Kenyan students win prize for innovation to tackle climate change

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The Challenge began in September 2019 with students submitting their projects in April 2020 and presenting their projects to a panel of expert judges on 17 and 19 June.

Students from Strathmore University beat teams from around the world to win bronze in the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge.

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Delivered by Efficiency for Access, with the support of Engineers Without Borders UK, the Challenge is a global, multi-disciplinary competition that empowers teams of university students to help accelerate clean energy access.?It is supported by UK aid and the IKEA Foundation.

The Efficiency for Access Design Challenge invited teams of university students to design affordable and energy-efficient appliances and technologies for low to middle income countries. By bringing together and inspiring university students in this way, the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge’s goal was to foster innovation in the off-grid appliances sector.

The competition also sought to address barriers limiting market expansion in this area.

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Value addition efforts for smallholder farmers and SMEs in rural areas in Kenya can help improve the livelihoods of local communities. However, these interventions require quality access to energy, which is lacking in existing energy solutions. For productive uses, petrol/diesel generators are mostly used, which are polluting and very expensive to maintain.

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To address this situation, Raymond Kiyegga, Fredrick Amariati, Alex Osunga of the Strathmore University team has proposed Kijiji, a solar-powered container that supports value addition for rural smallholder farmers and SMEs by providing reliable solar powered energy.

The system size ranges from 15kW to 50Kw, with a battery storage ranging from 4000 – 8000AH, able to power agricultural, SMEs and health applications. The system range also provides room for expansion based on changes in rural market needs.

By leveraging solar power, Kijiji helps provide clean energy access, which can be used in a variety of settings. As a result, it can help power a range of economic activities and give users time needed to engage in additional entrepreneurial activities. Through different preservation options, farmers can enhance their income by reducing or eliminating post-harvest losses and increasing production yields.

British High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriott said:“It is great to see bright Kenyan minds coming up with creative ways to tackle climate change and support clean energy. I’m delighted the UK has been able to supportRaymond Kiyegga, Fredrick Amariati and Alex Osunga. Hongera!

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“Ahead of hosting the next round of UN climate talks in 2021, the UK is already providing over kes 14.5 billion worth of support on climate in Kenya, leveraging our expertise in climate legislation, green finance, and clean energy – underpinned by world-leading climate science, technology and innovation.”

International Environment Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said: “Climate change is one of the biggest global threats we face, so it’s fantastic to see students from Kenya helping us to achieve a greener future by finding innovative solutions to improve access to clean energy. This not only protects the environment, but also people’s health.

“UK aid has already given 26 million people in the world’s poorest countries improved access to clean energy and we will continue to drive through such global change, including as hosts of COP26 next year.”

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The Challenge began in September 2019 with students submitting their projects in April 2020 and presenting their projects to a panel of expert judges on 17 and 19 June.

Participating universities were Durham University, Independent University of Bangladesh, Loughborough University, Makerere University, Strathmore University, Swansea University, University College London, University of Bath and the?University of Strathclyde.

Jeffrey Prins, Head of Portfolio – Renewable Energy, IKEA Foundation, said: “The IKEA Foundation is thrilled to celebrate the outstanding work of the winning teams in the inaugural year of the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge. If we are serious about delivering renewable energy access for all by 2030, we need innovative ideas from creative people today. The Strathmore University team has done just that.”

The Grand Final event provided a platform for the winning teams to showcase their submissions to over 150 leading academia, students and companies in the off-grid sector. In the coming months, Efficiency for Access will promote students’ projects across its digital and social media channels.

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