20 May 2017
Have you ever heard of Burkina Faso’s “Green Brigade”? Picture teams of dozens of women each regularly cleaning the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou at dawn! Many urban dwellers in the country’s capital have testified the positive contribution of the green brigade to the cleanness of the city. The green brigade was awarded an international prize in 2006 for “providing regular employment to needy women while promoting cleanliness”.
Photo : The green brigade of Ouagadougou during the celebration of Burkina Faso’s Independence Day— 11 December 2015. Source : 226Infos
Like the green brigade, many other initiatives in Burkina Faso—from waste management to solar energy—put environmental concerns at the heart of their operations. People are increasingly aware of the importance of pursuing green development in the country.
Aimé Kaboré is the founder of Jardin Green Hope, a start-up that converts water hyacinths and organic waste into natural fertilisers. To many people in Burkina Faso, the aquatic plant found in a number of water reservoirs, dams, lagoons and rivers is first known for its invasive and harmful effects to plant and animal species living in the waters where it grows. Mr Kaboré and his team found through the transformation of water hyacinths a means to provide solutions to farmers who are faced with lower agricultural productivity due to lower soil fertility.
Small enterprises, like Jardin Green Hope, that wish to expand – especially those in areas not connected to the national electricity grid – need access to electricity. The International Energy Agency indicates that in 2012 more than 10 million out of the 16 million people living in Burkina Faso had no access to electricity. Meaningful manufacturing activities cannot happen with little or no energy access.
Photo: Water hyacinth Source: Seed.uno
But, some private companies like Sahelia Solar have started to use innovative business models (pay-as-you-go) to provide solar energy systems to off-grid agro-processing plants managed by rural cooperatives. Tapping into one of Burkina Faso’s most abundant resources, the sun, to supply clean energy to small enterprises represents a double-win for the economy and the environment.
Installation of solar panels – Source: Seed.uno
Green economy prospects in Burkina Faso look promising given the resilience and strong willingness of key interested groups in undertaking social and business ventures that can help address the ecological challenges that they face and improve their well-being while generating economic benefits. For a country that frequently has to deal with insufficient rainfalls, longer dry seasons and other impacts of climate change, green economy offer prospects to inclusive and sustained economic growth.
The overall growth of the economy reached at least 5% in 2016 and is expected to expand at 5.9% in 2017. According to the Green Economy assessment in Burkina Faso as conducted by the UN Environment Programme in 2014 “greening the economy would generate GDP growth rates of USD 37-41 billion by 2050”. This is equivalent to an annual rate of 5.1- 5.3%.
Given the foreseen benefits of green economy, many interested groups in Burkina Faso are working together to achieve more results. The Partnership for Action on Green Economy and the Burkinabe government hosted the first Green Economy Academy in Ouagadougou from 14 to 16 December 2016.
More recently, in a series of activities organised in Ouagadougou, SEED and its local partner Afrik Eveil provided training to groups of Business Development Services (BDS) providers, who were taught how to integrate social and environmental dimensions into conventional business models. This training took place from 31 January to 3 February 2017.
It was followed by the first phase of a workshop that brought together teams of nascent eco-entrepreneurs who got the opportunity to discuss and refine their business ideas, from 7 to 9 February 2017. Before the second phase, the young entrepreneurs will have to test their ideas on potential customers and partners. After the second workshop, successful teams are expected to be well-equipped find partners, funders and enter the market.
Awareness about green growth is demonstrated through actions taken by public and private initiatives such as the “Green Brigade”, Jardin Green Hope, Sahelia Solar. Training and capacity-building opportunities including the Green Economy Academy and SEED programmes can provide key green economy actors with some of the tools that they need to succeed.
In all, a positive momentum is building up. But we need is to work harder to inspire more action, to support more initiatives and take their successes to scale. We all deserve a healthy and less-polluted living environment.
Damien Somé is the founder of Afrik Eveil, an an accelerator and think tank for African entrepreneurship. He holds a Master of Arts in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and a Bachelor in Business Administration from Tamkang University, Taipei.
Damien currently serves Research Fellow at the Africa Progress Panel, chaired by former UN Secretary general Kofi Annan, where he contributes to Panel’s research and advocacy in the areas of energy, climate, agriculture, fisheries and extractive industries.