More than two hundred stakeholders and international experts participated in the infoDev’s Climate Technology Workshop in Nairobi to discuss the latest trends in clean technology innovation and entrepreneurship. The agenda included a discussion on the future of the climate technology sector, talks on adaptation and mitigation technologies, and a special panel debate on innovative ways of providing access to finance to emerging entrepreneurs. After the workshop, a green expo showcased the most promising local new ventures supported by the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC). The exhibition gave 30 talented, clean-tech entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their innovative products in the field of agribusiness, water management, and renewable energy. In its first year of operation, the KCIC supported over 70 local clean-tech ventures.
“Because of the Climate Innovation Center, business is really heating up and we are recruiting people,” said Mr. Peter Chege, one of the 30 innovators featured at the expo. Thanks to the support of the KCIC, Mr. Chege’s firm, Minerals and Allied Ltd, has successfully developed an innovative method of farming that uses nutrients and water instead of soil. As a result, farmers using his systems can grow up to 500 kilograms (about 1,100 lb) of animal feed using 80% less water than in traditional farming.
Another featured entrepreneur was Collins Kayo, CEO and founder of Coca Tech. Mr. Kayo is revolutionizing the local energy market by introducing a portable solar battery that promises to be an effective and environmentally friendly solution for many low-income citizens.
“Our product is unique; we don’t build a battery that is heavier - and therefore more expensive - than necessary,” said Mr. Kayo. “Another selling point is the portability of our power box; this reduces the risk that the device gets stolen and customers don’t need to install new wiring to use the solar panel.”
While the expo showcased these innovative green ventures, the workshop highlighted their importance in promoting economic growth and reducing climate change impacts. During the opening ceremony, Cabinet Secretary Representative Mr. David Jakaiti emphasized how climate technology will play a key role in the country’s socio-economic development:
“The Kenya government supports such initiatives that encourage experience sharing on how to build resilience to ever more deadly and costly natural disasters and less predictable weather patterns, and on taking integrated approaches to advance economic, social, and environmental objectives simultaneously. Through the exchange of low-emission technologies and technical know-how through initiative such as the Climate Technology Program, countries are able to lower the costs of sustainable solutions and strengthen their ability to access and deploy climate finance.”
The various panel discussions of the workshop represented also a good opportunity to share experiences from different countries in the region and consider issues that prevent investments in the sector. Lack of appropriate financing, absence of technical skills, fragmented policies, limited access to market and insufficient international linkages are just a few of the challenges that green entrepreneurs have to face when investing in their ideas. Furthermore, several international initiatives designed to promote technology innovation in developing countries have failed to achieve their long-term objectives due to an insufficient understanding of the specific characteristics of the local context.
“The circumstances in developing countries differ from the ones in industrialized countries. We cannot implement a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach in terms of climate technologies,” said Jonathan Coony, Coordinator of the World Bank’s Climate Technology Program. “Developing countries don’t need to be ‘technology takers’ dependent on technologies from industrialized nations. We should strive for locally derived and relevant climate solutions.”
After the workshop, a steering committee meeting gathered donors, World Bank representatives and local stakeholders to evaluate the results achieved and discuss the future priorities of the Kenya CIC. The committee endorsed plans for the development of the center and reconfirmed the multilateral commitment to fostering climate innovation and sustainable growth in the country.