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Meet Africa’s new generation of climate activists

Tourists and travel operators have much underestimated power to influence the trajectory of green initiatives on the continent

Hello – how far does the green economy extend in Africa? All agree it includes renewable energy, electric mobility and sustainable agriculture.

But tourism? Yes indeed. No business is more dependent on preserving Africa’s natural world, its parks, coasts and forests. Nobody has more to lose than the hospitality sector. 

Along with self-interest around natural assets there is also consumer demand. Operators report a growing number of visitors shunning what’s not sustainable. 

Here then is the case for making tourists central to the green economy. Or how many of them will still be coming to Africa when there is little left of its epic landscapes?

Today’s reading time: 3 mins

LOGISTICS UPDATE | Thursday 23 May

EVENTS…

📆 London hosts the 10th Africa Debate (June 6)

📆 West Africa sustainable construction forum in Senegal (May 30)

📆 Kenya hosts AA Mobility Festival (June 15)

AND JOBS…

💼  Zembo is seeking a cost accountant (Uganda)

💼  Sunexchange is looking for an operations manager (SA)

1.🚁 Heli view: How Africa’s most nature-dependent sector is going green

Winners build coalitions. The continent’s environment contains the largest carbon sinks on the planet, making it central to limiting climate change. 

  • While safeguarding those rich & diverse landscapes is essential to tourism. 

Win-win: Climate activism and the hospitality sector are natural allies in Africa. Both rely on nature’s bounty. Yet until recently their shared interest was far from obvious. 

  • Activists griped about emissions from long-distance air travel. 

  • And tour operators feared association with political causes. 

What changed: Two things shifted mindsets. Climate action has become more urgent, making activists less choosy. 

  • And consumers, namely tourists, are increasingly embracing the climate cause.

  • Far from shying away, operators have now started to market sustainability.

Prime example: Private sector giants such as andBeyond, a South Africa-based tourism company with $556 million in annual revenues, are skewing green. 

  • andBeyond’s prides itself on “caring for the land, its wildlife and the people”. 

  • It recently secured a multi-decade concession on Kenya’s Suyian Conservancy together with a conservation charity.

Public sector: Governments are slowly following where the private sector is heading.

  • Kruger National Park, one of the most popular conservation areas in Africa with over a million visitors a year, runs its own solar farm. 

  • By next year, it expects to have removed all its camps from the national grid. 

  • It also runs a science campus focused on biodiversity and erects green buildings from locally recycled materials.

Funding change: Some African governments have also started to offer financial incentives for green tourism. 

  • South Africa gives grants to small hospitality businesses covering up to 90% of the cost of installing renewable energy and water solutions. 

The impact: Just how powerful a lever for climate action the hospitality sector is has been underestimated. 

  • More than 66 million visitors came to Africa last year, contributing 8% to GDP. 

  • Some regions are seeing annual growth rates above 30% in tourism.

  • It’s the largest foreign currency earner in many countries (e.g. Kenya).

  • It is also a major employer (6% of all jobs), with lots more potential for green roles. 

Innovation surge: Among the biggest hurdles to change – beyond a lack of awareness – is the availability of solutions suited to a green hospitality sector. 

  • Tourism is lagging behind other African sectors in creating new business models and sustainable supply chains. But that’s changing. 

New investment: Purple Elephant is a venture funder focused on African green hospitality.

  • CEO Ben Peterson targets software solutions that support greening the sector. 

  • He says he aims to address the impact of climate change through technology. 

  • Based in Nairobi, his team designs and scales regenerative tourism start-ups. 

Hospitality 2.0: One of the newly invested startups is Kijani, an ecommerce platform that provides eco-friendly supplies to the tourism industry. 

  • The business recently opened a warehouse in Kenya for deliveries to hotels and lodges that seek green efficiencies and reduced transport emissions.

The future: Where the sector may be heading in the long term can be seen in Morocco. 

  • It attracts 13 million tourists a year (a fifth of Africa’s total) despite or perhaps in part because it is the only African nation to meet its international climate goals (SDG 13).

2. Cheat sheet: Six steps to a green hotel

The 200-room Azembay property near Casablanca proclaims complete sustainability. The owners, Kew Green Group, seek net zero emission across their portfolio by 2040.

(i) Azembay manages its own water supply. 

(ii) It also produces all the energy used on site. 

(iii) Vegetables are grown in owned greenhouses.

(iv) The spa serves locally sourced organic products. 

(v) Fishing boats and a livestock farm provide protein to its five restaurants. 

(vi) Green mobility is ensured by way of electric vehicles, mules and horses.

3. Number of the week

… is how much more power American EVs consume than the whole country of Uganda. The US fleet of nearly 5 million EVs used 7,596 GWh last year. The power from all grid-connected generation plants in Uganda amounted to 6,032 GWh.

4. Network corner

👉 Max Schiff was appointed as CEO at Lake Turkana Wind Power Limited.

👉 Nigeria appoints the nation's first-ever special envoy on climate action.

  • Climate finance: East Africa’s first sustainability bond lists on the London Stock Exchange. The NMB Jamii Bond launched in Tanzanian shillings and US dollars on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange last year and is supported by BII and IFC.

  • Revenues: The South African Reserve Bank warns that carbon taxes could reduce exports by 10%. This is the worst case scenario where the EU implements a “Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism”. 

  • Circular economy: Kenya initiates construction of the “world’s first” eco-friendly garment factory. The $2 million project will be completed later this year.  

  • Nukes: Egypt moves ahead with nuclear power. The initial level of the internal containment vessel was installed at its Dabaa Nuclear Station.

  • Leadership: Nigerian business leaders are starting to make more noise about green opportunities. A number of CEOs are positioning Nigeria for investment.

  • eMobility: Electric vehicle company Spiro secures a $50 million loan from the Afreximbank to expand its operations on the continent.

6. Research reports

🗃️ Research & Markets releases “Solar Energy Market in South Africa”

🗃️ Bird & Bird publish the “International Green Hydrogen Report 2024”

🗃️ UNDP puts out the “Africa Green Business and Financing Report“

Don’t have time to read 100+ media sources and reports every day? We’ve done the reading for you. Check out our full monitoring here.  

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