African association aims to drive cleantech development

By Erin Voegele | October 25, 2011

The African CleanTech Association launched Oct. 24 and, according to ACTA spokeswoman Suza Adam, the primary goal of the group is to assist in the development of African enterprises and technologies in the cleantech space while improving business sustainability and socioeconomic community development.

The association represents a wide variety of technologies. As far as biofuel related groups, Adam noted ACTA represents jatropha plantations, as well as sugarcane and sugar beet producers. Some members also have processes that can improve the extraction and conversion of agricultural waste into feedstocks and fuels. 

“The purpose of the association goes beyond mere introduction of projects, but rather becoming a vehicle to bring about greater awareness and changes within countries in the region, [such as becoming] a mouthpiece for the industry and represent it at government and other levels,” Adam said. “Through our networks, we can also act as a catalyst towards initiating and promoting biofuel projects.”

Adam also points out that the cleantech sector in Africa is more immature than in other markets around the world. However, she also stressed that clean technologies can be an enabling platform to reach remote and underdeveloped regions in Africa, where infrastructure development would otherwise not be possible.  In addition, she added that sub-Saharan Africa has been traditionally dependent on foreign sources of oil, resulting in large amounts of money leaving those African countries. “This added to the increase in the price of crude oil is making it more and more economical to produce biofuels locally,” Adam continued. “As a result of this realization, even countries which have in the past not been interested in biofuel production [are] now turning to these activities. An example of this are [the] huge tracts of jatropha being planted in Malawi, Mozambique and Angola.” 

According to Adam, ACTA has been designed to be specifically suited to assist in cleantech development in Africa. “The African Cleantech Association is unique in that it has access to individuals who have an in-depth knowledge of Africa, its politics, culture, polices and cleantech needs,” Adam said. “We therefore believe that this association would differentiate itself from similar associations in the development world, as it is not going to represent just technology developers, but also project initiators, promoters, investors and end users. It intends to become a business hub for clean technology initiatives in Africa.”

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