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We need a sustainable African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

Last week marked an important milestone for Africa, when the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), came into effect on 30th May. AfCFTA has major implications for Africa’s development, if its is well implemented. AfCFTA could potentially create a single market for goods and services for Africa’s 1.2 billion people, with a combined GDP of $ 2 trillion. At this scale, Africa could truely be on its way to realising its potential.

One of the major challenges hampering Africa’s development is the poor intra trade on the continent, which is at a dismal 16%. This figure might just seem like a statistic, until you try to cross any African border, whether its from Tanzania to Zambia or from Nigeria to Benin, the chaos that you encounter, corrupt officials and general insecurity is just all too stark to ignore.  So the the AfCFTA is way more important than one could imagine.

From a purely economic perspective, according to UNECA (UN Economic Commission For Africa), AfCFTA could raise trade on the continent by 15% to 25%. This could truely signal Africa’s prosperity, or is it?

Much as improved intra trade on the African continent is highly desirable, the potential for it to revolutionarise the Africa has to be tappered against other barriers and negative externalities the continent faces, like climate change.

Agriculture is Africa’s main economic driver, with very few countries having diversified into other sectors like manufacturing and services. As a result, alot of the intra-trade in Africa will still be based on agricultural goods and services as the main offering of some countries. Agriculture on the hand will be highly impacted by climate change, as increase in temperature will result in reduced yields, prevalence of diseases and extreme events such as drought and flooding. Agriculture also uses a very large amount of water, which is going to be even more scarce.

Therefore for AfCFTA to be effective, it needs to promote sustainable trade on the African continent, to enable businesses effectively adapt to the impact of climate change, while ensuring that its impact on the environment are minimised. It will be extremely callous to ignore the need for sustainable trade in promoting a united Africa, as the continent will be one of the hardest hit by climate change.


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The transition to a clean energy future is inevitable, lets embrace it!


  • The African Centre for a Green Economy welcomes the signing of the 27 renewable energy power purchase agreements after a two year delay.
  • The IPP’s should build strong partnerships with the local communities that go beyond mere compliance to create sustainable meaningful inclusive impact for all.

Cape Town, 5th April 2018 – The African Centre for a Green Economy (AfriCGE) welcomes the signing of the 27 renewable energy power purchase agreements by the Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe after a two year delay which has caused a lot uncertainty in the sector. We are glad the South African government has honoured its commitment to transitioning to a clean energy future as part of it efforts to combat climate change, as per the Paris agreement.

We are cognizant of the recent threat from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) not to vote for the ANC in the 2019 general elections because of the perceived losses of jobs resulting from the pursuit of clean power. We however categorically reject this view. The potential for job creation from the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) is very clear and will not result in the demise of other energy sources. Even though in the long the goal should be to decouple SA’s economy from an energy intensive trajectory.

It is therefore important for the country to chart a clean economy trajectory considering that the impact of climate change will be catastrophic especially among the poorest and most vulnerable. The transition to a green economy presents opportunities, but with potential implications for the future of work. Change is however inevitable, so instead of NUMSA fighting this transition, they should embrace it and prepare their members accordingly.

We therefore call on all stakeholders including the trade unions to partake in this transition journey, and to reskill their members to capitalize on these emerging opportunities.

IPPs too, have a big responsibility to make sure that they impact local communities positively, to not only guarantee their social license to operate, but to also build a truly inclusive economy in South Africa. We therefore call on the IPPPs to build strong partnerships with local communities that go beyond mere compliance to one anchored on creating shared value for all.

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Executive level training on mainstreaming green economy

Executive level training on ESG related issues

Primary Beneficiaries: CSI Executives, LED managers, CEO’s of REC’s and mining companies, Stakeholder relations managers

Broad focus on mainstreaming ESG related issues

Specific focus on Local Economic Development strategies for mining and renewable energy companies

Learning Outcomes

  1. Measuring impact/metrics
  2. Developing effective strategies for local economy development
  3. Effective participation and stakeholder engagement
  4. Strategies for diversification & beneficiation of LED interventions
  5. Effective stakeholder engagement at the local level

Proposed duration: 3 days

Proposed cost: R 12,000

Proposed Partner: Bertha Centre, Graduate School of Business

For more info on the detailed module breakdown, send queries to: training@africancentre.org

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Moving the money: Climate change adaptation and entrepreneurship

There is an increasing recognition that entrepreneurship plays a critical role in driving climate change adaptation. Recognising that business as-usual can no longer suffice in the sustainability transition, the need for innovation has become extremely important. Business model innovation both for existing and emerging enterprises, offers an opportunity to test new concepts that can drive a low carbon development trajectory, while creating decent job opportunities for the multitudes of unemployed young people.

