Trade Finance TV: How tech delivers ESG solutions in Africa

At the COP26 summit in Glasgow held in November 2021, there was a consensus that it was time to finish with the talk and get on with “walking the walk” of sustainability transition.

This is already underway to some extent in West Africa, where GPS data is being used to check that commodities producers are not engaging in deforestation or deploying child labour.

Joining us in the Trade Finance TV studio is Africa and commodities specialist Dr Tedd George, Founder and Chief Narrative Officer of Kleos Advisory. He was formerly Head of Research at Ecobank, the pan-African bank and a Senior Economist at the former Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) – now Economist Impact.

In West Africa, George explains, technology is being used to analyse data and check that commodities have been produced in line with ESG principles. Examples include cocoa and coffee farms, but the technique is also being applied to minerals such as diamonds and cobalt. 

Press play to hear more


  • Dr Tedd George,  Founder and Chief Narrative Officer of Kleos Advisory Ltd


  • Clarissa Dann, Editorial Director, Trade Finance TV

Transcript of interview:

Clarissa Dann: After COP26, there was lots of talk about stopping, talking and getting on with walking the walk. In the studio today, we’ve got Dr Tedd George, who is keen to explain to us a bit more about how technology can deliver ESG solutions on the ground and how this is actually being played out in West Africa. Tedd, tell us more.

Dr Tedd George: Well, I think the important thing about ESG is it’s all about compliance nowadays. You have to show that you are not damaging the environment and protecting biodiversity. You have to be looking after the people in your value chain. You have to have sound government anti-corruption. But how do you do that? I mean, if you think about the amount of alerts you can get for money laundering or for let’s say there’s been a fire where they shouldn’t be, if you’re an agricultural company, a big company like Olam could have 50,000 of those a year. So you need technology to try and make sense of it all. We always had the data beforehand, but now if you can crunch it using the technology, you can actually see what’s going on and you can actually deliver on your ESG commitments.

Clarissa Dann: So who’s actually doing this?

Dr Tedd George: Well, for example, I mean, if you look, let’s say in the cocoa value chain, one of the things to do with environmental, you want to know that they’re not damaging the forest. So what you can do is you can take a piece of the farmers farm. You can also link them to their cocoa. Whenever they deliver their cocoa, they do some paid recognition. It’s all in the system. You have satellite data, you have LIDAR data, you put it all together using a big crunching of machine learning, and you get a visualization and you can say this farmer has gone into protected land or this farmer is producing unusually high volumes of beans. He’s probably mixing from someone else, these other people are non-certified.

Or let’s say social. You might have a company that says we have a strict policy that says you cannot have child labor. But do they? But if you know all the children who are on the different farms and, you know, the nearest school is 20 miles away, you know, they’re not going to school. So there are so many things you can do with the tech which actually on the ground lets you say, yes, we’ve delivered on our ESG requirements, not I’ve got a certificate, but honestly, I’ve no idea where it came from.

Clarissa Dann: Where do you see this in operation?

Dr Tedd George: Particularly West Africa, soft commodity value chain, particularly cocoa and coffee. But also, I mean, we’ve seen it amazing what you can do, for example, with mining as well, because if you think of things like conflict minerals, you can trace them very specifically to the individual diamonds or the individual lot of cobalt or something like coltan. And so that’s really important because you can say this came from a mine where they had the right standards. This wasn’t smuggled in from the DRC.

Clarissa Dann: Tedd, thank you very much for coming on Trade Finance TV.

Dr Tedd George: My pleasure.

Clarissa Dann: I’m Clarissa Dann, your presenter of Trade Finance TV. Thank you for watching.

Published on December 15, 2021

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