News / Africa

    Kenya Climate Innovation Center Helps Address Climate Change

    Jill Craig
    Quickly becoming known as the home of the “Silicon Savannah,” Kenya hopes to make the world a bit greener with its new Climate Innovation Center. The center will assist entrepreneurs in securing financing and other services for their companies while helping the country and region address the effects of climate change.

    Kenya’s recently-launched Climate Innovation Center, or CIC, is positioned to become the business hub for African climate technology entrepreneurs. The center is the first of its kind in the world and will allow small and medium enterprises in Kenya and the region address climate change by accelerating business in sectors such as energy, agriculture and water supply.

    Entrepreneurs submit proposals to the CIC. If accepted, they have access to financing that often is difficult or impossible to secure in the developing world. The CIC provides them office facilities, technical support, assistance with company and tax registration, and even how to write an effective business plan. In return, the entrepreneur either becomes successful or will be replaced by someone else.

    Izael Da Silva,  deputy vice-chancellor of academic affairs at Strathmore University in Nairobi, where the center is housed, said in Kenya there are many innovative ideas. It is just a matter of helping them come to fruition.

    “Small and medium enterprise, they are many," said Da Silva. "And, people have innovative ideas, but very few manage to come to a level of sustainability and then become economically viable… some good ideas need an enabling environment around it, nurture it and make it mature.”

    It's all about location

    Jonathan Coony is the coordinator of the Climate Technology Program at the World Bank, which is spearheading this effort. He said Kenya was the ideal location for the first center.

    “If you spend some time in Kenya, you really come to realize what a tremendous entrepreneurial culture there is there. Many people have ambition to try new things," said Coony. "And, we believe there’s thus far latent potential for East Africa to be a driver of innovation in a number of sectors. And, from the point of view of our program, the Climate Technology Program, we think that doing that for climate technologies is a tremendous opportunity and will bring a lot of benefits to the country and the region.”

    Peter Waweru is the founder of the start-up company Biossal, a company that manufactures bio-fuel from oil seeds. As one of the first entrepreneurs invited to work with the CIC, Waweru said he started his company in South Africa in 2008, but moved it to Kenya a year later.

    “Kenya allows you breaks that you really don’t get in most other places. If this were South Africa, the kind of legislative impediments that I would have gotten into as an entrepreneur to go to market…The road to market is unclear in those other places because of regulations, policy formulations, etc. Kenya, on the other hand, is get up and go, sort-of,” Waweru said.

    Harnessing entrepreneurial energy
     
    Coony said that harnessing this entrepreneurial energy in Kenya will be crucial in dealing with the climate change manifestations that affect so many Africans, like inconsistent rainfall.

    “If you’re in Nairobi and it’s a question of whether to bring an umbrella or not, you may be able to handle that," Coony said. "If it’s a situation where the survival of yourself and your family and your community is dependant upon well-established and well-known meteorological patterns, it creates a much more profound impact.”

    According to Da Silva, the CIC is uniquely positioned to nurture and develop more creative solutions to climate change issues facing Africa. "We do not have a lot of infrastructure. We do not have a lot of maturity in business, so in these circumstances, this part of the planet becomes very vulnerable to climate change," he said.

    “We do not know how to handle for instance droughts or floods or these types of things that are likely to come with the climate change, so with the CIC, we’d like to say to people, ‘Come, and you’ll get prepared,’" he said. "So if we are going to have one degree higher than average temperature for Africa, what type of crop would you need to grow in order to make money. Or what kind of procedure you’ll have to have in order to handle, say, rain water harvesting.”

    Kenya’s CIC is expected to support more than 70 sustainable climate technology ventures in five years and to generate 4,600 direct, and more than 24,000 indirect, jobs in the next decade, while leveraging $10 million in private sector investment. It will be seeded by a contribution of $15 million for five years.

    The CIC is supported by the World Bank, in partnership with the government of Denmark and Britain’s UKAid. The initiative involves several Kenyan partners as well.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Goodbye Ketchup, Hello Sriracha!

    How immigrants are triggering a great transformation in American cuisine

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora