In Focus: Africa Climate Tech Summit – Why it is important for us to Leverage Innovation for Climate Resilience NOW

March 5, 2024

The Africa Tech Summit is a premier event that brings together key players from across the tech and climate sectors in Africa and beyond. This annual gathering in Nairobi serves as a crucial platform for startups, investors, corporates, and policymakers to exchange ideas, forge partnerships, and explore the latest innovations driving a climate resilient future on the continent.


The summit, which is also hosting the Africa Climate Tech Summit, spans various critical areas, including fintech, agritech, e-mobility, and renewable energy, making it an essential convergence point for those at the forefront of Africa’s technological and environmental advancements. As Persistent, we are deeply invested in the intersection of technology and climate action, participating in the Africa Climate Tech Summit was not just an opportunity but an imperative.

Climate Tech for Africa - Now

Despite being the lowest contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Africa is going to be the most adversely affected by a warming planet. Technology is integral to tackling the multifaceted challenges of climate change in Africa. It offers innovative solutions that are adaptable, scalable, and capable of making significant impacts not only locally and continental but with global opportunities. Recognizing the critical need to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and ensure a resilient future, Persistent is committed to invest in Climate tech, scaling existing solutions like solar energy and developing new technologies to enhance the continent’s adaptability to an increasingly volatile climate.

Potential Opportunities

Green Energy Projects: Africa receives a high level of solar irradiance, making it one of the continents with the greatest potential for solar energy. On average, much of Africa experiences more than 2,000 kWh/m²/year of solar irradiance, with some regions, particularly in the Sahara Desert, receiving over 2,500 kWh/m²/year. Africa’s vast renewable energy resources, including solar, wind, and geothermal, represent a significant untapped potential, with just 1% of its solar generation capacity being tapped.  Climate tech can facilitate the development and scaling of renewable energy projects, contributing to energy security and global efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Agricultural Innovation: Though 70% of the food in Africa is produced by smallholder farmers, they have limited access to adaptation technology. Agriculture is a major economic activity in Africa, providing employment for about two-thirds of the continent’s working population. Several technologies are emerging as game-changers for agriculture in Africa, offering innovative solutions to enhance productivity, sustainability, and resilience in the sector, in order to improve yields, reduce losses and ensure that we can grow food production while reducing greenhouse gasses to develop and expand agricultural technology across Africa.

Carbon Sequestration and Trading: With covering about one-third of the world’s habitable land, Africa has the potential to play a key role in global carbon markets through reforestation, afforestation, and sustainable land management projects. Climate tech can enable the monitoring and verification of carbon sequestration efforts, opening new revenue streams for countries and communities.

Waste to Energy and Circular Economy: Technologies that convert waste into energy or reusable materials can address waste management challenges while contributing to the circular economy, reducing environmental impact and generating economic benefits.

Water Conservation and Management: Scientists predict that by 2025, nearly 230 million Africans will face water scarcity, and up to 460 million people  will live in water-stressed areas, highlighting the urgent need for action to address this critical issue​Innovative climate tech solutions in water management can address these challenges of water scarcity and quality which are essential for human health, agriculture, and industry.

Fintech: Fintech possesses the capacity to underpin the financial infrastructure across all the aforementioned sectors, thereby bolstering each one’s objectives through enhanced financial mechanisms and support.

Currently, the two largest investment opportunities in Africa are fintech and climate tech, respectively. Examples of existing business models include the above mentioned sectors. As Persistent has more than a decade of experience investing in renewable energy projects across Africa, we are excited about the opportunity to expand our investments into even more emerging sectors that are focused on reducing greenhouse gasses and building a more resilient economy.

Persistent - a Thought Leader

The Africa Tech Summit represents one of the single most important platforms in Africa for sharing the evolution in markets, technologies, and emerging trends.  It gives new companies the opportunity to showcase their vision and investors and other stakeholders to learn more about the opportunities.

