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Climate tech is one of the hottest categories for European and US startups and scaleu-ps, with more than $111bn (£97bn) raised globally last year. Hundreds of companies are developing innovative ways to slash emissions and remove carbon from the atmosphere, accelerating rich nations towards net zero.
But in the world’s poorest continent, green tech fulfils different needs. Africa is responsible for just 3.8% of annual global carbon emissions and most of its population has a minuscule environmental impact. The main challenge, then, is how to adapt to an already-changing climate while developing its economy sustainably. It’s one a new crop of tech founders is facing head-on.
Addressing the problem of unreliable water supplies
“People really are starting to connect the dots on how technology can help them navigate the impact of climate change,” says Brian Bosire. A serial entrepreneur at just 27, he has founded three technology-led companies in his native Kenya.
The newest, HydroIQ, addresses the pressing problem of unreliable water supplies. Kenya is in the grips of its worst drought in 40 years, yet poor infrastructure means half of its piped water is lost. As a result, millions in Nairobi pay monthly water bills that average 11% of household income, but “two, three days a week there is no water coming out of the taps,” Bosire says.
There’s something really special that comes with designing a solution for a problem you have lived with all your life
To remedy this, HydroIQ’s technology monitors water networks to identify leaks, predict demand and give utility companies and consumers more accurate billing information. Backed by Techstars, Partech Partners and Google for Startups, it has already expanded to Guatemala, with Nigeria and South Africa lined up next.
“Water is a critical resource, and it always elicits some emotions, especially when you’re trying to change how things are done,” Bosire says of the regulatory hurdles he’s faced along the way. “But there’s something really special that comes with connecting with a problem that you have lived with literally all your life and designing a solution that works.”