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Insight & Analysis - March 11, 2022

5 African Countries with the Highest Carbon Emissions

Africa accounts for 3.8% of the world’s carbon emissions but faces higher risk due to poverty and inadequate infrastructure.

The gradual technological advancement in African countries has increased the percentage of carbon dioxide emissions. Although the continent accounts for only 3.8% of the world’s carbon emissions, it’s already facing the resultant climate more than the rest of the world

Although Africa contributes little to the global carbon dioxide emissions, this has severe consequences on the continent. African countries are experiencing an increase in drought and floods, high-temperature rises of about 0.7°C with a forecast of continuous temperatures increase.

The adverse effect of this will also lead to lower food production, flooding and inundation of coastal zones and deltas, the development of waterborne illnesses and the danger of malaria, and changes in natural ecosystems and biodiversity loss in the near future.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in 2020, travelling and transportation limitations reduced emissions to 35.962 GT, but this is projected to increase when normalcy returns to the globe. Let’s have a  look at the African countries with the highest carbon emissions on the continent as of 2020.

South Africa

South Africa is considered the most advanced country on the continent. It is also referred to as Africa’s worst polluter. The carbon emissions rose by 1.5% in 2019. It contributes 33% of the continent’s rapidly growing air pollution from fossil fuel burning, oxidation, and cement manufacture.

Despite global attempts to move away from high-carbon-emitting fossil fuels, South Africa’s stock of emissions increased from 2018 to 2019. Although the country’s carbon emission reduced from 471.6 million metric tons of carbon (MtC) emitted in 2019 to 452 million metric tons in 2020, South Africa still ranks first among Africa’s major carbon emitters.


With 213 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted in 2020, Egypt ranked second in Africa.

Egypt emitted 250 million Mt of Carbon dioxide in 2018, putting it in the 27th position globally, accounting for 0.75% of global emissions and 2.5 tons of CO2 emissions per capita.

Egypt’s electrical power generating sector accounts for around 40% of the country’s total Carbon dioxide emissions, with transportation (20%), industry (15%), residential structures (5%), and other sectors accounting for the remaining 20%.


In 2020, Algeria emitted 155 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Algeria produced 3.59 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per capita in 2018.

Algeria’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 were estimated to be approximately 219 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). The energy industry was responsible for most of the country’s CO2 emissions, followed by the industrial, garbage, and agricultural sectors.


Nigeria released almost 126 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) as of 2020. Between 1990 and 2014, Nigeria’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions grew by 25%. Nigeria produced 492.44 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2014, accounting for 1.01% of world greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). 

The land-use change and forestry sector accounted for 38.2% of GHG emissions followed by the energy-32.6%, waste -14.0%, agriculture-13.0% and industrial processes sectors-2.1%.


In 2020, Morocco released almost 65 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Electricity and transportation operations account for over two-thirds of carbon dioxide emissions in Morocco.

The industrial sector accounts for 15% of carbon emissions, while the commercial sector (which includes agriculture and fishing) accounts for 12%. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), oil accounts for 72.60% of Carbon dioxide emissions, with coal accounting for 22.70% and natural gas accounting for only 4.80%.

In 2014, oil products made up 62% of the total primary energy supply (TPES), with coal accounting for 21.26% and natural gas accounting for 5.3%.

READ ALSO: 5 <strong>African Countries</strong> Emerging in the <strong>Hydrocarbon Markets </strong>in 2022

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