Four organisations in Africa among those shortlisted for global Ashden Award

Written By: Beth Nyaga

Four organisations in Africa among those shortlisted for global Ashden Award

Twenty organisations with outstanding contributions in two distinct categories – ‘liveable cities’ and ‘sustainable energy for inclusive development’ – have reached the coveted shortlist for this year’s 2019 Ashden Awards.

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Among the finalists are 4 organisations working in countries in Africa, including Sistema Bio in Kenya, KopaGas based in Tanzania, We Care Solar who are working all over Africa, and Baobab+ in Senegal, Mali, Madagascar and Cote d’Ivoire.

The highly prestigious awards, now in their 19th year, are a globally recognised mark of excellence in the sustainable energy sector.

The judges this year assessed entries in two themed categories. The first, liveable cities, sought sustainable mobility solutions that reduce congestion and pollution, innovations in the design and construction of energy efficient buildings and groundbreaking energy ideas focused on retrofit, design and construction.

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The second theme recognises the vital role that sustainable energy plays in inclusive development, including the Ashden Award for Clean Cooking, in association with the Clean Cooking Alliance, the Award for Sustainable Energy and Healthcare, and Award for Cooling for People, in association with K-CEP and Sustainable Energy for All.

“When organisations get involved in the Ashden Awards, they are seeking entry to a very special network in which every participant is notable for the transformative impact they are making in the field of sustainable energy,” Sarah Butler-Sloss, Ashden’s Founder Director commented.

“2019 is no exception, and as always, we are delighted and excited by the organisations on our shortlist. With so much attention being paid to climate change currently, the spotlight is on innovation and technology that can make a difference right now and every one of our finalists has been proven to deliver this,” she said.

The shortlisted organisations for the 2019 International Ashden Awards are:

Clean Air

SMV Green

Rickshaw drivers in India work long hours for poor pay and low job security in cities where air pollution is many times higher than WHO guidelines. SMV Green is creating fair working conditions, with electric rickshaws and reliable contracts – empowering drivers to buy their vehicles and earn more money, at the same time as reducing the air pollution that kills thousands every year. Their radical Vahini programme is training India’s first women rickshaw drivers, creating secure incomes for them and improving safety and security for their female passengers.


Bogota has big ambitions to become the world cycling capital, and it’s easy to see that they are on track to achieve that. In recent years they have installed hundreds of miles of cycle lanes, closed the city to cars every Sunday on Ciclo Via, and seen a real impact on the air quality. The city is integrating cycling culture into education, workplaces, and healthcare with impressive inter-departmental communication from the town hall. A real cycling revolution is happening in a South American city that was built for the car.

Powering Business

Resham Sutra

In India wild silk has long prized as a premium product, with skilled women reeling silk from cocoons to be woven into beautiful fabrics. But behind the luxury there has been suffering – the traditional process of producing thread, thigh-reeling is a physically demanding and undignified process with women working long hours to produce enough silk to make a living. Resham Sutra has developed a range of affordable electric reeling machines that vastly improve working conditions and create a predictable, dramatically increased income for silk workers.

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Promethean Power

Every day India’s farmers produce 400 million litres of milk and often spend hours travelling to markets to sell it with no guarantee of buyers. As it is unrefrigerated the milk is at risk of spoiling and quality is compromised. Promethean has developed a rapid chiller powered by a thermal battery that can be installed in village-based cooperatives increasing incomes for dairy farmers and ensuring a high-quality product for dairies.

Clean Cooking

Sistema Bio

Small farmers the world over grow the majority of the food that we eat, whether that be plants or animals, and are at the forefront of climate change. Sistema has created an innovative, affordable biogas generator that gets rid of animal waste, turning it into the cleanest of cooking fuels, and producing a planet-friendly, super fertilizer. This means that farmers no longer have to cook on expensive and polluting wood fuel or LPG, reducing deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions and increasing income potential.


There is no silver bullet in terms of clean cooking technologies but Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) can play an important role in moving people from polluting biomass stoves to a cleaner fuel. Removing wood and charcoal from kitchens dramatically improves the health of women and children otherwise exposed to indoor air pollution. With its PAYG meters KopaGas has created an innovative financial model that makes LPG affordable to those on the lowest incomes, especially in city areas and reduces pressure on forests in the surrounding areas.

Cooling for People


Medellin has gone from being the world’s most dangerous city, to one that is bringing people together to use nature and urban greenery for good. The Green Corridors project provides shading for cyclists and pedestrians in what can be a very warm city, cooling built up areas and cleaning the air along busy roads. The Botanical Gardens provide training to those from disadvantaged backgrounds to become city gardeners and planting technicians. Through the power of plants, residents become communities, and city air is cooler and cleaner.

Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises (LUSH)

Residents of Singapore live with extreme heat and humidity, along with rapid development of infrastructure and buildings that increase the urban heat island effect. LUSH is a policy that replaces green spaces lost to development by creating green walls and vertical gardens on new buildings, creating a cooler environment for residents and a place for insects and birds to claim as their own.

