Startups & Ideas

Jacob’s Ladder Africa Announces Winners of Renewable Energy Competition

Jacob’s Ladder Africa (JLA) on 28th March 2024, in partnership with the University of Nairobi, revealed the winners of the Renewable Energy Innovation Challenge. This competition encouraged Kenyan youth to come up with renewable energy solutions to tackle climate change issues and the problem of unequal energy access in Kenya.

The challenge was part of JLA’s greenLabs Incubation Program. It invited young people aged 20-25 from all over Kenya to spend a month researching and developing innovative ideas that could mitigate climate change effects and improve energy access. At the end of the challenge, during an event called Demo Day, 24 finalists showcased their projects to a panel of judges and an audience.

The top five presented their ideas in more detail, and then the best three were chosen as winners. The panel included experts from Microsoft East Africa, Mercy Corps, Bright Green Energy, Fedha Electrics, and Mercy Corps Ventures.

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The top three projects were:

  1. SunTrack, a system that helps people and businesses monitor their energy use to make better decisions about solar power.
  2. Umeme Sense, a smart technology that helps large buildings and industries cut down on energy waste by monitoring and controlling energy use in real-time.
  3. Mobilab, an initiative using solar-powered buses to deliver hands-on STEM education across Kenya, promoting clean energy and tackling educational inequality.

Another noteworthy project was HyPro Station, aiming to produce green hydrogen and targeting the large carbon offset market. It also intends to support various community needs, including jobs and water supply.

All 24 finalists, including the top three, are offered a chance to join the greenLabs Incubation Program for nine months. This program provides mentoring, training, and opportunities for cross-learning to help these young entrepreneurs develop their projects further.

Karen Chelang’at, Chief Innovation Officer at JLA, emphasized the organization’s goal to foster green solutions with the youth’s help. The Renewable Energy Innovation Challenge has successfully supported young inventors in addressing significant socio-economic issues in Kenya through green innovations.

The challenge was launched to encourage the creation of green startups that could eventually generate employment, in response to climate change’s various impacts on Kenyan communities, such as agricultural challenges and energy access disparities.

Professor Mary Kinoti of the University of Nairobi highlighted the university’s commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, welcoming the collaboration with JLA as an opportunity to address various challenges in Kenya.


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