Turning water into gold?
What is the green hydrogen boom all about? Let’s look at the facts: Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. Hydrogen is light, storable, energy-dense, and produces no direct emissions of pollutants. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA, the green hydrogen potential is estimated to be twenty times the global primary energy demand in 2050. Of course, there is a “but”: on Earth, hydrogen is not readily available but most of our hydrogen is attached to oxygen atoms and therefor found in water. So, if we find a clean and cost-efficient way to produce hydrogen, this element may provide the key to powering our planet sustainably.
The next big thing
At Make-IT in Africa, we support African digital innovation ecosystems. Green hydrogen may or may not be the next big thing, but we believe it has the potential to be a game changer in the green tech space. Innovation is a lot about trusting in potential and future breakthroughs. Therefore we ask ourselves: How might we ensure that digital startups and local companies in Africa benefit from the green hydrogen boom? What can we do that local innovators not only participate in green hydrogen developments but eventually also drive them?
How to foster inclusive innovation?
The hydrogen landscape has many areas where digital innovation can play a role: from producing green hydrogen to its storage, processing, and finally, using it, for example, as a source of power. We have many questions: what will the future hydrogen value chain and ecosystem look like in African countries? Which ones are the preferred scenarios in terms of inclusive innovation? Which decisions do we need to take today to get to the future we want? Which opportunities exist for African startups and local SMEs? How can they benefit from the high investment into hydrogen production plants and the necessary infrastructure like ports and pipelines?
ii2030 Green Hydrogen in Africa Edition
Our partner Endeva will explore these questions in its “ii2030 Green Hydrogen in Africa edition” with a system and multi-stakeholder perspective. ii2030 stands for inclusive innovation for the future. The answers will inform further interventions to support African innovation ecosystems in the green tech space. Endeva will create system maps for Kenya, Namibia and South Africa, yet scan the whole continent for promising startups, including countries like Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and Nigeria.
“The green hydrogen boom is like a gold rush. Everybody wants to be there first and grab the resources. Yet, it is a sector that needs significant investments and bears a considerable risk of excluding smaller and local actors. Therefore, it is now the right moment to reflect on a desirable future and create an inclusive green hydrogen value chain.”
The ii2030 Green Hydrogen in Africa Edition was kicked-off in December 2022 with an initial inception, followed by a consultation phase. In May and June 2023, a selected group of stakeholders will co-create solutions to reconfigure or create a desirable innovation ecosystem where African digital startups and local companies benefit from the green hydrogen boom. For more information about the ii2030 Green Hydrogen in Africa Edition” check out the project website or contact Endeva’s project lead Claudia Knobloch (email@example.com).
Anna Vambe is a member of our Make-IT in Africa team, based in Germany.