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  • Thursday, 08 September 2022

Egypt-ICF Energizes Entrepreneurs to Tackle Climate Change Through Climate Tech

On the first day of the Egypt-International Cooperation Forum, a workshop titled, ‘Innovation for Climate Action’, was held to empower entrepreneurs to voice their ideas and share innovative solutions as well as their experience with addressing environmental issues. 

The workshop witnessed the participation of high-level officials from governments, development partners and international institutions. The speakers of the workshop included Ines Rocha, Managing Director for Impact and Partnerships at EBRD, Daniel Annerose, CEO and founder of Manobi, a Senegalese business, Dr. Deger Saygin, Policy Analyst at OECD, Mostafa Ashraf, Founder and CEO of Taqatak Renewable Energy Solutions, Kathleen Kirsch, Engineering Officer and Climate Lead at USAID, and Kelvin Massingham, Representative of Climate Innovation for Adaptation and Resilience at CIFAR Alliance.

The workshop was moderated by Oday Kamal, Head of Innovation and Consultant to the Country Director at WFP.

Kamal quoted John Kerry’s statement at the opening ceremony of the forum, which highlighted that investment in climate change in the year 2021 alone reached USD 41 billion, though Europe, China, and the United States accounted for 95% of this amount, while startups in Africa only received a small percentage.

Mostafa Ashraf shared the story behind Taqatak Renewable Energy Solutions, which was established in 2017, and works to provide portable and easy-to-use electric charging units based on solar energy that can be used regardless of the time and place, and does not result in any carbon emissions.

For her part, Ines Rocha, Managing Director for Impact and Partnerships at EBRD, stated that the European Bank of Reconstruction has a  multi-million dollar plan to support small businesses, offering technical, financial, and capacity building support to create an ecosystem for entrepreneurs to thrive and grow. 

 Kathleen Kirsch, Engineering Officer and Climate Lead at USAID, said that USAID launched a program in Egypt to support engineering startups.

“We are working with the government to develop 10 international biotechnology schools that include climate education in their curriculum, and we are working in cooperation with the private sector to develop technology teaching and provide job opportunities,” Kathleen said. 

She added that USAID partnered with the Government of Egypt to launch a global Climatech Run 2022 competition, which targets tech entrepreneurs and digital artists who share a collective passion for sustainability to present their work at COP27.

As for Mr. Kelvin Massingham, Representative of Climate Innovation for Adaptation and Resilience at CIFAR Alliance, stated that Africa is short-changed by funding, and that the Climate Innovation Alliance publishes data and research to inform funders of the situation in Africa and the required funding needs.

Moreover, Daniel Annerose, CEO and founder of Manobi, a Senegalese business, stated that his company’s strategy is to make investment in the agricultural field attractive to financiers and provide solutions to reduce the impact of climate change and contribute to creating sustainable models.

In the same vein, the forum held another workshop on the same day, titled “Food Security and Agriculture in the Context of Climate Change” to promote solutions for sustainable agriculture, as statistics issued by the African Development Bank indicate that Africa has lost between 5% and 15% of its GDP per capita growth due to climate change. 

The workshop participants agreed on the importance of providing effective solutions to the challenges facing food security in the countries of the African continent, and the need to reach innovative financing mechanisms in order to spare the countries of the continent the risks of food insecurity, as 282 million citizens in Africa are already undernourished, according to the World Bank.

During the session, Regional Director of the World Food Program (FAO) for the Middle East ‎and North Africa, Corinne Fleischer, stated that the African economy is experiencing major setbacks due to climate change, as climate change exacerbates hunger and malnutrition and increases migration.

She explained that a two-degree increase in temperature would cause 189 million people to suffer from food shortages, and a higher temperature would cause about 1.8 billion people to suffer from hunger.

Food security in Africa decreased by 20% due to the floods, she added, and also one in five people faced hunger in 2020, which is double the number experienced worldwide.

In his speech, Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, El-Sayed El-Kosayer, added that although agriculture is the least contributing sector to carbon emissions, it is the most affected by the climate change crisis.

During the workshop, Somali Minister of State for Environment and Climate Change, Adam Aw Hirsi, said that Somalia has paid a heavy price for climate change.

In his speech, he pointed out that Somalia relied all the time on rain to obtain its water resources, which were barely sufficient for agriculture, but over the past four years, the rains stopped completely for the first time in the last forty years, causing the death of livestock.

The Regional Manager at the Agriculture and Agro-industry Department of the African Development Bank, Vincent Castel, stressed that the Bank focuses on technology transfer to Africa in cooperation with international organizations, where about 1.8 million farmers have benefited from the transfer of agricultural technology, including Sudan, which is expected to be able to achieve self-sufficiency in wheat during the next two years.

He explained that the African Development Bank allocated about USD 1.5 billion for adaptation projects in the continent, and called for mobilizing USD 25 billion to expand climate adaptation projects in Africa.

The ITFC General Manager of Trade and Business Development, Nasser Al Thekair, stressed that trade and food security are among the most important areas we focus on, citing the example of cooperation with UNIDO in Egypt to train small farmers to grow cotton in a sustainable manner, and also worked on researching the types and quantity of sustainable fertilizers for farmers in Senegal.

For his part, African Import-Export Bank (Afreximbank) Intra-African Trade Initiative Senior Manager, Gainmore Zanamwe, said that the Afreximbank raised the value of funds that it had launched for the Trade Financing Program for Africa from $4 billion to $6 billion in April 2022 in order to keep pace with the Ukraine crisis.

Zanamwe elaborated that this increase came to support the purchase of wheat and provide fertilizer to African farmers, which the bank had previously launched with the aim of increasing the credit facilities that it had developed to manage the effects of the Ukrainian crisis on African economies and companies.

Dr. Abdel Hakim El Waer, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative of the FAO for the Near East and North Africa, said that many regions in Africa suffer from water problems due to climate change and floods, including the northern delta region, adding that to solve these problems, climate resilience and new types of crops should be promoted.

He asserted the need to implement decisive solutions for technological development to confront climate change and provide food security. There must be local solutions in addition to global solutions to suit the local context, he added. 

The Director-General of the Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dryland, Aly Abousabaa, stated the continent of Africa has huge potential in terms of agricultural land, water and energy that has not been exploited so far.

Earlier, the Ministry of International Cooperation announced the approval of the World Bank and the African Development Bank on development financing worth $500 million and $270 million, respectively, to bolster national efforts in achieving food security.

The second edition of the Egypt-ICF Forum is held ahead of COP27 under the theme of moving from pledges to implementation. The overall objective of the event is to i) ensure coherence of African climate finance positions, ii) prioritize actions that can be led by African countries with targeted support to increase climate finance available for implementation, and iii) showcase successful development practices and champion new initiatives and actionable policies on climate mitigation and adaptation.