Africa is the second-largest and second-most-populous continent on Earth, with a population of 1.3 billion people as of 2018. It accounts for about 16% of the human population on Earth and is the only continent with the highest percentage of young people. Africa’s fast-growing population and markets present unique opportunities for business in an environment of slowing global growth. At the same time, innovation and business investments are essential to meet Africa’s unfulfilled demand for goods and services, close the gaps in its infrastructure, create jobs, and decrease poverty. Unfortunately, the climate crisis poses a grave danger to the economic growth of Africa, its people and future generations. According to the United Nations Fact Sheet on Climate Change, Africa is the continent most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Already experiencing temperature increases of approximately 0.7°C over much of the continent, and with predictions that temperatures will rise further. Africa is facing a wide range of impacts, including increased drought and floods. Soon, climate change will contribute to a severe humanitarian crisis and decreases in food production, floods and inundation of its coastal zones and deltas, spread of waterborne diseases and risk of malaria, and changes in natural ecosystems and loss of biodiversity.
To mitigate the climate crisis and its effect in Africa, one of the most impactful solutions is by building a business community and movement that will understand the importance of a circular economy, green innovation, and the conservation of natural resources in Africa as well as focused on driving the continent in achieving a net-zero goal by 2050. This is where the Greentech-Africa initiative comes in; with objectives aimed at supporting and equipping local African business leaders and employees with the knowledge, guidance and tools to transition their businesses from a linear to a circular model of operation, measure and analyze carbon emissions, reducing energy consumption and waste pollution, optimize employees’ transportation, choose greener infrastructures and equipment, raise awareness among employees, promote environmentally friendly ways of working, choose sustainable suppliers, clients and stakeholders – with the help of climate science experts, top entrepreneurs, and science journalist.
The Greentech-Africa initiative will also create a collaborative atmosphere among businesses/startups to work together on projects with real long-term sustainable impacts such as clean energy, food, transports, nature conservation amongst others. In conclusion, the private sector, particularly the small and medium scale enterprises in Africa has a significant role and responsibility to play in the continent’s Race-To-Zero mission and its goal to achieve a net-zero society by 2050.
Most African societies operate around a linear economy which has to do with the constant destruction of natural resources. Our recent research on circularity projects that if the African economy doesn’t become sustainable and circular soon, there will be an increase in humanitarian crises such as unemployment, poverty, health emergencies, crimes, illegal migrations, amongst others. These issues or problems are mostly linked to the climate crisis and the practice of a linear operating model in Africa. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the International Monetary Fund, adverse consequences of climate change are concentrated in regions with relatively hot climates like Africa, where a disproportionately large number of low-income countries are located.
The African Climate Policy Centre has also projected that the Gross Domestic Product in the five African subregions would suffer a significant decrease as a result of a global temperature increase. For scenarios ranging from a 1 °C to a 4 °C increase in global temperatures relative to pre-industrial levels, the continent’s overall GDP is expected to decrease by 2.25% to 12.12%. West, Central and East Africa will exhibit a higher adverse impact in Africa. Africa has made great efforts in driving the global climate agenda. For instance, Africa’s Agenda 2063, which was concluded in 2013, recognizes climate change as a major challenge for the continent’s development. Many African nations have committed to transitioning to green energy and a circular economy within a relatively short time frame, but some of these commitments often see the important role that small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) have to play in this transition.
Addressing these issues now by strategic partnership with global organizations and various governments sectors in Africa to educate and equip local businesses with the right tools to help their businesses transition and thrive is important in building a resilient, impactful and sustainable economy for today’s society and future generation.
- Improve renewable energy consumption and reduce waste pollution.
- Optimizing employees’ transportation.
- Measure and analyze carbon emissions.
- Raise awareness among employees.
- Choose greener infrastructures and equipment.
- Promote environmentally friendly ways of working.
- Advocate for the efficient use of natural resources.
- Choose sustainable suppliers, clients and stakeholders.
- Create long-term sustainable collaborative projects on energy, food, building and transport.
- Ensure less waste by effective use of resources after product use.
- Propose effective climate policies to governments.