BY BUSINESS REPORTER
A ZIMBABWEAN company promoting low-cost solar energy in off-grid rural communities, Zonful Vitality, was among eight African firms honoured during the Sustainable Energy for All Forum held in Kigali, Rwanda early last week.
The forum was part of the Humanitarian Energy Conference (HEC) 2022.
Zonful Energy is a for-profit social enterprise offering clear and inexpensive photo-voltaic options to off-grid distant rural communities, in addition to offering coaching for rural young entrepreneurs.
The company was among 11 organisations from across the world that showcased how clean energy could power-up entrepreneurship and inclusive development while tackling the climate crisis.
Zonful chief executive William Ponela said the recognition was a big step for the company.
“The award has put Zonful Energy and Zimbabwe on the world map and the interest investors have so far shown is amazing. We are expanding into all rural provinces and scale up our skills training programmes to empower more youth and women,” he said.
Organisations shortlisted for the awards were from Kenya, Togo, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Uganda.
“The initiatives range from solar-powered hubs where refugees can launch businesses in Uganda, to pay-per-use cold storage for small-holder farmers in Kenya, to training programmes helping women launch clean energy companies and careers in Togo.
Each of them is a thriving example of the innovation needed to spearhead rapid decarbonisation, meet national climate targets and create long-lasting, local employment opportunities. All the organisations identified are training new green workforces.
“The organisations chosen to go through to the final stages of the awards by international panels of low carbon experts, have demonstrated their performance in either energising agriculture, energy access in humanitarian environments, or energy access skills,” the organisers of the event said.
Ashden’s analysis of 148 international award applicants reveals effective public-private collaboration; community ownership and involvement; and enabling access to markets and finance, as hallmarks of pioneering work.
Ashden CEO of the awards said: “Supercharging economies and raising people’s incomes are just two of the many reasons for investing in energy access. “But with 940 million people worldwide and around 570 million people in Africa living without electricity, it is clear support for frontline innovators is falling short”.
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