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Generative AI, sustainable finance: Empowering opportunity?

The emergence of generative artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionised outcomes, offering unprecedented opportunities for innovation, efficiency, and cost-effective scalability. 

Ghana’s challenged financial sector, burgeoning hospitality industry, expanding healthcare facilities and emerging manufacturing sector are thrust into a position to embrace the potential of generative AI.

The AI uprising is happening at the height of the climate crisis.

How should corporate Ghana respond to the nexus of generative AI and sustainable finance principles for delivering sustainable development outcomes?

Hospitality industries

Future Markets Insights (FMI) estimates the sustainable tourism market size would surpass US$1.0 trillion in 2022.

Between 2022 and 2032, the market is expected to exhibit a compound annual growth rate of 23.4 per cent.

Sustainable tourism considers the needs of travellers but also the needs of host communities, local businesses and the impact of tourist activities on the immediate natural environment.

The algorithms embedded in AI can help hotels and resorts manage energy consumption, water usage and waste management systems, reducing environmental footprints and operating costs. In addition, hotels can track the sustainability efforts of guests to identify those whose stay has the most negligible impact on the environment.

One approach is to provide guests with a survey upon check-in or during their stay that assesses their sustainability practices.

Questions can range from using towels and bed linens recycling practices, and energy conservation.

These surveys can be used to identify guests who are already adopting sustainable practices and those who may require additional guidance.

They can also incentivise sustainable practices by rewarding guests with minimal environmental impact during their stay.

For instance, guests who reuse towels and bed linens within reasonable health and safety conditions can earn loyalty points redeemed for discounts on future visits or hotel services.

Those who take the stairs (tracked by guests’ AI-enabled access cards) instead of the elevator or use the hotel’s public transportation can also earn rewards, encouraging them to continue their sustainable practices.

By integrating generative AI into their operations, Ghana’s hospitality industry can lead the way in sustainable tourism practices, attracting environmentally conscious travellers and a significant portion of the estimated US$1 trillion market size sustainable financial earnings for expanding their operations.

Financial institutions

Sustainable finance aims to promote economic growth while minimising negative environmental and societal impacts.

Generative AI, a technology capable of producing unique and creative outputs, can play a crucial role in this pursuit.

Leveraging generative AI capabilities to analyse vast amounts of banking data guides the monitoring of a bank’s assets in driving performance outcomes.

By incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into the decision-making processes, financial institutions can promote sustainable lending practices that foster the growth of renewable energy projects, green infrastructure and socially responsible businesses.

Additionally, generative AI can enhance fraud detection capabilities by identifying potential risks and protecting customers’ financial assets.

By integrating sustainability principles into core operations, financial institutions can contribute to Ghana’s sustainable development goals while driving economic growth.

Manufacturing companies

Ghana’s manufacturing sector is vital to the country’s economic growth.

Generative AI broadly empowers manufacturing companies by optimising production processes, reducing waste, and enhancing supply chain management.

By adopting generative AI-powered sustainable supply chain practices, companies can measure the environmental and human impact of their product’s journey through the supply chain, from raw materials sourcing to production, storage, delivery and every transportation link.

Manufacturing companies can qualify for sustainability-linked supply chain finance (SCF) programmes.

These funding mechanisms apply a pricing benefit to suppliers who meet predefined sustainability criteria, which backs the idea of turning supply chain finance into a tool to finance and help buyers incentivise this much-needed supplier transition.

By integrating generative AI into their operations, manufacturing companies in Ghana can bolster their competitive and comparative advantage while reducing their environmental impact.

Conclusion

Generative AI tools present an exciting opportunity for corporate Ghana to embrace sustainability and drive economic growth simultaneously.

By leveraging AI technologies, different sectors of the economy can optimise operations, reduce resource consumption, and make informed decisions that align with environmental and social considerations.

As Ghana positions itself for a sustainable future, integrating generative AI becomes a powerful tool to achieve economic prosperity and environmental stewardship.

The writer is a sustainable finance enthusiast with more than 15 years of relevant capital market experience.

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