The cost of air pollution in Africa

The human and economic costs of air pollution in Africa are growing fast, according to a new OECD Development Centre study on the Cost of Air Pollution in Africa. Already, they are surpassing the costs associated with unsafe sanitation or underweight children. Without bold policy changes in Africa’s urbanisation policies, these costs might explode. Building on the OECD’s methodology to assess the Economic Consequences of Outdoor Air Pollution for OECD countries, China and India, the paper provides new, critical evidence on the economic cost of the impact of air pollution on human lives for African countries. Between 1990 and 2013, total annual deaths from outdoor air pollution -- ambient particulate matter pollution (APMP), mostly caused by road transport, power generation or industry -- rose by 36% to around 250 000. Over the same period of time, deaths caused by household air pollution (HAP) --caused by polluting forms of domestic energy use -- rose by 18%, from a higher base, to well over 450 000. For Africa as a whole, the estimated economic cost of those premature deaths is around USD 215 billion for outdoor air pollution in 2013, and around USD 232 billion for household air pollution. And this is in spite of slow industrialisation, and even de-industrialisation in many countries.

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