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Climate Tech in Ethiopia? Yes!

Michael Ehst's picture
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This week marks the launch of the new, World-Bank supported Ethiopia Climate Innovation Center (CIC). The center joins a global network of CICs and is designed to support local Ethiopian businesses that are responding to the challenges of climate change by providing mentorship, financing, access to markets, and policy support.

“Climate tech in Ethiopia?” A puzzled look with raised eyebrows is what I often receive from friends and colleagues who think more of Silicon Valley than the Great Rift Valley when they hear the terms ‘climate tech’ and ‘clean tech.’ I get a bit more understanding when I mention Ethiopia’s 90 million plus consumers and tick off some of the country’s abundant natural resources, such as fertile land, rivers that supply the Nile delta, and abundant sunshine. Double digit growth rates and an active diaspora community returning to Ethiopia to invest complete the picture. Usually, this is enough to elicit some interested head nods.

Finally, I get to talk about the emerging Ethiopian climate tech firms, such as African Bamboo that is planning to export sustainable wood flooring to the EU and elsewhere. Or dVentus Technologies that has developed smart meters and wind turbines across Ethiopia and is currently working on locally appropriate (i.e. inexpensive and dirt road friendly) electric vehicles. Or the holy grail of the fuel-efficient cookstoves - seemingly in development by every other entrepreneur in Ethiopia - that can make the perfect ‘Injera’ (a local sourdough-risen flatbread) without using wood or coal.

I also mention the 190 entrepreneurs that applied to the Ethiopia CIC’s “proof of concept” competition. Twenty of these entrepreneurs have been accepted as clients of the Ethiopia CIC and will showcase their products and pitch their businesses to investors at the CIC launch on March 27. Then, finally, I get some enthusiasm from my skeptical audience.

The government of Ethiopia has reaffirmed its commitment to green growth through its Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy. The CIC supports the government’s efforts to use green investments to grow the local economy.

In short, there is clearly a market for these businesses. And these businesses are critical as climate change forecasts call for major impacts on Ethiopia’s agriculture production and overall economy. Solar-powered drip irrigation can go a long way towards helping farmers adapt when rainfall slows or temperature patterns change. Small hydro and water filtration technologies can help alleviate the vast energy access and clean water needs of the country.

Don’t get me wrong. Ethiopia is still a very nascent ecosystem for entrepreneurs. The legacy of central planning is evident in the mindset of many business people. Investment laws are still being modernized; in fact, the Ethiopian Commercial Code is being revised as we speak. Financing for risky technology ventures is nearly non-existent.

These are some of the challenges that the Ethiopia CIC, a USD 15.9 Million project under infoDev’s Climate Technology Program, will face as it gets established and undertakes its work with local entrepreneurs. Its business plan provides a more in-depth look at the market and highlights the services that the center will provide to the growing network of sustainable climate tech ventures. The business plan projects that the CIC will generate 12,000 jobs, mitigate almost 1 million tons of CO2, increase agricultural efficiency for 120,000 farmers, and provide access to energy to 265,000 people.
It is early days for the climate technology market in Ethiopia and for these innovative entrepreneurs. But supporting local climate technology solutions offers Ethiopia the opportunity to increase its climate resilience and boost its sustainable economy – the true aim of green growth. So don’t overlook Ethiopian climate technology businesses. And give me a knowing head nod instead of a raised eyebrow if you ever hear me talking up Ethiopia climate tech in the hallways.


Submitted by Abebe on

The Ethiopia development philosophy is based on mutual benefit principles!!!! Even though the cost of green development is high Ethiopia chosen to be the model of clean development. The result of this strategy has already producing results.

This article seems to touch many issues around CRGE but it is too early to talk about enfodev results.

