By Sharon Atieno

With climate change posing a serious threat to Africa’s population with droughts and floods affecting millions of lives and livelihoods, private sector investment in innovative adaptation technologies in the most affected sectors -agriculture, health, and infrastructure – remains crucial.

This is according to a new report issued by the African Venture Philanthropy Alliance (AVPA), with support from the Lemelson Foundation.

The joint research with AVPA, Weber Shandwick and Geopoll found that there is a gap in systematic investment towards climate adaptation in the continent with innovations aiming to mitigate adverse climate change effects such as rising temperatures, water scarcity, and extreme weather conditions being primarily reliant on funding from philanthropists yet private investors remained predominantly focused on initiatives aimed at reducing Africa’s carbon footprint.

“Renewable energy is a known path for investors, offering relatively swift and certain returns. Yet technologies to protect Africans from erratic water supplies, heat spikes and elevated pests and diseases are set to become mainstream necessities. Investors urgently need to focus on high-impact, high-return business opportunities and develop financial models that can handle smaller, more agile investments,” said Frank Aswani, CEO of AVPA.

According to the Priming Private Sector Investment in Climate Adaptation Innovations in East Africa report, there are three top opportunities for private sector investment including water harvesting and purification, soil enhancement, air pollution removal and circular sanitation where waste can be used to make products such as fertiliser and animal feed.

In water harvesting and purification, the innovations and technologies include solar-powered irrigation systems, re-engineering of ceramic filters to achieve safe water and use of singlet-oxygen for disinfecting drinking water among others.

Soil moisture technology is one of the areas of investment for soil enhancement. Others include short-term biochar application, sensors,drones and smart irrigation to remotely monitor soil properties as well as nanoclays and hydrogens which can improve soil water retention.

Pollution removal include investing in technologies and innovations that lower health risks and decrease indoor and outdoor pollution such as fuel efficient cooking stoves, charcoal air filters for vehicles to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide, electric vehicles and air-purifying towers among others.

With temperature increases being felt hardest by urban and slum dwellers due to the building materials such as tin roofs, an additional sector for investment is heat stress. Innovations in this area include cool roofs, air coolers built with terracota tubes in a bed of water, solar powered cooling systems among others.

Investors have also been urged to consider vector reduction as higher temperatures are shortening the breeding time for insects such as mosquitoes thus leading to spread of diseases including malaria in areas where it was non-existent.

Additionally, the report encourages investment in crop cooling innovations such as kaolin, shade cloths and particle films among others.

It also advocates for investment in resilient roads which are not prone to degradation and damage by extreme weather.

Maggie Flanagan, Programme Officer, The Lemelson Foundation said Africa’s rising temperatures and erratic seasons demand engagement and audacious leadership from impact investors who have the opportunity to advance climate protection technologies and financial models.

The report was launched alongside a new Africa Climate Investment Forum that will deliver a swift passage, through investor co-creation, knowledge sharing, and immersion programmes, to a climate adaptation investment ecosystem for the region, which will be able to draw on new impact assessment models and expanded financial tools.

“It was clear throughout our research for this report that investment opportunities and tools exist, but that communication and knowledge sharing are critical to accelerate their widespread uptake in climate engagement across Africa,“ said Allan Kamau, Managing Director of Weber Shandwick East Africa.