News / Africa

Kenya Climate Innovation Center Helps Address Climate Change

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid