Live blog | Africa Climate Summit and Africa Climate Week

The Africa Climate Summit (ACS) marked a key moment for African Union member states to come together to promote greater climate action to enhance livelihoods, accelerate growth and help Africa better access international markets and avoid emission-intensive development.

The Africa Climate Week is one of four annual Regional Climate Weeks held each year by UNFCCC. 

This live blog focuses on the African Union Climate Action Innovation Hub on the site of the ACS - a dedicated space for Africa’s innovators, especially women and youth, to showcase their 'game changing' climate solutions and project ideas that support the achievement of a climate-resilient and sustainable Africa. 

Day 1 | Monday 4 September

Thousands of delegates, African leaders and Climate Change activists gathered at the Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya for the first Africa Climate Summit. The theme of the summit being, “Driving green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the world”.

The inaugural Africa Climate Summit marked the beginning of the African Union’s Climate Action Innovation Hub. This three-day side event which is being held from 4th to 8th September, organized by the Kenyan government and African Union, brings together like-minded Climate Action advocates to address the negative impact of climate change on African continent. Further, it offers a platform to showcase the remarkable climate innovations happening across the continent.

The opening of the Climate Action Innovation Hub at the Africa Climate Summit brought together leaders, innovators, and stakeholders to celebrate African ingenuity in the face of climate change. This hub, aligned with the African Union’s Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan, showcases homegrown innovations designed to enhance climate resilience across the continent.

This blog, explore the highlights from the event and the role of African solutions in addressing climate challenges. It further highlights the Innovation Hub Africa and outlining some of the young innovators and the incredible projects that they are working on in order to mitigate climate change.

African-Led Solutions for African Challenges

The urgency of addressing climate change cannot be overstated, especially considering its impact on food and water security, alongside global market instability. The opening remarks emphasized that African solutions to Africa’s climate challenge have never been more crucial. For instance, the ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa has left 60 million people facing severe food insecurity. This emphasizes the need for a coordinated response and practical, scalable innovations tailored to the African context.

In an effort to combat Africa’s climate challenge, the African Union has come up with the Africa Union Development Strategy and Africa Urban Resilience Program designed to mitigate the climate challenges faced especially in urban areas and to help manage our cities better.

Empowering Women and Youth

One of the most promising aspects of the Climate Action Innovation Hub is its focus on innovations targeted at or led by women and young people. Research indicates that empowering these groups to become more climate resilient can unlock multiple benefits, including greater food and nutrition security, economic growth, and equality. Women, when given the opportunity, are more likely to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices, leading to higher household incomes and improved nutrition.

Transforming Food Systems

Resilient development in Africa, in the midst of a climate crisis, goes hand in hand with transforming food systems. With a projected population of nearly 2.5 billion by 2050, the continent faces the challenge of feeding a growing population while dealing with the increasing difficulty of food production due to extreme weather events. CGIAR, as the world’s largest publicly-funded agricultural research organization, stands in partnership with the African Union and leading African institutions to address this challenge through evidence-based research, innovation, and cooperation.

Digital Transformation for Climate Resilience

Digital transformation plays a critical role in building climate resilience. Solutions like mobile phone-based tools and applications have shown significant potential in increasing the incomes of producers in sub-Saharan Africa. These tools can provide the information and knowledge needed to help farmers adapt to climate variability. Importantly, digital solutions can bridge the gender gap in technology access, offering transformative opportunities for women in agriculture.

Sustainable Practices and Biodiversity Conservation

In adapting to climate change, African food systems have the opportunity to adopt sustainable practices that protect land-based ecosystems and biodiversity. CGIAR’s work on sustainable livestock, for example, focuses on breeding indigenous livestock adapted to climate stresses, which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Initiatives like the EnviroCow project in Tanzania and Ethiopia contribute to understanding methane emissions and improving productivity among smallholder dairy farmers.

Supporting Africa’s Transformation

CGIAR is committed to supporting Africa’s transformation in the face of the climate crisis. Initiatives range from diversifying resilient agribusiness ecosystems to regional projects focused on climate-smart agriculture and mechanization, with a strong emphasis on gender and social inclusion.

