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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

Politicians must push economic integration within SADC, Mboweni
2009-08-31

The outgoing Governor of the Reserve Bank, Mr Tito Mboweni (pictured), believes that for economic regional integration to be realized among the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, the political leadership of the region should play a pivotal role.

Mr Mboweni delivered the CR Swart Memorial Lecture, the oldest lecture at the University of the Free State, on the topic: “Seeking greater political and economic integration in Southern Africa in challenging and turbulent financial times”.

He said the necessary macro-economic convergence accords must be put in place for regional integration to take place.

These accords, he said, should be supported by prudent fiscal policies, financial balances among SADC countries, and the implementation of policies which will minimize market distortions.

“In the crafting of the macro-economic policies of the region we have to ensure that market certainty is maintained,” he said.

He said as governors of central banks in the region they have agreed that to achieve these objectives they first have to attain a free trade area.

“When the proposals were drafted the idea was that in 2008 we should have achieved a free trade area,” he explained. “Now we are behind in that regard, meaning that a free trade area has been formally and officially declared but the implementation thereof is behind schedule.”

Mr Mboweni said they were supposed to have a SADC-wide customs union in 2010, a SADC common market in 2015 and a monetary union in 2016.

“In order for us to move towards the regional integration agenda it is clear that there has to be a far greater intra-African trade than is the case now,” he said.

“In Southern Africa most of the trade is with South Africa and the other countries do not trade much with or amongst each other.”

He also said because the South African currency is legal tender in countries like Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, they have developed a comprehensive set of proposals with these countries to deal with this matter.

“Our proposals basically center on the creation of a common central bank for South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland which, if created, would form a good basis for the establishment of a SADC-wide central bank.”

He said the macro-economic convergence criteria will not help achieve regional integration without the region’s political will.

“There has to be a commitment by the political leadership in Southern Africa to do the basic things that need to be done for the development of the region,” he said.

“That is where the notion of a developmental state must come in in support of these regional integration initiatives. There is no gain in just shouting developmental state if the basic issues supportive of development are not done.”

Mr Mboweni will leave the Reserve Bank in November this year.


Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
31 August 2009

 

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