The Micro-Grid Academy (MGA) 2021 Young Talent of the Year Award recognizes three solar energy innovations in Africa. The initiative is supported by the Renewable Energy Solutions for Africa (RES4Africa) Foundation, with funding from Enel Green Power and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The results of the 2021 Micro-Grid Academy Youth Talent of the Year Award were announced at the African youth-led Summit: Climate Change and Renewable Energy, an event organized in preparation for the 2021 Glasgow Climate Change Conference (COP26), which takes place in Scotland from October 31st, to November 12th, 2021. The 2021 MGA Award recognizes three young innovators from Nigeria and Kenya. These project leaders were selected from among 50 entries from Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia.
In Kenya, the MGA 2021 award goes to Alex Makaliwa. The 31-year-old from Nairobi founded a start-up company that produces lightweight electric tricycles called “Try.kes”. These unusual vehicles are equipped with photovoltaic modules and an onboard data management system. Equipped with a 1.6 kWh battery, this tricycle can carry a payload of 250 kg, with a range of 50 to 60 km at a maximum speed of 25 km/h, on a single charge. These solar tricycles are suitable for transport in rural areas.
A solution to post-harvest losses
Benson Kibiti is also among the winners of the 2021 MGA award. The 24-year-old Kenyan has developed a food cart that is powered entirely by solar energy. The stored energy is converted into thermal energy, autonomously heating the food and maintaining the temperature while generating surplus energy to charge phones and power LED lights. This solution, developed by the start-up Zuhura Solutions, replaces systems that run on highly polluting charcoal. The Kenyan government estimates that there are 100,000 street food vendors in Nairobi.
The other innovation comes from Nigeria. It is proposed by Adekoyejo Ifeoluwapo Kuye. The 26-year-old’s project aims to provide farmers in sub-Saharan Africa with cold storage facilities to reduce post-harvest losses in fruit and vegetable supply chains. This solution is being implemented through Manamuz Electric, a youth-led company based in Enugu in southeastern Nigeria. The startup is working to build a distributed cold chain logistics infrastructure, powered by solar energy. Manamuz Electric also wants to build a digital platform to shorten the supply chain that can be easily accessed in global markets.
The three projects were awarded a prize of 5,000 euros each to support their development. The 2021 MGA award is supported by renewable energy provider Enel Green Power and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The Micro-Grid Academy was established by the Renewable Energy Solutions for Africa (RES4Africa) Foundation to create a skilled workforce to deploy decentralized renewable energy solutions in and beyond the East African region, improving energy access in rural communities while promoting local businesses and job creation. The prize money from the initiative allows particularly forward-thinking participants to expand their projects and activities.
Jean Marie Takouleu