SSN showcases innovation, sustainability and digitisation in Africa for BMU

SSN started the year off with a visit from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU). SSN convened and facilitated a meeting on sustainability and digitisation in Africa on BMU’s behalf.

The delegates were attending the third Partnership for Action on the Green Economy (PAGE) Ministerial Conference held in Cape Town on the 10th and 11th January 2019. Being a UN agency, PAGE brought together high profile dignitaries and thought-leaders from across the globe to discuss the need to integrate economic growth, prosperity and sustainability.

Included in the delegation were Parliamentary State Secretary Ms. Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter; Mr. Stephan Contius, Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Head of the Division for United Nations 2030 Agenda, Cooperation with Developing and Newly Industrialised Countries, and Mr. Jürgen Keinhorst, Head of the Division for Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Middle East.

SSN put together a list of potential organisations working in sustainability, digitisation and innovation in Africa. The BMU chose to meet with three of these, and SSN suggested convening the meeting at its offices to allow each to showcase their work. Cape Town-based The Sun Exchange and StartupBootcamp made presentations and SSN conducted the third presentation on behalf of KOKO Networks which is based in Nairobi.

The Sun Exchange is a marketplace where anyone can purchase solar cells in sunny locations and have them power businesses and communities. They facilitate leasing the solar cells purchased to hospitals, factories, schools and other end-users, earning their clients solar-powered rental income. In 2018 The Sun Exchange was listed the 90th most disruptve business in the world as voted by Google, Oracle and other tech industry leaders, in the #disrupt100 index and has been used to finance solar panels for the SSN office.

StartupBootcamp’s AfriTech accelerator provides African tech startups with a lifetime of guidance to grow their business, an international network of world-class mentors and access to capital, from early days to the Initial Public Offering (IPO) and beyond. Locally it is anchored by corporate sponsors Old Mutual, RCS, BNP Paribas, Nedbank and PwC, while global sponsors include Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Cisco.

KOKO Networks is a software engineering company currently operating in East Africa and India. They build and deploy networks of cloud-connected smart vending machines known as “KOKOpoints” inside local corner stores (currently available in Nairobi only) which serve as consumer access points for bio-ethanol, a clean cooking fuel. A study commissioned by SSN, as part of a project funded by BMU on Mobilising Investment for NDC Implementation, assessed the economic, health and environmental benefits of bio-ethanol versus charcoal, kerosene and other cooking fuels to understand the impact of replacing traditional fuels. The findings strongly indicate that transitioning Nairobi households from using kerosene and charcoal for cooking to bio-ethanol could result in approximately 2.4 million tons of avoided greenhouse gas emissions per year, and prevent at least 1,500 deaths per year from indoor air pollution.