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Africa Climate Summit Gathers Global Innovators

Salem Hasseni, Climate Tech Analyst, The FutureList

As the Africa Climate Summit drew to a close, it left a lasting impact on the global climate discourse. Held from September 4th to 6th, it was a key component of a week-long engagement that extended until Friday the 8th. This historic event is the first-of-its-kind in Africa and was attended by approximately 30,000 delegates, including 17 heads of state and distinguished figures like John Kerry, Ursula von der Leyen, Ban Ki-moon, and others. With nearly 500 official sessions covering all aspects of climate change such as carbon finance, energy transition, deforestation, and circular economy, it provided a comprehensive platform for addressing pressing climate issues, uniting visionaries, and setting the stage for transformative action. The summit also aimed at developing a unified African stance on climate issues ahead of crucial international climate conferences, including the UN climate conference in New York and COP28 in Dubai.

Beyond the official sessions, the climate ecosystem exhibited its dynamism with numerous events organised outside the prestigious Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC). Various stakeholders, including investment firms, talent organizations, and renewable energy developers, hosted events that showcased their commitment to advancing climate solutions. These events demonstrated the multifaceted and collaborative nature of the climate movement, emphasizsng that addressing climate change requires the collective efforts of diverse actors across sectors.

The FutureList was among the organisations that took the initiative to extend their reach beyond the confines of KICC and collaborated with Africa50 and Allied Talent Partners (Three Cairns) to co-host a networking event with the theme of “Improving access to climate-related talent and expertise across Africa.” This event successfully brought together over 40 stakeholders from various sectors within the talent and climate ecosystem. Participants included talent development institutions, climate-tech companies, venture capital and private equity firms, researchers, among others.

Serving as the Climate Analyst at The FutureList, I had the privilege of representing the organisation at this historic summit in Nairobi. My role over the past year primarily involved remote interactions with various stakeholders in the climate ecosystem, with occasional in-person meetings. Being at the Summit felt like an animal joining a vibrant herd after solitary wandering in the wilderness. The summit gathered thousands of like-minded individuals, all united by a shared cause. It reminded me of wildebeest migrations, happening this month in Kenya as well, where safety and efficiency lie in crossing crocodile infested rivers together. This profound shift emphasised the power of collective action, just as these wildebeest herds demonstrate strength in unity during their river crossings. Moreover, the unexpected reunions with former classmates and professors at the event were like discovering familiar tracks in this vast landscape. It was a testament to the interconnected nature of our climate journey, where our paths converged in a way that none of us could have foreseen.

Amidst this bustling herd of participants at the Africa Climate Summit, informal gatherings often gravitated toward a symbolic focal point: the fountain graced by the Jomo Kenyatta statue. Beneath the watchful gaze of this iconic figure, it felt as if we were partaking in a gathering ordained by history itself; conversations flourished like blossoms mirroring the colourful dresses African women wore, ideas sparkled like the fountain’s waters, and connections were forged, as meaningful as water is to blossoms.

From the bustling heart of Nairobi, the recent Africa Climate Summit unveiled not just the vast challenges of our warming planet but also a thriving hub of innovators determined to address them. I couldn’t help but be reminded of a core belief we hold at The FutureList: that the solutions for the climate crisis and a sustainable future already exist, nestled in the hands of technology innovators across the globe. Yet, the obstacle remains – many of these visionaries aren’t thinking on a grand enough scale or haven’t connected with the right partnerships to amplify their efforts.

Africa, with its unique blend of challenges and opportunities, presents a mosaic of innovation. Entrepreneurs from Ghana to South Africa are leveraging technology to harness solar energy, manage water resources, and promote sustainable agriculture. However, in many instances, the vision stays localised, limited by resources or networks. This is where the vision of The FutureList becomes paramount. As the world heats up, we need to accelerate the cool-down, and this necessitates rapid scaling of the most promising solutions.

Our global research team, coupled with our robust network of innovation scouts, has an unwavering focus on spotting these glimmers of hope. In fact, we have already profiled over 5,000 companies, with over 20% of these zeroed in on climate solutions. This mammoth task is carried out with the knowledge that somewhere in this list lies the key to a more sustainable world, and our mission is to provide that key with the right door.

In Nairobi, I met with startups turning waste into sustainable construction materials, innovators using AI to predict and adapt to changing weather patterns, tech-savvies transforming the face of public transportation, and engineers extracting CO2 from the air. Their stories, struggles, and aspirations resonated with the essence of what The FutureList stands for. Our diverse partnerships – spanning research, technology, investment, and talent sectors – are designed to offer these changemakers the resources they need and to introduce them to channels that can supercharge their growth.

The time is ripe, and the stakes have never been higher. As I left Nairobi, my conviction was strengthened: it’s not a lack of solutions, but the synergy to amplify them that’s lacking. Together, let’s ensure the brilliant minds of today can shape a greener, brighter tomorrow.

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