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Could climate finance power Africa's energy needs? [Business Africa]

Ignatius Annor interviews Hasnaine Yavarhoussen, CEO of Groupe Filatex, Madagascar   -  
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Business Africa

Think of how food ends up on your table. Your local farmer uses various tools including a tiny mobile phone to make that happen. But if there’s not sustainable energy, humanity might be doomed right? It’s a clear example of what could happen without the needed investment in Africa’s energy needs. Climate financing is on the rise to tackle these challenges. But could that mitigate the energy needs of the continent? Hasnaine Yavarhoussen is CEO of Groupe Filatex in Madagascar. He tells Business Africa’s Ignatius Annor from Antananarivo that: ‘’There is climate finance by the different actors that must be supported especially by the African Development Bank, which has increased to 35% in 2019. There is a shift that we must support from fossil fuels to greener energy.’’

Ivory Coast’ luxury shoemaker

Engelo Eric Bote is an Ivorian shoemaker, but not like the others. His products are made for Ivory Coast's wealthy, people with a nose for luxury. For seven years, Eric Bote makes shoes for men and women. His clients are the elite dressers.

To buy a pair from his shop, one has to part with an average of 130,000 CFA francs (200 euros).

His shoes are all hand-made, it takes him days to sew and weave just one pair. Bote argues that mass production using automated machines is bad for quality and precision achieved with a human touch.

"If we want to keep our know-how, our handmade, because whoever talks about industrialization, talks about reducing the contribution of Man, so we're going to move, why not, to 80% machine and 20% handmade. Is that what I'm really interested in? No. I want a business that, even if it has to produce 100, 200 or 300 pairs... Because let's not forget, luxury is characterized by scarcity. You have machines that can cut you 8,000 pieces of that leather in an hour, but we're not in the luxury business anymore", he said.

Bote dreams of seeing Ivory Coast become the leader in the production and marketing of luxury leather goods. He says government policy needs to support the sector as a niche industry.

"There is a lack of structuring. The school will not train everyone, so do we think about all those people that the school cannot train? Who will train them? Shoemaking can be a catch-22 that can pick up a lot of people", Eric Bote added.

Bote's journey is a source of emulation in the west African country which is increasingly entrepreneurship to solve youth unemployment.

C.A.R: Hope for entrepreneurship

The end of the social crisis in the Central African Republic has given young people new hope.

In the capital Bangui, several of them have opted to undertake various self-help projects to reintegrate into society.

This is the case of Joslin who, after having taken refuge in the camps for displaced persons severally, decided to make artisanal cooking pots along with his brothers in the Yangato neighborhood of Bangui .

"We fled to find refuge in the Internally Displaced Persons sites, and this is where we settled during the unfortunate events'', recalls Joslin Venetoungou.

Molds, fine sand, charcoal and fire, plus the raw materials collected are the daily routine of Joslin and his brothers in this workshop. Here, pots are made in sets of three or four depending on the quantity of materials available.

A little over an hour and a half is used to produce a set much to the satisfaction of clients.

Central African authorities, concerned about the future of the youth of this country in the grip of armed conflicts, have just initiated an investment guarantee fund.

The aim is to help to improve their working conditions of young entrepreneurs and also to encourage those who have taken up arms to abandon it.

"The share capital of this fund is ten billion CFA francs and the first partner is the State'', said Lawan Mohammed, C.A.R's Minister for Small and Medium Scales Enterprises.

It's an initiative longed for by young Central African entrepreneurs, but conditions attached to access this fund remain to be defined.