A highlight of Persistent’s participation was the co-hosting of the masterclass titled “Mastering Climate Tech Innovation in Africa”, in partnership with Catalyst Fund and FSD Africa. The class  served as a pivotal forum for fostering meaningful dialogue between investors and pioneering climate tech companies. This interactive session was designed not just as a presentation of ideas but as a collaborative workshop, encouraging active engagement and exchange of insights among all participants. The primary objective was to explore how startups and investors could work in concert to achieve sustainable development goals, thereby driving impactful change within the climate tech landscape. Structured to facilitate deep discussions, the masterclass included breakout sessions that allowed smaller groups to delve into specific thematic areas relevant to the climate tech ecosystem. Entrepreneurs had the opportunity to articulate their challenges, aspirations, and innovative approaches, while investors provided feedback, guidance, and perspectives on aligning business models with sustainability and scalability. As Africa’s Climate Venture Builder, it is vital for us to be in constant exchange with entrepreneurs and startups.

Persistent Venture Builder Clara Li reflects: “To close the global adaptation funding gap and to further grow the climate tech sector, key stakeholders emphasized the need for greater availability of different types of capital and continued efforts to derisk businesses. Based on the stage of the business, there should be capital available ranging from concessional to market grade capital. Simultaneously, investors play a key role in derisking businesses at every stage of the continuum – from ideation to potential IPO. This is a good reminder for Persistent because, since we sit at the beginning of the fundraising continuum, we are able to lean into more risk so that later stage investors can invest in series B and growth stage companies.”

Key Takeaways from our Favorite Session

With our upcoming $100 million Africa Climate Venture Builder Fund (ACV Fund), Persistent is expanding into new areas such as the agricultural transition. In preparation, our research team has been conducting market analysis on how the volatility in prices of the voluntary carbon market (VCM) may impact the commercial viability and scalability of nature-based solutions.

Hearing from members of KOKO Networks and BasiGo’s team helped demystify both the ambiguity and complexity in the VCM. The masterclass was refreshing in how it provided a space to promote transparent conversations across investors, project developers, founders, regarding the actual experiences developers have faced in attempting to tap into carbon finance mechanisms. It was illuminating to learn about the actual verification, validation, and annual fees for a single carbon project and its impact on a company’s unit economics. Depending on the business model and how central carbon credits will be as a revenue stream, there is a significant upfront capital investment with high uncertainty of the payback period given the volatility of the carbon market.

Further discussions are needed on how to reduce barriers in accessing carbon markets, specifically regarding timeline, cost, and standardizing methodologies. Project developers are in an optimal position to help define standards and propose new protocols. For instance, there could be sector wide standards that use digital platforms that would enable the financial burden to be shared across relevant companies.

Looking forward to the 7th edition of the Africa Climate Tech Summit

Our team was thrilled to be part of ATS’ 6th edition and amongst the 1500+ delegates from 70 countries that participated. Consisting of four summits, the event has successfully brought together a diverse set of stakeholders including tech corporations, mobile operators, fintechs, investors, leading start-ups, and regulators that are driving business and investment forward.

Overall, it was an insightful experience to learn and see firsthand how the climate tech space is evolving in Africa.

Venture Builder Serge Musingilwa shared: “I believe the summit was a success. It was great to see all the innovations happening on the continent, largely focused on bringing the underserved (smallholder farmers, mom-and-pop shop owners) into the financial system through flexible IT supported solutions. We, as a continent, continue to develop solutions (both in products/services and investments) that best fit the state of our own economies rather than import expectations that do not align with our realities.”

For 2025, Persistent is enthusiastic about the prospect of even more opportunities to interact with the diverse range of entrepreneurs in attendance. Events like these play a crucial role in forging new connections and deepening existing relationships within the entrepreneurial community. We look forward to exploring additional structured approaches to facilitate these valuable interactions in future gatherings.

Meanwhile we hope to engage with many of you on different platforms. You can also reach out to the team through