of precipitation patterns, rain season was changing and getting squashed because of global warming. While rivers in the African continent are browning because of erosion. In dry areas or deserts, the shifting of soils has been identified because of global warming on ecological systems.

“The boundary of the Sahel Desert is coming down at the rate of 1.5 kilometres per year,” said Professor Inyang pointing to the desertification of land.

The public lecture, which was part of a collaborative effort between MUT and the HSRC, concluded with the MUT faculty deans sharing the work that their faculties were doing that is green. Professor Roger Coopoosamy, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, talked about the contribution of his faculty to conserving nature, and research being done on plants and the environment. Professor Babatunde Bakare, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, talked about his faculty’s work on water recycling and green energy. Dr Bheka Ntshangase, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences,  shared the work that was done by the Chair of Human Settlements with the participants.

The public lecture took place on Tuesday, 30 August 2022, and was hosted by Dr Xolile Mkhize, Senior Lecturer: Department of Community Extension.