Alex Rose-Innes

Africa, with its willingness to embrace change, could drive the global trend towards a greener prosperity that could see the continent become a world leader in transformation.

With its history of wars, economic instability, poverty and now, drought, economic analysts had already said that by 2013, Africa would boast one of the fastest growing economies across the world.

The last fifteen years had seen a veritable growth revolution in Africa as the younger generation embraced technology to in many cases, counteract climate change and eliminate poverty and food shortages by ingenious agricultural inventions.

Mobile platforms had become established across Africa as social and commercial innovation is taking hold across many green industries. With many first world countries having become rather staid in their thinking, Africans, desperate for a better life, had been at the forefront of economic development on the continent. With the younger generation embracing a greener way of living, the traditional manner of doing business is fast falling by the wayside of better ideas.

One of these “greenpreneurs” is Paseka Lesolang, Youth, Innovation, Jobs and Industrialisation Co-ordinator at Global Water Partnership GWP) for Africa, who had been asked to address the latest World Climate Summit in January this year with ideas on how innovation could assist the continent.

Lesolang had been spearheading strategies to involve the African youth in water affairs and in a series of blogs, commissioned by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), shared innovative ideas and technologies to ensure future investment toward a greener Tanzania.

The country is regarded as the 26th most vulnerable country in the world when it comes to climate risks with millions of Africans still dependent on unevenly disbursed water resources and severe drought. The situation is expected to deteriorate to such an extent within the next decade that almost two billion people would lose their income and ability to provide sufficient food.

As the World African Bank said in an international report, the good news is that 65% of the continent’s population is under 35 years of age and was looking at the future differently.

According to Lesolang, during his speech at the Climate Summit, African change makers are bold and innovative and despite huge challenges, able to build climate resilience.

However, financing is the major hurdle and the necessity for creative funding models was highlighted at the Accelerating African Adaptation session this year. Innovative activity in Africa and green entrepreneurship had been at the top of the agenda. Once again, research had proved that ongoing mentoring, incubators and start-up laboratories could provide resilient water projects for which the World Bank is known to finance.

In the meantime, Lesolang’s water drive is focussing on projects to provide effective public sector facilitation to source green funding, the key to accelerating adaptive and innovative action on the African continent.