The role of small and medium enterprises (SME) in charting the transition is paramount, partly because SME’s are responsible for most job creation, but crucially are key for testing new business models. Large business are difficult to transform in most cases because of well established business processes that might be deemed effective, especially for companies that are profitable.

Even though the role of SME’s in climate adaptation is well recognized, they face insurmountable challenges, more especially access to finance. Due to the nature of ‘green’ enterprises, they often can’t meet the funding criteria of traditional financial institutions such as commercial banks. There is a dearth of generous and patient capital that is willing to fund untested business models, regardless of the potential impact they hold. This has greatly impacted on the deployment of innovative mechanisms and solutions for climate change adaptation.

Impact investing has emerged as a key pathway for financing green enterprises, even though its real ‘impact’ is yet to be felt on the ground. It has been estimated that impact investment as an asset class is worth $50 billion, in the US alone. In South Africa, it was been estimated that close to $4.9 billion of impact investments have flowed into the country, according to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN).

So why is funding not reaching onto the ground, more specifically to the Base of the Pyramid (BoP), where the impact of climate change is going to be felt the most?

The poor dealflow, could almost solely be attributed to a broken ecosystem, where financiers and entrepreneurs are not interfacing effectively to understand each other’s needs. Governments and development agencies are pre-occupied with policy formulation without any foresight on implementation, leaving the poor and vulnerable victims of climate change to fend for themselves.

It’s encouraging to see that some key stakeholders have recognised the problem and are attempting to fix the broken system.

As part of this effort, UNEP and the government of Flanders, recently convened a dialogue that brought together key stakeholders from government, development agencies and the entrepreneurship support ecosystem in South Africa. As expected lack of funding for SME’s, poor deal flow of bankable projects and lack of innovative partnerships, were outlined as major bottlenecks in financing climate change adaption.

More of this kind of discourse is required, but talk is also cheap. We need a critical mass of change agents that are willing to work directly with entrepreneurs and communities on the ground to effectively channel resources. Unfortunately this is not the case as most of the incubators and accelerators that purport to support enterprise development are out of touch with the needs of local entrepreneurs.

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Catalysing systems change through sustainability leadership

On 2nd May 2017, we convened a policy dialogue at the Durban ICC to explore how sustainability leadership can address inequality and poverty alleviation in Africa. The event brought together delegates from industry, academia and industry to review the role of sustainability leadership in addressing inequality, systems change and expanding inclusion to address current and future development challenges. The significant outcomes from the dialogue are summarized below.

A key outcome highlighted was the realisation that there was indeed a sustainability leadership crisis in Africa. This stems from a lack of clear understanding and clarity about what sustainability leadership entails and how it can effectively be carried out. The conversations at the dialogue stressed the importance of partnerships as key to driving sustainability leadership. There is also a need for accountability and an active citizenry in seeing that leadership is adhered to and checked. A key take home on this subject was that leadership is not a title.

On the issue of financial inclusion, a key outcome was the need to improve regulation pertaining to financial inclusion in Africa. The discussion identified lack of adequate regulation to support the uptake of fintech in Africa. Numerous examples were given on how lack of regulation can be detrimental to the use of fintech. African governments should adopt legislation quickly to keep up with the ever increasing pace of innovation. Lastly the conversations identified the need to take into consideration culturally sensitive models as a way of increasing financial inclusion

The discussion around social entrepreneurship as a driver of systems change uncovered numerous pertinent challenges that need to be addressed. The participants emphasized financing, political environment and a lack of opportunities as affecting social entrepreneurship. They also recommended partnerships and working as collective as key to driving systems change. A quote following from this session was, “there is no us without us.”

Furthermore, regarding technology in education, a key outcome from the conversations was that there is a myriad of opportunities that exist in this space especially in as far as capacity building is concerned. The participants identified opportunities that lie in agriculture, early childhood development as some areas for innovation. However, they also highlighted challenges that exist for instance lack of support for uptake.

