East Africa ranks poorly in index rating readiness for change

Saturday September 14 2019

Heavy floods in northern Kenya rendered some areas inaccessible.

Heavy floods in northern Kenya rendered some areas inaccessible. A KPMG report shows that many African countries are poorly prepared for disasters. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

ANITA CHEPKOECH
By ANITA CHEPKOECH
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East African countries have dropped in global rankings that show readiness to prepare for and respond to major change events in climate change, technology and geopolitics.

In the region, only Kenya improved its ranking in the 2019 KPMG Change Readiness Index (CRI) as Uganda dropped 26 places.

Some 140 states were measured globally. Rwanda and South Sudan’s ranking also dropped, and Burundi and Tanzania remained the same.

The bi-annual CRI report, now in its fourth year, measures three factors—the governments’ ability to manage and influence change, the capability of private and public organisations and companies to adapt to major changes and grow within a dynamic economic environment, and the readiness of people and civil society to cope with change and respond to opportunities.

“Kenya moved eight places up to position 59, from position 67 last year. Rwanda slipped to position 70 from position 46 last year, and Uganda recorded the biggest drop in the region to position 99 from position 66 in the previous index,” the report states.

Ready to embrace change

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Kenya topped the EAC region and was ranked third in Africa after Mauritius and Namibia, at positions 34 and 43 respectively.

The top five countries ready to embrace change in this year’s ranking are Switzerland, Singapore, Denmark, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.
Tanzania was ranked 100, Burundi was position 128 and South Sudan was second last, at 139.

Somalia was ranked the least ready at position 140. Chad, Sudan and Libya were also at the low end of the ranking.

Africa’s big economies are also lagging behind in adopting change, with South Africa at position 96 and Nigeria at position 127.

Rwanda was ranked the fourth in the world for planning and adopting change beyond expectation, at 13 per cent.

The top performer in this category was Switzerland at 16 per cent. The negative performers in this category were Libya at -25 per cent, Angola at -15 per cent, Algeria at -12 per cent and Sudan at -11 per cent.

The report noted that those susceptible to climate risks and least resilient are mostly low income and lower-middle income countries.

Among developed economies, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong face greater climate risk factors, and demonstrate a higher degree of change readiness. The majority of higher income economies, are considered low risk/high readiness countries.

The report stated that the annual cost of adapting to climate change in developing countries could rise to between Ksh25.96 trillion ($259 billion) and Ksh51.93 trillion ($519 billion) by 2050, which is four to five times greater than the UNEP estimates of 2016.

It recommends that in order to be climate-ready, societies must be able to address both sudden onset events like natural disasters, and build resilience against long-term structural changes like rising sea levels and temperatures.

The report states that effective responses must be founded on national and global collaboration and co-ordination, and underscores the importance of taking into consideration vulnerable groups in developing countries, like smallholder farmers.

Climate risks

It also highlights the requirements to mitigate and adapt to climate risks, speed up innovation in sustainable energy and energy efficiency, and enable more effective roles for governments and civil society.

“Those that fail to recognise the impact of climate change as the new normal and do not adapt accordingly are likely to be unprepared for its growing costs. These costs will be levied on citizens, businesses and economies across the globe, and so the solutions must also be global in scope,” said Achim Steiner, the administrator at the United Nations Development Programme.

According to Richard Threlfall, the global head of infrastructure at KPMG International, governments are encouraging operations that are climate-smart, including infrastructure, strategic planning, horizon scanning, public administration, state business relations, fiscal policy and budgeting.

“In infrastructure investment, projects are more environmentally sustainable, socially impactful and resilient. Infrastructure assets are increas-ingly adopting sustainable technology.

“Roads, housing, energy supply, water and sanitation and other assets are increasingly designed, built and operated taking into account their environmental impact and their ability to mitigate climate risks,” he said.

There is still a large gap between low income and upper-middle income countries in terms of implementation because of budgetary constraints.

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