EIT Climate-KIC: How can we enable African climate innovation to thrive?

The COP27 has shown a light on Africa’s response to the climate crisis. One of area of potential is growing the African climate-tech sector with private and public sector help.  

EIT Climate-KIC’s panel on Tuesday 8 November at the UNFCCC Global Innovation Hub, brought together entrepreneurs, investors, government and research representatives to take a closer look at what is holding back African innovation and what concrete steps can be taken to change that.  

Quite a lot of early-stage innovators are facing challenges in accessing finance to support their ventures.  

Joshua Murima, Head of Engagement and Investor Relations at Briter Bridges

Jade Bouhmouch, Managing Partner at Ambo Ventures, quantified this point by noting that only 20 percent of all capital that goes into Africa goes to local entrepreneurs. There is also a huge gap in terms of the types of climate-tech innovations being funded across the continent. Research by EIT Climate-KIC and Briter Bridges shows that over 75 percent of all funding to climate start-ups in Africa went to renewables. Although this area is vital, it’s not the only place innovation can be made. Venture capitalists will need to actively diversify the type of companies they invest in.  

Climate solutions in Africa have the potential to solve climate issues around the world

This needs to be more explicitly understood by entrepreneurs and investors alike.  “The innovations in Africa are being looked at as local solutions rather than looking at them as solutions to climate issues in Europe or North America,” said Prabhakar Vanam, CEO of Kenya Climate Innovation Centre. This sentiment was echoed by Audrey S-Darko, Founder and CEO of Sabon Sake, who noted that African entrepreneurs need to think about their products in a global and systemic way as these solutions could be hugely beneficial outside Africa. Audrey recently spoke to us about her own start-up, which equips farmers with the tools to battle soil degradation and enhance their livelihoods. She hopes to build a grassroots movement of sustainable farming not only in Ghana, but across the world.  

What role can the public sector take to push African climate-tech forward?

Sinead Walsh, Climate Director at Irish Aid, notes public organisations can take bigger risks in investing in early-stage ideas and creating new programmes. One such programme is the ClimateLaunchpad, which provides knowledge and skills for entrepreneurs. Governments can also take an active role by legislating in favour of climate solutions, pushing businesses to invest, and supporting the climate solutions of tomorrow.  

Watch the sessions on African innovation ecosystems: Accelerating climate solutions for the African continent

Watch the session on supply- and demand-side barriers faced by women climate-tech entrepreneurs in Africa