Towards inclusive green circular economy in Africa, a Switcher's perspective
Wissam Mansour participating at the session "Responding to regional priorities in the Mediterranean"
Switch Africa green, Switch-Asia and SwitchMed, funded by the EU, are promoting productive, circular and sharing economies in their respective regions. In this context, the second SWITCH Africa Green regional networking forum provided a platform for discussions to advance an enabling environment for green enterprises in the participating countries and Africa as a whole. The forum held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on 3-4 October 2018, explored opportunities for scaling up and replicating successful interventions in all Switch programmes. The event brought together innovative solutions that accelerate Africa’s green transition through sustainable production and consumption practices. Discover this major networking event, and its insights through the eyes of our SwitchMed incubated green entrepreneur Wissam Mansour.
Dr Mansour, what’s your opinion about your participation in this major networking event?
In Africa sustainable production in the agriculture sector is centred around particular and traditional products where value chain studies become very relevant and frequent. The rootedness of green businesses in local culture and natural wealth is fascinating in Africa; the Mt. Rwenzori Coffee in Uganda, the Shea byproducts from Burkina Faso, the banana fabric and biogas and other Kenyan products are all parts of a sustainable system of production and consumption that works towards local and regional development benefiting from available international support.
“Switch Africa Green has exposed me more thoroughly to the wider environment of green business and green economy.” Wissam Mansour, founder of Lili's Farm
I personally met with people from Ghana and from Mauritius who were very interested in Lili’s Farm developed climate control and mushroom growing systems; on the other hand one of the few mushroom growers in Burkina Faso met with me and we exchanged experiences and outlooks towards better oyster mushroom production and growing strategies and techniques.
The rather scarce funding available to African green businesses extracts more talent into the values inherent from sustainable production and consumption. Extended value chains across African products reminds me of similar potentials in traditional Mediterranean products which have equal potential. Although historically products like olives in the Mediterranean have developed into a long chain of production and consumption, still, green agriculture remains individualistic in the Mediterranean and much could be learnt from the group spirit that is involved in large scale green projects on national levels in Africa.
Any thoughts on the financing landscape for green entrepreneurs in Africa?
The need for equitable access to finance was a strikingly obvious outcome of my Switch Africa Green participation. As the movement towards green economy is being incubated through large scale projects like the EU funded switch to green umbrella project, it is inevitable that financial institutions will adapt their offerings to access this economy and secure their strongholds. The various resulting financial streams within the larger green economy must be scrutinized especially on the level of access to green financial support to national levels or SME levels. In fact SMEs have the ability to divert the switch to green if funded by petro-dollar and unsustainable financial schemes. The sector of sustainable finance becomes here more important than ever and the switch to green and similar programs need to address research into sustainable green financing more strategically.
Would you like to get the overall picture and critical view of the challenges perceived by our Switcher about Africa's development history that directly influences its switch to green economy? Please find them in his item “Emergence and Nemesis in Africa’s developing Green Economy » on his blog by clicking [here].
The overall objective of SWITCH Africa Green is to support 6 countries in Africa to achieve sustainable development by engaging in transition towards an inclusive green economy, based on sustainable consumption and production patterns, while generating growth, creating decent jobs and reducing poverty. The objective will be achieved through support to private sector led inclusive green growth.