As the Caban Group, in partnership with the Polystyrene association of South Africa and Envirolite Lightweight Concrete opens its first polystyrene recycling factory, we look at the rise of cleantech investment in Africa and beyond. The first of many similar factories operated under the Khaya Khanya brand, where polystyrene is recycled into lightweight building bricks, is suitably situated in Atlantis in the Western Cape. This small community who is a far cry from the global exposure received by wealthy Governments and Billionaires grabbing the headlines at Cop26 in Glasgow, is great example of how a collective local focus across the world could ultimately have the global impact we require on the path to net zero.
Venture capital investment in start-ups developing technologies for solving climate change challenges and the transition to net zero emissions, has grown at a faster rate than overall venture capital investment for the periods between 2013 -2019. According to a report by PWC in 2020, a total of $ 60 billion of seed capital was invested globally between 2013 and 2019 in climate change start-ups which are helping meet the net zero challenge. According to Bloomberg, Renewable energy investment drew more than $2.6 trillion in investment from 2010 to 2019.
Earlier this year, Elon Musk announced in a tweet that he will be contributing $100 million towards a prize for the best carbon capture technology. The Innovation Prize will be awarded to the best technology created to remove carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or ocean and store that carbon safely and efficiently.
For many of us, Cop26 has been seen as a pivotal moment in future of our planet, with record heatwaves, floods and increasing storm activity in the six years since the Paris Agreement. Its difficult to argue that drastic measures are needed. And so we are looking at wealthy nations and investors to play a significant part in charting a path for the future we need while providing the financial resources through which to achieve this.
While global leaders will be the face of many signed agreements at Cop26, entrepreneurs and startups will ultimately remain at the forefront of developing new technologies that can turn those commitments into reality. Whether it is finding new innovative ways of growing vegetables in urban shipping containers, installing floor tiles that convert steps into energy or a internet search engine that promises to plant trees in exchange for search traffic generated. The entrepreneur fraternity have already set their minds on solving the climate change challenges we face.
In recent months, Amazon has pledged to launch the Climate Pledge Fund, a $ 2 billion venture capital fund for clean energy projects; Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pledged $ 10 billion to fight climate change through the creation of the Bezos Earth Fund, making him the largest single climate change donor in the United States; Microsoft has announced a $ 1 billion climate innovation fund and Unilever has pledged to invest € 1 billion in a new climate and nature fund focused on restoring the balance of nature while capturing carbon in the process.
New technologies will be at the forefront of emissions reductions, and there are hundreds of start-ups across Europe rising to the challenge and innovating at an unprecedented rate. Venture capital investment in Africa have focussed on Cleantech for some time now. The below examples is a strong testament to the impact of this.
Cleantech Investment in Africa
Across Africa we have certainly seen a raft of clean tech businesses making significant inroads.
- South African renewable energy start-up Sustainable Power Solutions (SPS) has raised $40 million to provide cleaner and affordable solar energy across sub-Saharan Africa.
- Kenyan clean energy provider M-KOPA has connected more than 500,000 homes in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to solar power, with over 500 new homes being added every day and has so far raised around $160 000 000 through mostly grant funding for their business.
- Daystar Power, a Nigerian based business providing Solar power and Energy efficiency solutions provider for businesses has so far raised $88 000 000
- Wassha, a Tanzanian based business providing rental device and charging service using clean energy has so far raised around $20 000 000
- While off-grid solar energy provider Oolu’s based in Senegal has so far clocked up around $11 000 000 in venture capital funding.
If you think cleantech is a market you are interested in but are struggling to find a world-changing idea, why not get some ideas from the venture capital investors themselves?
Cleantech Investment is booming
Although Cop26 has been a pivotal moment on the calendar, climate change has been on the agenda for years. Cleantech and climate related businesses have enjoyed a surge of investment in that time, and VCs know there’s money to be made in the sector.
They’re opening their wallets at a record rate and sustainability is one of the hottest sectors in the market right now. In the UK for instance, Over $ 1 billion has been invested in cleantech in London so far in 2021, that is more than in 2020.
It is perhaps very suitable then that amongst all the large numbers of investments made and pledged to Cleantech across the world, and specifically now at Cop26, that this small and often forgotten community in Atlantis in the western Cape of South
Africa is the place chosen to launch this recycling factory franchise which will not only provide vital recycling capabilities and bricks with which to build affordable housing in the region, but will send a clear message to the people of this community that they have not been forgotten.