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Kenyan low carbon innovators scoop int’l climate awards

Clean energy innovators from three African countries are among winners of this year’s prestigious Ashden Awards which recognise the world’s most innovative initiatives implementing clean and accessible energy and natural climate solutions.

Four out of the six winners from the Global South are from African countries; two from Kenya, and the others from Togo, and Zimbabwe.

Between them they took away prizes for improving farmers’ access to clean energy, transforming refugees’ livelihoods, or training people for jobs linked to renewable energy technologies.

For the first time since it started in 2001, the Ashden Awards this year is being held in Nairobi, as well as London, ahead of COP27 which will have an Africa focus.

The ceremony, hosted by Kenyan human rights lawyer Cynthia Nyongesa on Thursday night, brought to life the stories and solutions of organisations creating the future and premiered powerful films showing the winners’ work.

Harriet Lamb, Ashden CEO, said: “Through our awards and at this, our first African ceremony, we are proud to celebrate and promote the ground-breaking climate solutions which will deliver a low-carbon future. Our winners and runners up show how the continent is a hotbed of innovation demonstrating the resilience and ingenuity of those most at risk from climate change”.

“They also show that clean energy has the potential to create jobs – 14 million in Africa by 2030 – and boost livelihoods. Green energy is a must. We will be showcasing their inspiring stories at the crucial COP27 climate talks in Egypt, where global leaders should sit up, take notice and provide adequate funding to scale up efforts to deliver a future in which no one is left behind,” Lamb explained.

Kenyan environmentalist Wanjira Mathai, Managing Director for Africa and Global Partnerships at World Resources Institute, was the keynote speaker at the event.

Other speakers included Jane Kimani, director of East Africa Operations at Angaza which won an Ashden Award in 2018; Amer Alkayed Steering Committee Member from Global Refugee Led Network, Julius Court, British Deputy High Commissioner, and Pamela Sittoni from the Nation Media Group.

With strong competition for awards in categories related to improving training and numbers of skilled workers in the renewable energy sector, winners were selected for delivering innovative and scalable climate solutions to the journey to zero carbon.

Winners were chosen from more than 200 applicants globally by judges, including clean energy sector specialists from around the world, indigenous community representatives, refugees involved in energy access and funders and will receive up to £25,000 to help scale up their vital work.

In Kenya, Kakuma Venture are bringing access to the internet to people in refugee camps using clean energy, creating jobs and boosting education whilst SokoFresh helps farmers reduce post-harvest losses through solar powered cold storage and market linkages.

For their work to improve energy access and develop skills, Togo’s Energy Generation and Zimbabwe’s Zonful Energy, were declared joint winners in their category. ASRI a forest-based project in Borneo, Indonesia, won the natural climate solutions award for supporting indigenous communities to reverse illegal logging with an ingenious chainsaw buy-back scheme

The Ashden Award for Energising Refugee Livelihoods, supported by The Linbury Trust, the Alan and Babette Sainsbury Charitable Fund, JAC Trust, Ashden Trust and a public appeal, the winners were Kakuma Ventures, Kenya – who are creating clean energy, internet connections and new jobs for refugee camp residents.

In the Ashden Award for Energising Agriculture, supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the winners were Soko Fresh, Kenya – a sustainable cold storage for smallholders, matched with help getting products to market.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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