Blog Article — December 12, 2023 — Claudia Knobloch

ii2030 Green Hydrogen in Africa Edition

The 2023 edition of Endeva’s ii2030 focused on the question: 'How can startups and local innovators benefit from the potential of green hydrogen in Kenya, Namibia and South Africa?'

With the help of more than 150 stakeholders from across the industry, Endeva identified the challenges, opportunities, and subsequent levers for system change to ensure startups and local innovators can play a role in the green hydrogen sector. The stakeholders developed prototypes of solutions to support startups and innovators in entering the green hydrogen sector: A process to coordinate skills development in Namibia, a Centre of Excellence in Kenya and a Startup Hub in South Africa.


The ii2030 Green Hydrogen in Africa Edition was a year-long process that began in December 2022 to help understand the existing ecosystem and explore opportunities for local startups and (digital) innovators in the green hydrogen sectors in Kenya, Namibia and South Africa. The ii2030 methodology provides local actors a platform to voice their needs and contribute to co-creating grassroots solutions for improving the ecosystem in which they participate.

The ii2030 Green Hydrogen in Africa edition was organised by Endeva and fully funded by Make-IT in Africa on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Local organisations like SANEDI in South Africa, the Namibia Green Hydrogen Research Insitute and KenGen, and the Green Hydrogen Association in Kenya supported Endeva.


Startups in green hydrogen in Kenya

Kenya has been a pioneer in green electricity generation for quite some time, and President William Ruto‘s administration is further pushing towards 100% grid electricity being generated by renewable sources. Green hydrogen (GH2) will play a significant role in this strategy. The public and private sector have articulated the best way for Kenya to position itself as a green hydrogen innovator AND ensure that local communities and small businesses benefit from the potential in the sector.

Although there are already diverse actors in the hydrogen space, e.g. companies, public stakeholders and academia, there is a lack of startups and small enterprises dedicated to the commercial opportunities in GH2 and its products and services.

The challenges identified through the ii2030 process range from lack of access to finance, fear of risk in communities and limited skills to very few and unclear business models. Stakeholders articulated several innovative recommendations to tackle these obstacles. The most considerable consensus settled on the need for a Green Hydrogen Centre of Excellence (CoE) that would serve as a “one-stop shop” to bring together ecosystem actors in technical training, commercial ideas and investment opportunities to co-create successful startups and subsequent jobs.

Watch the video of the co-creation work in Nairobi here. More details can be found in the Kenya country brief on innovation in green hydrogen here.


Startups in green hydrogen in Namibia

Namibia’s potential in green hydrogen could transform the local economy and the energy sector. However, the current ecosystem is dominated by large international projects and players, and digital startups and local innovators are not in the focus. Some systemic dynamics hinder the small actors, including non-inclusive policies, lack of awareness of opportunities, resources and support channelled principally to large corporations, and limited local skills in green hydrogen.

The green hydrogen sector in Namibia is still at an early stage. Yet, the country’s position as a global leader in critical resources, such as access to renewable energy and support from the government and development partners, is a vital asset for the sector’s growth. The presidency established the Inter-Ministerial Green Hydrogen Council in 2021, and the body published Namibia’s Green Hydrogen and Derivatives Strategy in 2022.

Only a few Namibian companies and startups are active in the sector. The skills and knowledge in green hydrogen and related sectors like renewable energies are underdeveloped, and startups have only a few opportunities. The overall policies, offtake, and financing situation are unclear due to the sector's infancy. Nevertheless, the potential in the industry is excellent, and many stakeholders are starting to explore the sector, as detailed in the next section.

During a co-creation workshop in Windhoek in June 2023, 16 organisations collaborated to co-create systemic solutions enabling startups to grasp opportunities in the green hydrogen sector. The workshop unveiled the need for more coordination in the skills development sector. The Ministry for Higher Education, Technology and Innovation is currently considering different options as to how best to coordinate with all public and private sector actors to exchange on skills for the green hydrogen sector.

Watch the video of the co-creation work in Windhoek here. More details can be found in the Namibia country brief on innovation in green hydrogen here.


Startups in green hydrogen in South Africa

South Africa has been an important regional player in the green hydrogen industry since the launch of the Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) programme in 2008. Since the publication of the South African Hydrogen Society Roadmap and the establishment of the South Africa Green Hydrogen Summit in 2022, the Green Hydrogen National Programme has announced 19 large-scale green hydrogen projects shown on the map on the right.

South Africa’s access to natural energy resources and local deposits of platinum group metals, or PGMs, drive localisation and innovation in the sector. This is spurned by a high level of coordination and prioritisation of green hydrogen led by The Presidency, an incubation ecosystem fostered by the early establishment of HySA, and enthusiastic participation from universities.

The potential in the green hydrogen sector holds many opportunities for digital startups and innovators in South Africa. This situation is demonstrated by the attention to the industry and the number of startups already present along the green hydrogen value chain. However, while some ecosystem support is in place, systemic dynamics hinder further growth for startups. Insufficient green hydrogen skills and skills programmes, a lack of collaboration among startups and large corporations, and constrained access to finance are all barriers that limit growth.

During the ii2030 co-creation workshop in Cape Town in June 2023, the participants co-created a systemic solution enabling startups to grasp opportunities in the green hydrogen sector. They developed a concept for the Green Hydrogen (GH2) Innovation Hub, a one-stop shop for green hydrogen innovation.

Watch the video of the co-creation work in Cape Town here. More details can be found in the South African country brief on innovation in green hydrogen here.


About the Author

Claudia Knobloch is the General Manager of Endeva e.V.

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