green economy

Investors looking for opportunities in the green economy want more than a sop to the conscience – actionable research delving into real investment opportunities in green technology solutions are attractive for the range of options that can not only deliver a return but contribute to actual job creation and larger societal goals.

A recent webinar launch of GreenCape’s Market Intelligence Report 2020 saw sector experts delve into not only the current investment trends but also how the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown could affect their research findings.

Claire Pengelly, Water and Sustainable Agriculture Programme Manager at GreenCape, said the impact on investment opportunities in water and sanitation projects could be significant and investment into infrastructure in the agri-processing sector and municipal projects might be delayed.

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Currently, there are several emergency water and sanitation provisions being rolled out to un-serviced or under-serviced informal communities in South Africa which are hotspots for the spread of COVID-19. The increased provision of water services is meant to improve health outcomes in these communities.

“But the current way in which those emergency provisions are being outlaid are being done in quite a temporary manner, which is expensive. I think what will start happening is there will be a reevaluation of the kinds of technologies that could be deployed in those communities that will be much more sustainable and affordable for the municipalities and authorities that are doing them. So things like non-sewage sanitation for informal settlements and schools, I would expect to see quite an uptick in investment, in particular for those communities that don’t have access to nearby sewage infrastructure, noted Pengelly.

Investment opportunities on a larger scale

Pengelly continued: “With regards to agricultural opportunities, I think the system has been more resilient than we were expecting but the crises has really heightened some of the concerns and risks around food security, particularly in the urban context. I think there’s going to be increased revision of localisation of food systems, looking for shorter supply opportunities.”

Pengelly is of the view that opportunities for intensive urban agricultural production will become more enhanced in the future. In terms of the effect of COVID-19 on the economy overall, she doesn’t expect the larger investment opportunities highlighted in the MIR to be affected, but they are seeing that the agriculture sector was taking a significant hit.

“A survey conducted towards the end of April noted that 12% of local agriculture, forestry and fishery firms had already closed permanently. Therefore, I think that we will see a downturn in that sector. We do think. however, there are opportunities for ICT that have highlighted the impact of traceability in food safety that could really come about in the future, in ICT apps that could be promoted to help in the roll-out of that,” said Pengelly.

Two polls run during the webinar specifically concentrated on how the audience felt the current lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic was affecting investments. In answer to how the pandemic would affect investments in the green economy in the long run, most people felt it would firstly encourage investment into innovation and supply chains and secondly give countries a chance to catch up to their environmental commitments. When asking the audience what would make South Africa’s post-COVID-19 recovery a green one, the overwhelming response was policy reform.

Access the full recording of the webinar launch here.

Sector development agency GreenCape specialises in understanding and unlocking opportunities in the green economy. Their annual Market Intelligence Reports (MIR) reveal a range of opportunities currently emerging in the South African Greentech sector.