Green energy project awards

The winners of the Micro-Grid Academy (MGA) Young Talent of the Year 2021 Award were announced yesterday, highlighting the work of young African innovators and their green energy projects.

Cold storage to prevent post-harvest losses, a start-up for the design and production of the light electric tricycles and a 100% solar-powered food vending cart: these are the three innovative green energy projects that won the Micro-Grid Academy (MGA) Young Talent of the Year 2021 Award. The initiative, jointly promoted by RES4Africa Foundation, Enel Green Power and the European Investment Bank announced its winners yesterday during the African youth-led Summit: Climate Change and Renewable Energy, organised in the framework of the PreCOP26.

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The winners were selected from a group of 50 applicants from Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia. The three young winners are Adekoyejo Ifeoluwapo Kuye, 26 years old from Nigeria; Alex Makalliwa, 31 years old from Kenya; and Benson Kibiti, 24 years old from Kenya. The three projects have been awarded a prize of 5,000 euros each to support their development.

Adekoyejo Ifeoluwapo Kuye’s project aims at providing sub-Saharan Africa farmers with reliable and sustainable cold storage to eliminate post-harvest losses in the fruit and vegetable supply chains. The youth-driven organisation, Manamuz Electric, based in Enugu, is working to build a distributed cold chain logistics infrastructure powered by solar energy and create a digital platform to shorten the supply chain that can easily be accessed in the Global High-Value Markets.

With a Nairobi-based start-up, Alex Makaliwa envisions using access to affordable sustainable mobility and electricity as a catalyst for economic growth in rural off-grid communities. His winning project aims at strengthening the design and production of the light electric tricycles’ (Try.kes) on-board Data Management System. The electric tricycles are equipped with a PV module. Having a battery capacity of 1.6kWh, it can carry a 250kg payload and reach a 50-60km range at a maximum speed of 25kmph in a single charge.

The third project was designed by Benson Kibiti. In the absence of access to clean sources of cooking and lighting, Nairobi’s 100,000+ street food vendors rely predominantly on charcoal, leading to significant damage to health and the environment.

The winner, with the African start-up Zuhura Solutions, built and tested a new 100% solar-powered food vending cart, the Halisi Trolley, which aimed at revolutionising the street food sector in Kenya by providing reliable, clean and sustainable energy. The stored energy is converted into heat energy, autonomously heating the food and maintaining the temperature while generating surplus energy to charge phones and power LED lights.

Through the Micro-Grid Academy, the RES4Africa Foundation aims to play its part in the achievement of access to energy by ensuring quality training opportunities for Africa’s young generations. The Award, now in its second edition, was launched in order for forward-thinking participants to scale up their projects and activities. Sharing a common vision, RES4Africa, Enel Green Power and the European Investment Bank put together their efforts to support those young people from all African countries who are committed and motivated to create a real change in their communities.