50th CCT Celebration: Innovations in Climate Change


Jan 21st

At German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), 11 Al Saleh Ayoub Street, Zamalek

Over the past six years, the Cairo Climate Talks have brought together Egyptian and German
experts as well as an engaged audience to discuss climate, energy and environment related
topics of relevance for Egypt and the region. They have spread awareness, created links and
synergies and inspired people from different fields to integrate their efforts with regards to
climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

At the beginning of the celebration of the 50 the edition of the Cairo Climate Talks, the floor was
given to H.E. Julius Georg Luy, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the
Minister of Environment, H.E. Dr. Khaled Fahmy, to reveal the Cairo Climate Talks’ new logo.
"The Cairo Climate Talks have tackled a variety of relevant topics in the light of ongoing climate
change since they were first initiated in 2011, and we don’t seem to run out of important topics
anytime soon“, opened H.E. Julius Georg Luy, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany
to Egypt, the 50 th edition of the Cairo Climate Talks at the German Academic Exchange Service
(DAAD) on Sunday evening. He further elaborated that since climate change is and will remain
one of the most pressing challenges of our time, the Cairo Climate Talks will keep exploring new
topics, expanding their outreach and adapting new formats to fill the needs of society. H.E. then
highlighted the importance of fresh ideas to solve the climate crisis, acknowledging that “even
the biggest projects started off with small, yet brilliant, ideas.” Finally, he stressed the role of
young entrepreneurs in particular, stating that "as different as their ideas might be, all innovators
have one thing in common: they have chosen to take the challenges of climate change as
opportunities for themselves and the development of their communities."
"We are working on controlling our greenhouse gas emissions with a focus on the energy and
transportation sectors" announced H.E. Dr. Khaled Fahmy, Egyptian Minister of Environment, in
his opening speech. He further explained that "we have raised our renewable energy target to
45% by 2050 instead of 30%. We are also investing in adaptation to natural disasters like the
efforts done in Alexandria in 2017 to be prepared for floods." He then directed a message to the
audience that "a lot of experts have agreed that around 90% of the funding the world needs to
address climate change will come from the private sector". For that reason, he highlighted the
value of innovative startups by affirming that "we believe in the ability and creativity of our young
generation and we are offering to help."

Aya Ihab, a team member of Hikers; a startup that produces flour substitute or compliment from
mango kernels, started off the panel by explaining where their idea came from: "Egypt produces
197,000 tons of mangos annually and, at the same time, imports more than 60% of the wheat
for consumption. The idea was to find a link that utilizes that waste while addressing food
security." Aya then explained how the inside of the kernel is used for producing highly nutritious
mango flour that is 100% natural. According to her, the benefits of the mango flour compared to
wheat flour are that it is much cheaper that it can be locally produced, making baked goods
production and consumption healthier for both humans and the environment.
"90% of wood in Egypt is imported, which accounts to an equivalent of 2 Billion US Dollars, and
with Egypt's solvency crisis, we can all see that relying on imports is not a good solution",
argued Mohamed Kafafy, Co-founder and CEO of Agrona; a Business to Business innovating
company that works on making chipboards out of green based composites. Their plant
produces particle board from agricultural waste and sells it to wood manufacturers. Not only do

their products comply with the European Union standards of wood-based panels, they also have
a positive social impact: "We offer job opportunities to our suppliers from local farms; we are
planning to expand our network across Egypt. Agrona’s particle board can save up to 850 cubic
meters of carbon dioxide emissions per ton of residues.

"Aerospace changed a lot during the last two years. Since nano satellite installation became
possible, the price of installation became cheaper", discussed Michael Marszalek, a research
assistant at Technische Universität München and the founder of Orbital-Views. Orbital-Views is
a virtual application that utilizes the agricultural process by offering data on the soil, biomass
and moisture so that land owners would know what the land needs without having to waste any
resources. "Even if you are experienced with weather forecast, you cannot predict the exact
amount of water the plant needs, which is what Orbital-Views can help you with", elaborated
Michael. He then confirmed that the app is user-friendly and that they have computer scientists
working on making the human machine interface as clear as possible. "It is possible to save up
to 30% of irrigation water use through Orbital-Views solution without any additional installment",
he added.

Raphael Tarek Wagensonner, a masters student at Technische Hochschule Deggendorf and a
team member of Aquaba; a solar desalination project that uses solar distillation technology for
fresh water production, brought the impact of climate change on water resources to the table,
and how that would affect the water security of many nations. “To fight droughts, there are many
ways to desalinate sea water”, he stated. He then compared different desalination technologies
together: “The MSD (Multi Stage Distillation) requires 10 liters of natural oil to produce 1000
liters of water.” Since the whole world is de-fossilizing its energy dependence to reduce their
greenhouse gas emissions that will eventually impact droughts, and with MSD’s high energy
consumption, it makes it an unfavorable approach to get fresh water from Raphael’s point of
view. “As for RO (Reverse Osmosis), although it has a great potential, it works best with low salt
concentration”, he continued. “Our locally manufactured solar distillation technology works well
with high salt concentration and it does not require any energy which makes it the least pollutant
of all technologies”, he expressed.

Mahmoud Saied, Founder and CEO of Happiana; a startup that produces the smartest solar
power bank in the world – SunBank – as rated by Indiegogo, stated that “SunBank can charge
your phone wirelessly and in two hours using solar panels.” He added that SunBank has its own
mobile application that can update you when your phone’s battery is low, or when you forget
your power bank so you would not lose it. “We are the only local manufacturers of solar power
banks in Egypt and our prices are competitive. It is 50% higher in efficiency and 80% more cost
effective, which gives it a huge potential in the market”, he said.
After the speakers' presentations, the audience was given the chance to direct their questions to
the panelists. Audience members were curious about the productivity and efficiency of the
presented products and systems, which are all in different stages of development. The
innovators showed optimistic since their solutions have so far proven to be highly competitive
with their traditional counterparts. One audience member further asked Agrona and Hikers

about their need of a strong waste management system, and wondered about whether
business-to- business is going to be their way of supplying the waste. Both innovators confirmed
that they are planning to rely on business-to- business models. Dr. Khaled Fahmy asked for the
word and then proceeded to offer them the opportunity to work closely with the Ministry of
Environment, which could supply them with the necessary waste.

Meet our Panelists

Mahmoud Saied


Aya Ihab


Mohamed Kafafy


Michael Marszalek


Raphael Tarek Wagensonner


Meet our Moderators

Ms. Louise Sarant

Environmental Journalist

Venue / location

At German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), 11 Al Saleh Ayoub Street, Zamalek

Are you interested? Don’t miss out by registering to our events. We hope to see you there.