Three Nigerian companies have emerged winners in the GE/USADF off Grid Energy Challenge. The winners are Trans Africa Gasand Electric PLC, GVE Projects Limited and Afe Babalola University. They will receive 100 thousand dollars (about N16m) each for their innovative solutions to Off-Grid Energy in respective communities. The winners were announced at a grand event held in Lagos. The GE USADF Off-grid Energy Challenge was launched in Kenya and Nigeria with plans to expand to other African countries over the next 3 years. About 2 million dollars will be won in all.
GVE Projects limited designed an 18 KW solar powered off grid electricity project that will generate electricity for not less than 140 homes through a mini-gird in the Egbeke community of Rivers state. For Trans Africa Gas and Electric PLC their project was a standalone cold storage facility embedded in 2 rural communities in Dandanrua Road and Tudun Wada both in Jos, north central Nigeria. The storage facility, with an 8kW solar nameplate generator, will allow farmers to cool and store their produce before bringing to market. The third winner, Afe Babalola University plans to generate 2.5 megawatts of electricity through a renewable hydro-electric power system that will serve over 10,000 members of the university community and beyond. To achieve this, the university plans to construct a dam in a community river.
One of the world’s leading technology and infrastructure companies, General Electric (GE) teamed up with the U.S Africa Development Foundation (USADF), to launch this competition earlier this year in order to drive more attention to the plight of African communities either underserved by the national grid or not connected at all. President and CEO, GE Africa, Jay Ireland said he was excited about the high caliber of entrants and the innovativeness in the solutions being presented to the Off Grid Energy Challenges in respective communities. He said this initiative has once again proven that with the right partnerships, Africans can develop home-grown solutions to the challenges they face.
The President of the United States Africa Development Foundation (USADF) Shari Berenbach said the judges carefully evaluated more than 150 applications to arrive at the eventual winners. She said judges particularly looked out for applications that demonstrated new business models to deliver sustainable energy to underserved marginal populations without degrading the environment. She disclosed that more than 50% of the applications involved some form of solar energy, while others were based on hydro, wind, bio-fuels among others. According to Shari companies whose products demonstrate creativity and innovative approaches to metering, payment, collections or transmission also received special attention.
The competition rides on the back of the Power Africa initiative announced by President Barack Obama during his recent visit to Africa. The Power Africa initiative seeks to drive growth in Africa by increasing access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable power and by helping to ensure responsible, transparent and effective management of energy resources on the continent.