Ethiopian forest and vegetation cover is severely damaged by the growing population pressure and exacerbated by the double digit growth economy in general and in particular, the Ethiopian Somali Regional state forest in and around Jig-Jiga and refugee settled areas is severely damaged by deforestation and charcoal production which some drop out pastoralists daily produce thousands of tones of charcoal and land forest and vegetation cover is reduced. I hope this will provide alternative energy uses in Ethiopia in general will target the most affected areas of the country. I really appreciate this project and finally will thank the individuals innovated to be implemented this project in our country.

Submitted by Tanja Sleeuwenhoek on

Happy to read. Well done and congrats. This is way to go! Happy Ethiopia is on green road as well. Well done!

Submitted by Tigabu on

Ethiopia is at an early stage of developing in all fronts of the sectors.The probability of the sectors like climate change ,clean tech or green energy to be overlooked or push behind is maximum although there is an apparent policy support from the GoE. So,It is my strong belief that such opportunities to Ethiopia in general and to Ethiopian climate change innovation ventures is paramount.Don't be surprised with the raised eyebrow as they are probably a result of unaware of the consequences of the other side.

Submitted by Gulelat Teshome on

I strongly appreciate the efforts made to establish Ethiopian Climate Innovation Center (CIC)and have a keen interest to practically support it ,as an environmentalist,and involve in any development activity related to it.
This is a very crucial time for our country where every body should cooperate and unite to support the climate adaptation mechanisms to bring about social, environmental and economic sustainability.
I would recommend every Ethiopian to support Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy which is a question of life and death for us and the coming generation. Thankyou and keep in touch,
Gulelat T from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Submitted by asresmile on

well written! the past is past,our country's image is changed once and for all.this is time for Africa, Time for Ethiopia. we will make our environment greener. we thank you Michael.

Submitted by tilahun adamu on

its really nice to hear this news. the effort of the government in formulating a green growth development strategy and taking appropriate actions for its implementation is commendable. sustainable development is not something that could be achieved leaving the environment a side. the world trend has tilted towards such reliable African countries as the oil of the middle east and some other countries will never be unlimited resource. the green growth strategy is a priceless strategy the could save the world from the problem that would come following the potential lack of fuel. so in this sphere the rest countries should take a lesson from Ethiopia.

Submitted by Tim Teusink, M.D. on

This is great news! As the headquarters for African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Ethiopia should lead the way for Africa.

Submitted by Red on

We should be planting more trees to conserve water and soil that would help restore/regulate weather conditions.
Climate Tech Ethiopia, is just a change of name....nothing new at all. Let us do the basics only to get us up in our feet.

Submitted by Gelalcha on

Climate change is a subject that people perceive in different ways. Whatever the case or the debate going on to this regards, Africa is facing big challenges to cope with the changes in all aspects opposed to its growing demands to feed its ever increasing population. I suggest to stop arguing on theoretical aspects and work on practical aspects of the effects of the problem before it is too late.

You hit the nail right on its head. Thanks Gelalcha.
Practical actions and adequate investments are indeed much needed. However debates on green issues are not that bad too (for a change, of incessant .
Stay focused.

Submitted by Theodros Zekarias on

Well Done.
Climate change and environmental issues are now being given due attention and the development of Ethiopia is geared towards Green Development mechanisms. This is shown by the commitment from the Government side that a CRGE strategy is now being implemented. I strongly support and abide to your argument. Thanks

Submitted by Gelalcha on

CRGE is a good strategy to cope with and act on the unpredictable climate situation. We should not also forget the comparative advantages and dis advantages of any program we bring in. Hence, I would suggest to work hard and see form all directions with all the short and long term impacts it will bring.

Great and substantive article. Thank you Michael.
Green initiatives, public or market based, are getting better by the day here in Ethiopia. Wish more / adequate investments go towards alleviating poverty, especially energy poverty (primitive cookstoves and imported kerosene for lighting)in rural areas. Best wishes.

Very interesting news. Sustanaible development would be achive with the help of use renewable energies sources like solar photovoltaic energy.

Every person benefits from electricity directly from the sun

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