Investing in Africa can stop climate change, if we just ask the right questions

SHIFT Business Festival focused also on the theme of climate change. Africa is full of possibilities, both for climate-friendly development and for new business. According to Jumanne Mtambalike, one of the key names of the African startup ecosystem, development hinges on supporting the skills of local communities and on implementing technologies that can help to combat climate change. “Technology is developing rapidly and in the kind of direction that it can be used to solve ever more complex issues – if we know how to phrase the questions that we’re attempting to solve with technology,” Mtambalike says.

The effects of climate change are typically felt most harshly by the socioeconomically underprivileged. Diminished crops and extreme weather are particularly harmful to people and communities of low income. The less stable a community is, the harder it is to adjust to changing conditions.

“The societal impact will be seen in particular in health, agriculture and education. Used right, AI can increase efficiency and productivity in these sectors to a level that has never been attained in human history,” Mtambalike describes. Achieving improved socioeconomic balance would increase stability in developing regions. This would both improve these regions’ ability to adjust to climate change and even directly reduce climate change.

The positive change does not occur by itself, however. In Mtambalike’s words, it must be community-based: happening on the communities’ terms and through supporting the skills and education of the community members. “Building foundation skills and developing human capital is important. Equipping youths with relevant skills to be able to work side by side with machines and high-end technologies. Workers also need to re-skill and re-learn to be able to take advantage of new technologies and opportunities.”

Developing skills and human capital in Africa also creates new possibilities for collaboration. SHIFT, for instance, is partnered with Finland’s first community-based climate fund, Hope Fund. Investing in Hope Fund funds the planting of new trees in Afric and also educates locals to care for the trees, improving the planting project’s success and creating possibilities new livelihood

Africa’s opportunities were discussed also in Europe Forum Turku, with African-European collaboration being discussed on Thursday and Friday.

Text: Miia-Tatjaana Salakka & Vilma Savolainen
Photo: Julius Töyrylä