How the Earth Hour solidarity campaign - to switch lights off - unfolded across Africa

This year millions in an impressive 178 countries and territories came together to highlight climate change, and the continent played its part.

EARTH HOUR, an annual campaign organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) encourages people to turn off their lights as a symbolic demonstration of commitment to action against climate change. 

This year famous landmarks across the world went dark and entire cities dimmed down on March 19 as millions in an impressive 178 countries and territories came together to switch off.

In South Africa, it was particularly big and citizens who actively took part in the campaign by switching off their lights from 8:30pm to 9:30pm on Saturday saved an average of 515 Megawatts of electricity during the hour, authorities said. As part of its support for Earth Hour, the country’s electricity utility Eskom measured the reduction in electricity used during the hour. 

Whilst many Africans have taken to social media to make fun of the concept of Earth Hour in a part of a world where there is a huge lack of electricity (only about 24% of sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity) or where power cuts are so frequent, there were still many that chose to show solidarity with the rest of the world. 

Here are a few glimpses as to what happened for Africa’s Earth Hour:

ALGERIA

Citizens across Algeria participated in the campaign which has become a popular event over the last couple of years.

There was even a high-level discussion that took place to debate the country’s commitment to fighting climate change and which included the energy and culture ministers. 

CAMEROON

The World Wildlife Fund invited students and pupils to plant trees and showcase their importance in fighting climate change. 

EGYPT

The Arab Youth Climate Movement and 350.org, two movements that work on sustainability and raising environmental awareness, were responsible for the organisation of Earth Hour in Cairo. 

Here a group of youths gathered at the Greek Campus in Cairo, off Tahrir Square.

KENYA

Kenyan radio station, Homeboyz put their support behind the World Wildlife Fund and covered Earth Hour extensively. 

Local hotels also participated in the hour. The increasingly-landmark Tribe Hotel in Nairobi switched off its lights replacing them with candles to mark the campaign. 

MADAGASCAR

Several related events happened across Madagascar. 

Here participants gather in Antananarivo, pledging to become a “leader in climate”.  

NIGERIA

In Nigeria, Earth Hour took on a political form, used to drive a petition to save the last forest in Calabar, Cross River State. 

In other parts of the country, activists and businesses came together in Lagos, Abuja, Cross River, Taraba and Benue States to learn and share how they create a low carbon economy with several of their initiatives.
“Earth Hour serves a platform not just to raise awareness about environmental issues, the event also serves as a platform for entrepreneurs who are involved in activities that protect Earth to showcase their work and network as we engage people during the time frame of the event at night” said Oludotun Babayemi, the West Africa Regional Director for Earth Hour.

SOUTH AFRICA

The Victoria and Albert Waterfront in Cape Town before and after the lights went out. 

TANZANIA

In Tanzania, as the world switched off, WWF-Tanzania’s Earth Hour campaign brought people together to install a solar-powered water pump to serve a primary school and local dispensary in the Temeke Municipality. 

Students, communities and local authorities of Dar es Salaam also planted 5,000 trees at Buyuni primary school. 

TUNISIA

In Tunisia Earth Hour was dramatically marked in Sousse with the launching of hot air balloons. 

Earth Hour has particular poignancy in the African context considering a new United Nations study, the Africa Adaptation Gap Report, highlighted the danger of the continent delaying further action against adapting to the effects of climate change. 

It showed that by 2050, Africa’s adaptation costs could rise to $50 billion a year if global warming is held to below two degrees celsius. But that would double to $100 billion, or 6% of Africa’s GDP, if the world, currently on a path that could place it to more than four degrees celsius by 2100, does not turn away from that course.

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