Energy and Healthcare

Karuna Trust

Reliable energy transforms healthcare, creating better services that reach more people. India’s Karuna Trust has given staff and patients the power to deliver 21st century healthcare using affordable, sustainable energy – with amazing results. The trust’s unique approach creates systemic change rooted in the needs of local communities. And it’s the most marginalised people who benefit most – no longer having to travel long distances for specialist care, or risk power cuts mid-treatment.

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We Care Solar

99% of all maternal deaths happen in the world’s poorest countries. We Care Solar is tackling this health crisis, by enabling safer births in remote communities with no reliable energy supply. The organisation’s ‘solar suitcases’ give clinics reliable lighting, vital equipment and contact with the outside world via mobile phone charging. The life-saving kits have been used in almost 4,000 health centres around the world.

Sustainable Buildings

Habitat for Humanity

Armenia’s crumbling apartment blocks expose residents to brutal weather and high heating bills, which can leave them trapped in poverty. Habitat for Humanity helps people come together to improve their homes, making them more efficient, and crucially, warmer. Residents are involved at every stage, and help finance the work by paying into a community fund. Habitat also helps raise awareness of energy efficiency in schools, and gives local authorities the skills to run future projects themselves.


China is experiencing rapid urbanization, with huge new buildings being built all the time to meet demand for houses and offices. EQuota Energy provides building owners and landlords with the world’s leading smart energy management solutions. By using AI and big data-driven technology, it enables buildings to become more energy efficient, save on energy bills and reduce pollution in cities – all without any intrusive equipment or installation work.

Financial Innovation


Baobob+ brings solar power into people’s homes in Senegal, Mali, Madagascar and Cote d’Ivoire. Customers get access to torches and lights, phone and tablet charging and more. Pay-as-you-go technology helps even very poor families take part. Buying through Baobab+ allows many customers to build a credit history for the first time, putting life-changing loans within reach.

Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia has brought clean energy to hundreds of thousands of people who need it most – essential if we are going to have a just transition to the zero-carbon economy we need to achieve. In a country where more than 70% have no access to modern energy, many families can now buy lights and mobile phones for the very first time. The innovative fund works by awarding contracts to renewable energy companies – their performance is closely watched, and they only get paid once the work is done. Crucially, the scheme makes sure rural customers aren’t charged more than people elsewhere.

UK Sustainable Buildings

NEF and Energiesprong

Retrofitting buildings is one the best ways we can reduce carbon emissions quickly in the UK, action that is drastically required, as evidenced by the latest report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). Energiesprong – ‘energy leap’ in Dutch – is an innovative solution to improving poorly insulated buildings, making homes in the UK more efficient and more comfortable. Completed quickly and with minimum disruption to tenants, the insulation has the potential to radically cut carbon from the UK’s housing stock and comes with a 30 year guarantee – all whilst giving homes a modern makeover too.

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Retrofit Works

Improved energy efficiency is just one of the benefits of RetrofitWorks – a co-operative that acts for clients in procuring retrofit works from a framework of its member organisations. Retrofit Works streamlines the retrofit process, building trust for households and clients, enabling SMEs to get involved in large-scale programmes of work in their local area, and helping to ensure that people can live in warm, comfortable, safe homes.

Clean Air in UK Towns and Cities

Waltham Forest

The London borough of Waltham Forest has taken bold steps to clean up its air and get people moving, with its multi-million pound ‘Enjoy Waltham Forest’ scheme. Road redesigns, bike training, extra cycle storage and schools’ workshops have made the borough a safer, better place to walk and cycle. The result is improved health and a nicer environment for residents. By acting on feedback from local people, the ambitious project overcame a rocky start and now attracts interest from around the world.


Zedify’s green deliveries use trikes, bikes and electronic vans, taking traditional, polluting vans and trucks off our crowded city streets, helping to clean up the air, reduce congestion and make our cities healthier places to be. Zedify works with small businesses and local authorities – and provides an urban delivery service for e-commerce companies and national logistics firms. Driven by a flexible franchise model, Zedify has already spready to cities around the UK – from Southampton to Edinburgh.

UK Energy Innovation

Highview Power

Without innovation in storage for renewables we won’t reach the ambitious carbon reduction targets outlined in the CCC report and highlighted by the declaration of a Climate Emergency by UK parliament. Highview Power’s ground-breaking technology captures excess solar and wind energy for use in the national grid – speeding the global switch to renewables. Highview’s Cryo batteries store energy using liquid air and are made more efficient by clever use of the waste cold and heat created during the process. Cryobatteries are relatively cheap, long-lasting and easy to make and install.

Guru Systems

In order to reach the ambitious targets set by the CCC, the UK has to make heating buildings efficiently a priority. When blocks of flats share a single heating system, a single problem can create chaos in hundreds of homes – wasting energy and driving up bills. Guru Systems’ unique software harvests detailed information from across a heating network, dramatically improving efficiency. This data helps engineers pinpoint issues and quickly solve them, and fuels machine learning that does even more to boost performance. The data is also fed into terminals in residents’ homes – which gives people more control over their energy use.

The shortlisted organisations are now undergoing a rigorous judging process involving a panel of industry experts and technical assessments. The overall winners will be presented with their Awards at a prestigious ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Wednesday 3 July.


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