RiceAdvice: A Shining Example

One remarkable example of African-led innovation featured in the Climate Action Innovation Hub is RiceAdvice, an Android app developed by CGIAR’s AfricaRice in collaboration with partners. This app provides locally relevant, farm-specific information for rice farmers, particularly crucial in regions like Mali, where climate change intensifies droughts and floods.

Over 70,000 farmers, nearly a third of them women, have benefitted from the app in the last two years, with women experiencing substantial yield increases.

The blog further highlights the Innovation Hub Africa and outlining some of the young innovators and the incredible projects that they are working on in order to mitigate climate change.

Some of the Innovators that particularly stood out with their projects includes:

Sam Gichuru who is an entrepreneur and innovator for the past 21 years and who has founded and co-founded various impactful projects.

Sam co-founded Nailab, which is the first technology accelerator in East africa, Kuhustle which is a gig platform that connects freelancers to business and Kidato which is an online school and an all in one learning platform and an open learning platform that enables anyone to create and sell online courses. Through his various innovations, he has been able to positively impact lives by supporting, empowering African entrepreneurs and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa.

Gloria Norvor works for Girls Advancement Initiative in Ghana that creates biodegradable sanitary pads made from plantain and banana waste. These innovative pads offer an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to conventional disposable pads, which contribute to plastic waste and environmental pollution. Her initiative specifically targets women and young girls in Africa with the aim to address menstrual hygiene challenges while promoting environmental conservation and climate resilience. 

The Climate Action Innovation Hub’s opening day showcased the strength of African innovation in tackling climate challenges. It highlighted the importance of empowering women and youth, transforming food systems, embracing digital solutions, and adopting sustainable practices to build resilience. As Africa confronts climate change, it’s clear that African solutions are not only at the ready but are also the driving force behind a more resilient and sustainable future for the continent.

Day 2 | Tuesday 5 September

The second day of the Africa Climate Summit kicked off with so much enthusiasm from the delegates and innovators who were present at the African Union pavilion and who shared their significant strides towards addressing climate change.

The main highlight of the second day at the African Union pavilion was the African Union’s Climate Action Innovation Hub, a dynamic space that showcased innovation and collaboration to combat the climate crisis especially from the youths.

Captivating innovations were showcased at the African Union pavilion with various countries and organizations presenting their cutting-edge solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The pavilion buzzed with excitement as visitors explored renewable energy projects, sustainable waste management initiatives and climate resilient agriculture projects.

The African Union pavilion hosted a series of panel discussions led by incredible innovators and thought leaders who geared the discussion around climate action innovation by sharing key and thematic statements. The panel consisted of Gillian Caldwell, the Chief Climate Officer and Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID, alongside Lilly Steele, Investment Director, Global Innovation Fund, Annika Otterstedt, Head of Development Cooperation Kenya, Sweden who discussed innovation in climate change in terms of the opportunities, impact, finance challenges and how to overcome them.

The panelists stressed on the significance of involving the youths in climate change innovations by outlining ways through which investors can support youths in innovation. Further, the panelists discussions covered a wide range of topics, including; climate resilient and innovation in agriculture, green energy, and youth engagement in climate change innovations.

Some of the youth innovators whose projects stood out includes; Adam Tabbouche from Algeria who runs a community focused initiative with women as a core constituent known as “Green Farm” which is implemented by the association Bariq21 in collaboration with the Punud program in the Skikda region of Algeria.

Adam’s project entails the establishment of a pilot farm that operates on renewable energy sources, with its primary objective being to actively engage in the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Another innovator that picked our interest is Mawejje Muhammed Dimma from Uganda, who is the founder and team leader at Mawejje Creations, an innovation that seeks to revolutionize the Fashion Industry by using Plant-based Substances, particularly banana fibers, organic cotton and textile waste in form of fabric offcuts and second-hand clothes in order to mitigate the challenges of fast fashion and climate change.

Sheila Moor is another one of the exceptional innovators who are doing incredible work with their innovations in an effort to mitigate climate change. Sheila is a co-founder and CEO of an Agri-Tech startup known as Fresh Fare Limited whose aim is to rebuild sustainable food systems promoting climate-smart agriculture. Fresh Fare also focuses on food preservation for fresh farm produce using cold storage thus resulting in less waste.