The renewable energy sector was identified as one of the key solutions towards solving the energy crisis that in Africa. The conversations highlighted that African innovators need to explore ways to expand access to energy on the continent. However, renewable energy legislation requires community development and localisation. The focus should not only on job creation but on the development of small businesses in localities.

Special thanks go to the event sponsors; Green Economy Coalition (GEC), Asciona Energy, Barloworld and Old Mutual without whom this dialogue would not have been possible.

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Today 15th March marks our 5th Anniversary

Today is our 5th anniversary as the African Centre for a Green Economy (AfriCGE), and what an incredible journey it has been. It’s very fulfilling to see what began as an idea on a piece of paper come to fruition. Believe it or not the idea to set up the Centre was first conceived more than 10 years ago in 2006 in Beijing, China of all places, where I first met my co-founder Dr Sepo Hachigonta.

We were both PhD students at the University of Cape Town, pursuing studies in related fields, and were on the same American scholarship, but we hadn’t known each other. A random meeting at a student conference led us to realize that, as emerging African leaders we need to proactively build alliances to be at the forefront of providing sustainability leadership on the continent.

It was on this basis that the Centre, was founded as a platform for emerging leaders on the continent to be at the forefront of driving sustainability leadership. Over the last 5 years, we have seen tremendous growth both in the support we have been able to provide to emerging leaders and how we have been able to assert our influence on key issues related to sustainability, poverty alleviation, inclusive growth etc.

Over the next 5 years, we will amplify our influence even more in pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By harnessing the vast talent of young people on the continent, the Centre will continue to be a platform where we will drive green innovation and investments in Africa. Through radical experimentation, we will continue to pursue innovations that help to create opportunities for the most vulnerable, while advocating for inclusive and sustainable growth on the continent.

We have always thought of ourselves at the Centre not only as thought leader, but as action oriented establishment, not afraid to test new ideas or to pursue ventures that we think are impactful. We know a lot about what is needed to bring change, what is lacking is radical action on the ground.

Through our entrepreneurship program, the New Economy Accelerator (NEA) and our Impact investments Fund, we are going to move into a phase where our focus will shift building tangible enterprises that create jobs and advance the ideals of a new economy on the continent.

Many people have supported us in this journey, and continue to do so, thanks so much for helping us pursue our goals as an institution. Thanks also to the amazing team, without whom none of the ideas that were conceived could have gone into execution.


Mao Amis



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Business skills boost for 12 start-up enterprises

The New Economy Accelerator (NEA): Supporting entrepreneurs to scale up their green enterprises

This year, the NEA is focused on supporting enterprises that will transform rural economies in South Africa. A total of 12 start-ups have been selected.

The selection was preceded by an intensive three-day bootcamp, to determine the fit of the etrepreneurs for the programme. “The aim of the NEA is to identify committed social entrepreneurs with innovative businesses that have high potential to transform rural economies in South Africa and the continent.

Rural economies are critical for driving social transformation, yet face significant challenges resulting in high levels of youth unemployment and food insecurity. The NEA aims to promote inclusive business models that will help create opporuntities in rural economies to rejuvenate the sector”, says Dr Mao Amis, Convenor of the New Economy Accelerator.

“Women make a third of the intake and the majority are youth under the age of 35 years. We are delighted about that, because women continue to be under-represented in entrepreneurial development programmes and in many sectors of the economy” he adds.

The entrepreneurs are building innovative solutions for various challenges such as nutrition and sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, digital inclusion and waste management amont others.


Details about the enterprises can be found below or click to view profiles:

Akwande Farm
Agriculture (farming)

Akwande Farm (a business idea at this stage) will be a project built around highly successful business and development training of skilled and semi-skilled staff in the hydroponics, livestock farming, dairy farming, aquaponics farming, food processing, alternative energy (bio energy) production. The project’s aim is to carry out intensive and high turnover production, off a small area, while providing work and leadership experience for locals. The business venture is not yet operational.


Bolimi Bokamoso
Agriculture (skills training)

Offers training and mentorship to emerging farmers. Also, sells agricultural products to farmers. Some aspects of the business are operational. The owner of the business previously worked in the agricultural sector.


DigiTicket SA
online retail platform

Digiticket is an online ticketing solution which caters for internet and transactional solutions such as tickets for events, restaurant meal tickets, accommodation, travel, voucher coupons, and membership card access coupons. The app is also used to market and book for events. The company began trading in January 2016.


