NAIROBI, January 31, 2010--Kenyans are set to reap the rewards of a new initiative to help local companies develop and deploy climate friendly technologies that will create thousands of new green jobs.
The world’s first Climate Innovation Center (CIC) will be established in Nairobi, according to an announcement in Nairobi today by Andrew Steer, World Bank’s Special Envoy for Climate Change.
The initiative was announced during a Danish sponsored conference, ‘Green Growth in Kenya’, which focused on the private sector’s role in promoting green growth in the context of the county’s changing climate and increasing resource constraints.
The CIC, spearheaded by the Royal Danish Embassy (DANIDA) and the Bank’s Information for Development Program (infoDev), will harness Kenya’s private sector in boosting industry competitiveness and job creation and help the country to better respond to the challenges of climate change.
"The creative spark of private Kenyan and African entrepreneurs can transform climate challenges into market opportunities," said Steer. "This Climate Innovation Center will provide the help to make it happen."
Accelerating innovation in emerging technologies is essential to help reduce the current and long-term impacts of climate change. However developing countries, which are most immediately threatened by these impacts, lag in their capacity to transfer, develop and deploy innovative climate technologies.
The infoDev Climate Innovation Center therefore has a role to play in transforming Kenya to a middle income in line with the Government’s Vision 2030.
“This initiative will specifically enable Kenya to achieve the essential technological advancement and catalyze innovative technology among small and medium enterprises,” said Alex Alusa, the Climate Change Policy Advisor in the Prime Minister’s office.
In the first five years, the CIC is expected to create more than 70 sustainable climate technology businesses, generating some 4,600 direct and indirect jobs. Over the next decade, it is estimated that over 24,000 jobs will be created in Kenya.
The CIC will provide targeted financing and capacity building to entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to scale up and deploy innovative clean technology solutions that meet local needs and create local jobs. This leverages infoDev’s successful experience supporting SMEs in information and other technologies.
“I’m especially interested in tapping the CIC’s proof-of-concept financing. We have a great product that could be successfully adapted for other applications,” said Anthony Ng’eno, the Chief Executive Officer of WinAfrique Technologies Ltd—a Kenyan hybrid renewable energy company serving the telecom and rural electrification sectors. “The CIC will allow us to accelerate that process so we can significantly increase our market size and ramp up staffing.”
Danida has supported the CIC concept, complementing Denmark’s broader private sector and business support program in Kenya.
“The private sector has a pivotal role in the economy, contributing to 80 percent of Kenya’s GDP. The CIC will assist Kenya’s 1.7 million informal SMEs and community entrepreneurs to compete in one of the most promising sectors of the 21st century while helping to provide critical solutions to the needs of the rural poor.” said Geert Aagaard Andersen, the Danish Ambassador to Kenya.
The need for green growth in Kenya is characterized by low electrification rates, high costs of conventional energy, water shortages, and increasing agricultural pressures caused by climate variability. These challenges persist in the context of the country’s 40% unemployment rate.
In addition to the CIC, The World Bank Group and Danida support a number of ongoing projects in Kenya which intersect the country’s climate, energy and economic development needs.
InfoDev is establishing a global network of CICs that enables developing countries’ private sectors to proactively and profitably take part in green growth. Over 120 stakeholders in Kenya assisted in design of the CIC that will provide a holistic range of services that remove local market barriers to innovation. The infoDev CIC will offer new ventures financing, technical assistance, market information, policy advice, capacity building and more.
InfoDev’s vision is to build a global network of 30 Climate Innovation Centers that will create over 2,400 enterprises, generate 240,000 direct and indirect jobs, install 3000 MW of off-grid energy capacity, provide energy access to over 28 million people, deliver clean water to over 10 million households and mitigate 65 million tons of CO2.
InfoDev is a technology and innovation led development finance program in the Financial and Private Sector Development unit of the World Bank and International Finance Corporation.