First Place: Matthew Wainwright, South Africa, 33
Innovation: Digital Energy Services
Matt is the CFO of Standard Microgrid, where he and the team are reimagining power with an innovative approach to distributed renewable energy services, based in Zambia, with offices in Johannesburg and Sacramento. It has pioneered a scalable model that combines value-based billing and community-centric operations to deliver modern renewable electricity. It transforms unelectrified communities with connected hyper-efficient smart grids that help grow local economies, improve education and healthcare. Standard Microgrid provides basic and productive use energy services to unelectrified communities in Africa. It currently operates two microgrids in Zambia, where it is focused on building up a 150 microgrid-based rural utility over the next four years. It has delivered projects in Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and the Maldives, and is looking to replicate its model with local developers in neighbouring markets in the near future. Standard Microgrid won the Accenture Award for Innovation, was runner up in the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, and has been named one of Africa’s Power Elites by ESI Africa. Matt studied Business Science, and qualified as a chartered accountant with Deloitte, where he consulted in both the US and South Africa.
THE FOUR RUNNERS-UP ARE:
Second Place: Tichaona Matte, Zimbabwe, 25
Innovation: Green Kidney Algae Biofuel & Wastewater Treatment System
Tichaona Matte is a former Chinhoyi University of Technology BSc (Hons) Biotechnology student, who hails from the mountainous Zimbabwean city of Mutare. He is very passionate about clean and sustainable energy development in Zimbabwe, and Africa as a whole. He strongly believes in its role as an effective vehicle for poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa. Since leaving college in 2015, he founded Green Energy Technologies (GET) Pvt Ltd. Most of his productive time has since been dedicated to developing cost-effective renewable energy systems, with the ‘Green Kidney’ system as one of GET’s proprietary products.
Third Place: Kisseih Amartei, Ghana, 25
Innovation: Recycled plastic waste in the build of portable multi-mount vertical axis wind turbines
Amartei graduated from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering. Living in Ghana, he is intimately aware, not only of global issues such as climate change, but also of local ones related to waste management and energy. In seeking to play a part in addressing these issues, his guiding principles have been sustainability and accessibility. He currently proposes the Kissvawt, a portable vertical axis wind turbine with ergonomic enhancements. The Kissvawt will be partly built of recycled plastics and is envisioned to aid operations both on land and at sea.
Finalist: John Magiro, Kenya, 25
Innovation: Provision of off-grid power to rural households
Born in a poor, single-parent family in Murang’a County, Kenya, John could not further his education after secondary school. Having been interested in electronics from an early age, and witnessing the strain that the dependency on fossil fuels brought to his people, he decided to bring light to his village. Even though he did not perform well in school he has amazed his community by using simple scrap materials, including old bicycle parts, to produce hydro-electric power. This led to the birth of Magiro Hydro Electricity Limited. At 25, he currently supplies 350 households with electricity. He has dreams of lighting his whole country, especially the rural off-grid households.
Finalist: Glory Nkiruka Esse, Nigeria, 34
Glory is a budding entrepreneur, the first child, and the only daughter of the family. She grew up watching her father’s exploits in business and decided to follow him into manufacturing. While traveling to a village, she discovered an increase in smoke-related deaths among women and children, in a community where more than 90% of households cook on open fires. She decided to tackle the problem by innovating a smokeless clean cook stove called the Powerstove. Glory attended several entrepreneurial courses from the African Management Institute and PanAtlantic University to ensure she builds a sustainable business empire.