Gamagara Cape
Renewable Energy Products

The company is a renewable energy supplier that specializes in the installation of renewable energy products like street solar lights, water heaters and invertors among others. They are also seeking to promote energy access for numerous communities that lack access to the main grid in rural areas of South Africa.


Kalahari Fire
Adventure Events Management – events management.

The company organises family-oriented and alcohol-free outdoor events. Products on offer include go-karting, paintball, obstacle courses and quad biking.


Lamo Fuel Primary Cooperative
Biodiesel Manufacturer

The company produces biofuel from sunflower oil seeds. Has already developed prototypes. The owner is a biochemist. The venture is not yet operational.


Mthura Resources
Farming (Egg retailer)

The company promotes nutrition and income generation in rural areas through poultry farming. Their main products are locally and ethically produced eggs and chicken supplied to communities in its area of operations.


Nutrifounder Consultants
Health & Wellness

The business is focused on educating the community about nutrition, with a special focus on schools. It also consults to private clients.


Roots Accommodation
Property Management – Student Accommodation

The enterprise plans to provide rental accommodation for students using reusable shipping containers. The target market is the local TVET collage in Kuruman, which draws students from neighbouring towns. The venture is not yet operational.


Tebatso African Eco Spa
Health & Wellness

A sanctuary rooted in the use of authentic African methods and rituals to achieve healing and wellbeing, with the use of locally-sourced natural products. The spa also offers local cultural tours and the whole sanctuary is based on an African philosophy that the body, mind and spirit are one.


Thebe Ntehelang
Thebe-Ya-Setshaba Investment Holdings

The business is a waste management centre. Operations include the storage and re-purposing of tyres.


The broad objective of the NEA Programme is to identify SMMEs in South Africa with a high potential for social and environmental impact; and provide them with the necessary support and development assistance. The programme seeks to activate local economies in South Africa to build an inclusive and prosperous society.

The NEA is wholly-owned by the African Centre for a Green Economy (AfriCGE).


For further information and for interview opportunities with Dr. Amis, please contact:

Phumeza Mgxashe
African Centre for a Green Economy
Communications Manager
Tel 021 713 4390


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We-Africa Lab launched to drive a wellbeing economy in Africa

One of the imperatives of the transition to a green economy is to expand the current narrow definitions of development to include well-being of people and the environment. A well-being economy is one that has at its core, the awareness of the challenges that society faces and provides tools and strategies to address these according to context. This drive for a well-being economy arises at a time where growth policies have only exacerbated the gap between the rich and the poor while depleting the earth’s natural resources at an alarming rate. The well-being economy also calls for more inclusive and democratic forms of participation in the economy. It is said that no enduring economic, cultural and political transformation has been achieved without a solid constituency demanding and enabling that change – changing the narrative and the power base.

It is on this basis that the WE-Africa Lab, a group of 28 African thought leaders from eight African countries from across sub-Saharan Africa launched in November. The We-Africa Lab is comprised of policymakers, social entrepreneurs, academics and development practitioners among others. The Lab, gathered in Cape Town in November 2016 for its inaugural meeting, in a process that is designed to last for 1 year, comprising of three physical meetings in any one of the participating countries.

The We-Africa Lab is convened by GIZ, WE-Africa Network, and the African Centre for a Green Economy. The inaugural 4 days meeting in Cape Town, yielded very exciting outcomes, with the team split into smaller groups of 4, focusing on specific topics that will be explored over the next 12 months, to collectively drive the goal of achieving a wellbeing economy in Africa.

The Lab was designed as a form of deep dialogue capable of triggering personal transformation, which can only become a driver of change if connected with collective leadership and strategic action. The three levels – personal, collective and strategic – are essential to developing transformative actions that are sustainable over time and with significant outcomes and impact. Too often good ideas are not implemented, because people struggle to organize effectively or fail to alter the structural constraints hindering social change.

Through dedicated sessions focusing on personal transformation, collective action and strategic thinking and through a forward-looking orientation based on the skills, experiences and initiatives already developed by the participants, the Lab aims to inspire leaders across the African continent to lead sustainable change and generate ripple effects throughout society.

The next Lab meeting will take place in May in a country yet to be decided, in the meantime the groups will continue to develop their independent projects and collaborate online with their colleagues until the next meeting.