The climate action innovation hub was a showcase of ideas and also a space for collaborations as different delegates engaged in brainstorming sessions and coming up with actionable plans for implementing innovative solutions at a local, regional and international levels.

The African Union’s climate action innovation demonstrated that Africa is not just a victim of climate change but a leader in innovative solutions. With innovation, collaboration, and commitment, Africa is poised to make a significant impact on the global fight against climate change.

Day 3 | Wednesday 6 September

The final day of the Africa Climate Summit under the African Union pavilion focused on different side events with various themes in regards to climate change. This blog will specifically summarize the activities that took place under the Climate Innovation Hub where different young innovators continued to showcase their unique innovations aimed at addressing the climate change narrative.

The Climate Action Innovation Hub conversation was led by different panelists with both the innovators and investors present as they discussed different approaches towards climate change.

Investors expressed their concerns during the Climate Action Innovation Hub by encouraging young innovators to continue coming up with climate change innovation solutions and finding ways to scale up the existing climate innovations. Further, they echoed how important climate innovation is as they additionally stressed that climate innovations are the game changing approach towards addressing the impact of climate change.

Young climate innovators projects were highlighted and discussed in three categories namely:

Promoting low-carbon resilient mobility and transport systems

Jesse Forrester, Mazi Mobility, Kenya

Jesse is a youth innovator who is a passionate advocate for e-mobility. He founded and operationalized Mazi Mobility, in 2021, a venture that is dedicated to electrifying Africa’s transportation landscape. Through locally assembling electric motorcycles and establishing battery swapping stations, Mazi has been able to empower consumers with eco-friendly transportation options as well as creating local employment opportunities hence stimulating economic growth.

Abel Hailegiorgis, Bamboo Labs, Ethiopia

This youth innovator is the founder and CEO of Bamboo Labs, a social enterprise that promotes affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport mobility by using renewable resources to create a positive environmental impact. Abel’s vision is to revolutionize the Bamboo industry in Ethiopia and beyond.

Bamboo Labs was started as an enterprise that produced wheelchairs framed entirely out of bamboo and has recently expanded its production to bamboo-made bikes.

Inclusive resource efficient industrialization

The innovators whose work focuses on inclusive resource efficient industrialization are namely:

Diana Maranga, Octavia Carbon, Kenya

Diana is the business lead at Octavia Carbon which is the Global South’s first direct air capture company. This outstanding innovation filters carbon dioxide directly from the air which can be permanently stored underground or turned into climate neutral carbon products, such as sustainable aviation fuels.

Sonko Jamal, Kyuka Ventures, Uganda

Jamal is from Kyuka Ventures which works at the intersection between reliable energy provision and sustainable clean energy for off grid communities in the face of climate change, leading a global transition to a socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable greener economy. Kyuka Ventures identifies itself with plastic repurposed fuel with their tagline being ‘from waste to treasure’.  

Cross-cutting climate themes

Jessica Brima Sesay, Sierra Leone

Jessica Brima Sesay is a Sierra Leonean and the current Secretary General for the United Nations Youth Advisory Group in Sierra Leone. She is the Founder and executive Director of Youth Partnership for Climate Action and Sustainable Agriculture Sierra Leone, an organization that seeks to empower the next generation of impact-driven emerging leaders to become problem solvers and pioneers for the Global Agenda focusing on the youth and women in creating sustainable communities by implementing strategies that address the matching crises of youth unemployment and climate change.

Madalitso Chimpeni, Mpepu Energy, Malawi

Madalitso is an industrialist, innovator and a sustainable energy expert. Mpepu Energy has developed a novel climate action innovation for generating wind electricity called the Helix Wind Turbine. Unlike the conventional 3 rotor blade design, the helix wind turbine is capable of generating electricity at lower wind speeds and heights below 1 m. It targets rural communities as a means of providing clean and affordable energy to rural households.

These are some of the innovators just to mention a few whose work is shaping the future towards changing climate change and creating a positive impact among communities in different parts of the World.