The Ghana News Agency (GNA) announced that three Ghanaian firms have collectively been awarded $300 000, as winners of the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge, part of President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative.

The challenge was sponsored by General Electric (GE), the United States Africa Development Foundation (USADF), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Local media reported that the winners, Solar Light Company Limited, Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture (KITA) and New Energy, designed innovative energy solutions to help resolve the power crisis and socio-economic inequalities in remote Ghanaian communities.

The challenge received a total 300 entries from various African regions where an additional 19 designs were selected from Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Kenya and Nigeria had combined 6 winners who received $100 000 each to drive their renewable projects at the start of this 3 year initiative in 2013.

Gene Cretz, US Ambassador to Ghana, addressed the audience at the event praising the three sponsors for their enthusiasm in driving rural electrification:

‘Off-Grid Challenge, like Power Africa, represents the best of what partnerships can accomplish, when we set our focus on a common goal’ – Cretz

The Ghanaian Winners

The Solar Light Company Ltd supports local entrepreneurship by providing better working conditions for Ghanaian street vendors. They are developing a portable solar system, the ‘Sunana’, which will provide on hand power for lighting and to charge mobile devices.

KITA is a non-governmental organisation acting as a research, technology and education institution serving the farming, agriculture, environmental resources management and agribusiness sectors. Their design will utilise wasted palm nuts, which will power a 20 kilowatt biomass gasifier by transforming the nut into oil. The Ohwimase community in the Ashanti region will be the beneficiaries of this project.

The remote town of Nabogo in the north will have access to clean water through New Energy’s solar-powered water pumping, filtration and purification system. Agricultural land will be able to benefit from their drip irrigation system design and each system will be managed locally by water experts

A word from the Sponsors

Manager of USAID-Ghana’s Energy Programme, Robert Buzzard, revealed the $700 000 contribution made to the initiative.

‘Much of the USAID’s technical and financial support to the energy and power sectors in Ghana works on big-picture upstream links in the chain of energy power’

A very proud Leslie Nelson, GE Ghana Chief Executive Officer, commended the achievements of the Ghanaian companies who have strived to equip their communities with reliable power solutions to improve their overall living and working conditions.

‘This further validates our belief at GE that the indigenous people on the ground have valuable insights on what works best for Africa, and innovative solutions to meet the power needs of the continent’

Christoph J. M. Anagbonu from the USADF said, ‘USADF is pleased to be supporting economic growth at the grassroots level, by addressing the energy poverty that many communities face.’

GNA said the final round of the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge would commence in 2015.

Source: The Ghana News Agency (GNA)

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