image Gerd Altmann

Technology Adoption as a Catalyst Enabling Sustainable Business Growth in Africa

Introduction

The world today is experiencing a new kind of industrial revolution: the fourth industrial revolution characterised by advancements in technologies in areas such as renewable energy, artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology, nanotechnology, blockchain, space technologies, virtual and augmented realities, and robotics, among others. These technologies hold immense potential, especially in areas of sustainability. Despite these advancements, African countries still lag behind developed countries in terms of innovation and adoption. Moreover, the effects of climate change characterised by changes in weather patterns further showcase the importance of adopting new technologies to cushion economies from these adverse effects. As such, despite many studies on the importance of technology adoption, few have focused on technology as a key factor in sustainable growth.

Thus, the push behind this research goes beyond technological advancements as key disruptors in economic growth but focuses on sustainability with a focus on African countries, especially sub-Saharan countries which are facing many issues regarding sustainability. Moreover, the research aligns with Africa Vision 2030 and Agenda 2063. Agenda 2063 aims to transform Africa into an economic powerhouse through sustainable development. Africa Vision 2030, on the other hand, aims to end all forms of poverty. As such, to achieve these milestones, there is a need to focus on the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social, and economic (Purvis et al).

Gevme
 fig1: (Gevme)

Thus, as the talk of sustainability continues to be the focus across the globe, there is a need to understand these three pillars and the role technology plays towards sustainable growth. Hence, the research question aims to understand the relationship between sustainable growth and technology. The research will focus on the three pillars and the role technology can play in ensuring the growth sought today will not affect the future generations. Content analyses as a qualitative method will explore contextual materials with a key focus on technology as a tool for sustainability across the three pillars.

Environment

According to the United Nations, sustainability means meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Present-day growth relies on the utilisation of natural resources to drive various sectors of the economy. Therefore, achieving environmental sustainability involves striking a balance between ecological, economic, and social objectives through eco-friendly programs. These include cutting carbon emissions, supporting renewable energy, promoting sustainable transportation technologies, implementing green building technologies, and ensuring equitable sharing of resources.

The relationship between technology and environmental sustainability is encapsulated in green technology. Green technology is approached from two major perspectives. The first is to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases (carbonization), while the other is to adopt ecologically responsible resources. However, there exists a third concept that combines the two in terms of energy use and resource consumption.

The industrial revolution introduced new technologies that fueled economic growth at the expense of environmental protection. Increased urbanisation accelerated ozone layer depletion and the melting of ice caps. These environmental impacts played a crucial role in the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2016. The aim of the agreement is to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In support of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, many countries are adopting various approaches. For instance, Kenya, through its Kenya Energy Transition and Investment Plan 2023 – 2050 (ETIP), aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This proposed plan aligns with the strategies of other governments to ensure coordination and efficiency in its implementation. The plan provides a unified course of action for the renewable energy sector, incorporating a comprehensive strategy that considers the financial requirements for its execution. It lays the groundwork for establishing energy-related objectives that will be incorporated into the next National Blueprint.

Green Tour Kenya
Fig 2: (Green Tour Kenya)

African cities suffer from uncontrolled development, with many facing challenges such as insufficient water supplies, inadequate waste management, and poor urban transport infrastructure, among others. For example, the Kenyan capital Nairobi grapples with urban mobility issues, including significant time spent in traffic congestion. The World Bank asserts that inadequate infrastructure is the primary cause of Nairobi’s traffic congestion, which detrimentally affects the country’s economy. Reports indicate that Nairobi has one of the longest commute times to and from work, which has a widespread impact across various economic sectors. Moreover, persistent traffic congestion during rush hours contributes to air pollution and financial losses associated with fuel consumption.

Typical Nairobi Street highlighting congestion from vehicular and human traffic
Fig 3: (Typical Nairobi Street highlighting congestion from vehicular and human traffic)

The adoption of technological advancements in urban planning can indeed play a significant role in creating sustainable cities. For African cities specifically, the adoption of smart, green mass transport systems can greatly alleviate traffic congestion and reduce pollution. Additionally, integrating green building technologies from the design phase to construction can contribute to sustainability by reducing costs and minimising the use of toxic substances. To achieve sustainable growth, African countries must integrate emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), and big data into urban development initiatives. These technologies can be leveraged to optimise resource allocation, improve energy efficiency, and enhance overall urban infrastructure. By harnessing the power of these innovations, African cities can effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable urban development.

A proposed urban renewal project, Kencom Bus Station, Nairobi. Mimano et al.
Fig 4: (A proposed urban renewal project, Kencom Bus Station, Nairobi. Mimano et al.)

gash

Geoffrey Kamanu Njuru Biography Geoffrey Kamanu Njuru is an enterprising CEO and shareholder of Giwak Ventures Ltd, a company specializing in Information Technology (ICT), Civil Works, and Building Construction. Hailing from Kenya, Geoffrey's entrepreneurial journey commenced after obtaining his Bachelor's Degree in Information Communication Technology from the esteemed Technical University of Mombasa. As the CEO and a driving force behind Giwak Ventures Ltd, Geoffrey leverages his expertise in ICT to steer the company towards success. Alongside partners who bring invaluable experience in Civil Works and Building Construction, Geoffrey ensures that Giwak Ventures delivers comprehensive solutions to its clients. Geoffrey's leadership style is marked by a dedication to excellence and a hands-on approach to management. He oversees all aspects of the company's operations, ensuring that projects meet the highest standards and exceed client expectations. In addition to his role at Giwak Ventures, Geoffrey is passionate about fostering innovation and supporting aspiring entrepreneurs. He believes in creating opportunities for growth and collaboration within the business community. Outside of his professional endeavors, Geoffrey remains committed to staying abreast of technological advancements and expanding his knowledge in the field of ICT. Geoffrey Kamanu Njuru's entrepreneurial journey exemplifies his commitment to excellence and his vision for driving innovation in Kenya's business landscape. Through Giwak Ventures Ltd, he continues to lead the way in providing top-notch ICT solutions alongside partners with expertise in Civil Works and Building Construction, contributing to the growth and development of the company and its community.

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