Sunday, June 22, 2008

African Pioneers Receive Ashden Awards

Three African energy and anti-poverty pioneers have won this year's Ashden Awards, the world's leading green energy prize. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Patron of The Ashden Awards, personally congratulated the winners.

The winners are Gaia Association (Ethiopia), Kisingani Smith Group (Tanzania) and Fruits of the Nile (Uganda). They received a total of £60,000.

Wangari Maathai, Kenyan Nobel Prize laureate, praised the winners as "wonderful energy pioneers"as she gave the awards. She recognized them as "responding to the needs of their communities. They have decided to take action in the face of huge challenges, displaying not just patience and persistence, but a sense of urgency and determination. We salute these sustainability champions and the Ashden Awards, who help to make their work better known so that they can continue to inspire others."

Although Wangari Maathai's message was directed at African innovators and entrepreneurs, African governments are the key to energy and anti-poverty initiatives. It is hoped that the governments of Ethiopia, Tansania and Uganda will take note of these awards and be inspired to encourage other winning strategies, projects and technologies.

The Ashden Awards demonstrate that modest funding combined with good public relations can focus attention on energy solutions and bring funding to African pioneers.

Project Gaia Ethiopia received funding from The Shell Foundation, SIDA and Dometic AB. Other partners include, the Federal Government of Ethiopia, United NAtions Development Program as well as professional associations such as the Ethiopian Society of Chemical Engineers and local private businesses and non-profit groups. Project Gaia has focused on safe and appropriate alternatives to fossil fuels, especially ethanol.

The Kisangani Smith Group initiated the Black Smith Project in 1996 to provide both vocational training and employment to vulnerable young people while helping the local community to break the cycle of poverty by producing high-quality agricultural tools and irrigation equipment at affordable prices.

This enables local farmers to improve irrigation and use better farming techniques, increasing the size and yield of their harvest. In the past ten years, from 1996 to 2006, this project has trained 120 youths. Out of these, 110 are self-employed, 50 in groups of five and 60 individually. An example of the technological and vocational contributions of this program is the Kisa water pump built by the Black Smith Program in Njombe, which draws water using pistons attached to rope. The pump has the capacity to extract water 30 meters below ground.

Fruits of the Nile is the brain child of Adam Brett and his Ugandan friend Angello Ndyaguma. They designed simple solar driers for sun drying tropical fruits which were tested with innovative Ugandan farmers. This fair trade company was founded in Uganda, but now has expanded to other countries. Fruits of the Nile health bars and tropical snacks are sold in the UK. Company Directors are Adam Brett, Peter Fawcett, Richard Friend and Kate Sebag.

Source: The African Uptimist

No comments: