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Tech-ing up for a greener future: Africa's technological journey to sustainability

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By Roberto Vigotti

· 3 min read

As technology advances, so too does the need to cultivate a more sustainable environment for it, one that takes into account resources, biodiversity, and socioeconomic development. Africa, in particular, stands at the brink of a new era of technological development, one in which green solutions could play a key role in shaping the continent’s future. With the practical application of innovative and advanced technologies, Africa can approach its development in an ever-more sustainable and effective manner.

Despite only accounting for 3.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Africa is facing severe consequences of climate change, including extreme weather events and environmental degradation. For example, the Sahel region has been experiencing prolonged droughts, leading to food and water shortages and displacement of communities. In response, countries like Ethiopia and Kenya have implemented sustainable farming practices, such as conservation agriculture and drip irrigation, to adapt to changing climatic conditions. In Ethiopia, the adoption rate of conservation agriculture has increased from 2% to 22% in just 12 years, resulting in improved crop yields and soil health. Similarly, in Kenya, the use of drip irrigation has helped farmers in arid and semi-arid regions to grow crops throughout the year, reducing food insecurity and dependence on rain-fed agriculture. A further, interesting application of technology at the service of sustainability is remote sensing technologies: they can help monitor and predict natural disasters, allowing for better disaster management and risk reduction. In Uganda, a mobile app called "Raintracker" uses satellite data to provide real-time rainfall predictions, helping farmers make more informed decisions about crop planting and management.

Embracing technology is also crucial for companies and organizations investing in the African continent, such as the $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund deployed for underfunded markets. This includes expanding the AI for Good Research Lab in, Egypt and Kenya and scaling up the collaboration with the newborn with the Africa AI Innovation Council.

In addition to addressing immediate challenges, technology can lead to long-term transformation in various industries like agriculture, energy, and transportation. Digitalization, AI, and data analytics can make these sectors more efficient, sustainable, and accessible for all. For example, off-grid renewable energy solutions, like solar panels and mini-grids, are already providing electricity to remote communities in countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and Rwanda. In conclusion, we must acknowledge technology as one of the most powerful assets of Africa's task of scaling up Its sustainable electrification. At RES4Africa, we are committed to being at the forefront of this journey and promoting the use of innovative technologies to drive sustainable development and build together a more inclusive future for Africa and all of its inhabitants.

illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Roberto Vigotti is the Secretary General of RES4Africa Foundation, a European think tank gathering 34 stakeholders from the clean energy value chain to accelerate Africa’s RE transition. Previously, he spent 35 years in Enel Power R&D Division and served for 12 years as the chair of the Renewable Working Party of the IEA

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