Amujae Leader Dr. Yakama Manty Jones called for favorable financial policies, access to investment, and support for youth innovation to support Africa’s emerging green economy and build back from the COVID-19 pandemic during a recent webinar.
The webinar, which focused on financing a green recovery, was the third in a series hosted by the Eleven Eleven Twelve Foundation, a Nigerian nonprofit committed to improving the quality of life for disadvantaged Nigerians by supporting business startups and entrepreneurs, especially those with a focus on improving the quality of the environment.
Dr. Jones emphasized the need to look beyond a country’s level of industrialization if we are to “build back better”:
“We should not limit the thinking or the need for investment in the green economy to how much industrialization has happened in a country. We need to be more proactive and leapfrog ahead, so we can address the damage that has already happened and make sure we’re in a better place to reduce the negative impact.”
Dr. Jones, who is the Director of Research and Delivery at the Ministry of Finance in Sierra Leone, said that the best “build back better” agenda is an inclusive one. While governments, presidents, and ministers “should drive the process for … local leaders, community leaders, the youth, women, should all be part of the conversation,” she said.
She also explained that governments must also enact policies to encourage people and businesses to make more environmentally friendly choices:
“We need to be more intentional about protecting our environment and preventing climate change, and we also need to have policies around this. When we have policies driving behavior change we know that when it comes to financial investment…the money won’t be going down the drain, it will be towards sustainable change.”
Dr. Jones emphasized that access to finance is a significant barrier to innovations in green technology in Africa. Financing is “critical,” she said:
“If we have the people, we have the ideas, we have the policies, but we don’t have the financial resources to drive this change, then I think it will be mostly a futile exercise.”
Governments can encourage innovation in green technologies by reducing financial risk for investors, making loans more flexible and supportive for green innovation, and directing funding to technologies in the early stages of research and development—helping African startups address local issues. This, rather than directing funding to tried-and-tested technologies that are already attracting investments, will make the green technology R&D space more inclusive in Africa.
Dr. Jones also encouraged governments and businesses to form strategic public-private partnerships to create apprenticeship schemes and job placements for young people. In turn, these young people will develop skills and contribute to the long-term growth of the green economy. Encouraging ambition and innovation, Dr. Jones told the audience that “the possibilities are endless.”
Watch the full event here.