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Unlocking Africa’s Green Potential: Insights from Africa’s Green Economy Summit

Written by: David Szafir

In the heart of Cape Town, the Africa’s Green Economy Summit emerged as a transformative and powerful force, bringing together ideas, projects, and partnerships to guide the continent towards a better and lasting future.

I was lucky to be part of AGES 2024 and experienced a lively environment with important talks and lessons that influenced Africa’s green development.

In their welcome address, Sanlam Investments expressed their role as the title sponsor of the Africa’s Green Economy Summit, facilitating the connection between the global investment community and promising opportunities within Africa’s green economy sector. The commitment to a sustainable future is highlighted, emphasizing Sanlam Investments’ position that prioritizes long-term investments for the well-being of people, communities, and the planet.

They felt honoured to contribute to reshaping Africa’s economic trajectory through the historic gathering of dignitaries, policymakers, and private sector advocates committed to unlocking the continent’s green growth potential. Together, they envision leveraging climate finance to propel Africa’s recovery and growth, acting as a catalyst for transformative green economic development.

Here are some of my key takeaways from the summit:

Business Networking and Sustainable Partnerships:

The summit was more than just a gathering of ideas; it was a lively environment where business networking played a pivotal role. Reconnecting with stakeholders that I have previously engaged with and meeting with new contacts allowed for valuable exchanges of insights and experiences, fostering potential future collaborations within the green economy sector.

Rise of e-Mobility:

A standout part of the summit was focusing on East Africa’s electric mobility startups. Companies like eWaka, BasiGo, and Mazi Mobility were in the spotlight, showing their creative ideas that are pushing the region toward eco-friendly transportation choices. These startups not only shared their plans but also showed how dedicated they are to greener ways of getting around, making a big impact on the continent’s progress. I also had the opportunity to engage in great conversations with Roam and Zero Carbon Charge which are equally playing significant contributions to the journey toward net-zero goals.

Transport’s Role in the Green Economy (Breakaway Session: Navigating Africa’s E-Mobility Transition):

Many cities in Africa are dealing with a challenging mix of escalating traffic congestion and air pollution, posing urgent problems for city planners and investors. Each country has the potential to cut emissions by at least 30%. This session was moderated by Celeste Vogel, CEO & Co-Founder of eWAKA Mobility and sponsored by Nedbank CIB, the session aimed to explore the progress of African cities in adopting e-mobility, spotlighting their achievements and investment prospects in this transition. From case studies on decarbonizing public transport vehicle fleets from Janathan Green, Co-Founder/Chief Financial Officer at BasiGo, to a panel discussion on strategies for transitioning to electric-powered public transportation, the session provided a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the e-mobility landscape.

Lusanda Madikizela, Head: Zero Emission Freight Transport C40 Cities, emphasizes the need for clear policies and incentives to drive sectoral transitions. The role of governments is pivotal in setting the tone, providing a clear roadmap for stakeholders to follow. Additionally, she emphasizes the significance of policy certainties to mitigate risks and emphasizes that the transition is a continuum, suggesting an ongoing and evolving process.

Tshepo Kgobe, CEO of the Gautrain Management Agency, recognizes the complexity of urban mobility challenges by advocating that there is not just one solution but a diverse range of solutions. He also points out the importance of using the term NEV (New Energy Vehicles) instead of e-mobility. The investment strategy is twofold: “Invest for today and develop for tomorrow” – immediate actions to address current issues and long-term planning for a sustainable future. Gautrain’s forward-thinking approach involves predesigning buses and trains aligned with net-zero goals, with an integrated bus platform as a key feature.

Mallé Fofana, Head and Africa Regional Director of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), highlights variations in markets and costs, using buses as an example, between West and East Africa. He emphasizes the challenges arising from a lack of resources and training in these regions and stresses the importance of involving local financial institutions.

Thabang Mahlangu, Sector Lead for Automotive, Transport, Freight, and Logistics at Nedbank CIB, emphasizes the need for a realistic approach when considering the ban on Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. While acknowledging the optimistic goal, he suggests a careful consideration of practical implications. He envisions a scenario where various technologies coexist and advocates for the acceleration of green technologies

Investment Projects Pitch:

One of the summit’s highlights was the Investment Projects Pitch, showcasing a pipeline of over $1 billion through 30+ green projects. From startups to national initiatives, the spectrum of projects highlighted diverse green investment opportunities. Investors were not only exposed to impactful ventures but also gained unique insights into projects addressing ecological challenges, underlining the profitability of supporting sustainability.

The Path Forward:

As we reflect on the summit’s impact, it’s evident that the journey towards a sustainable future requires collective effort, bold initiatives, and a commitment to transformative change. The stage is set, and Africa is poised to unlock its green potential, with each participant playing a crucial role in this shared endeavour for a greener tomorrow!

Africa’s Green Economy Summit delivered on its promise to provide valuable insights, foster collaboration, and drive capital towards building a more sustainable future for the continent.

I’m excited for what’s to come, especially knowing that the Smarter Mobility Africa summit will once again bring together the whole mobility ecosystem from across Africa to advance how we move people and goods in urban areas. To get all the information and latest updates for #SMAsummit make sure to subscribe here. 



About the author

David Szafir
Business Development Manager for Smarter Mobility Africa
Motivated, flexible and able to manage projects from start to end. Very goal oriented, federative and great team worker.
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