And the Ashden Awards 2011 go to …

The Ashden Awards bring to light inspiring sustainable energy solutions in the UK and developing world and help ensure that they are spread more widely. From an entrepreneur rolling out solar power across rural India to a school adopting clean energy and green learning in England, our winners are passionate about bringing change to their communities and the planet. [read more]

This year out of 8 laureates, 5 African companies receive the prestigious prize:

Toyola Energy Ltd. – Ghana

Money box credit scheme brings stoves to all

Efficient stoves are not new but Toyola has developed an innovative business model which has succeeded in selling 154,000 efficient and affordable charcoal stoves to low-income families, 75 per cent of whom buy the stoves on credit and use savings on charcoal to pay cash back. The stoves save about 26,000 tonnes of charcoal a year, and around 150,000 tonnes a year of CO2. Toyola plans to open more centres in Benin, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in the next two years, stepping up sales to a further 140,000 stoves by 2013.

ToughStuff International – UK and Africa

Affordable, flexible, durable solar systems

Making solar affordable is key if the technology is to reach the millions who would benefit from it. ToughStuff is manufacturing and marketing a range of low-cost and robust solar products to off-grid communities across Africa, bringing the benefits of light, mobile phone charging and radio to poor households. So far 140,000 PV modules have been sold, benefitting around 740,000 people. The company also works with humanitarian relief agencies to bring solar lighting to people living in disaster zones in Haiti and Pakistan. ToughStuff aims to reach 33 million people by 2015 through its regional offices in Nairobi, Lagos and Johannesburg.

International runners-up

AJDR Cooperative – Rwanda

Efficient stoves provide employment and save fuel

AJDR Cooperative are improving health, cutting carbon and helping street kids and unemployed youth earn an income by making fuel-efficient charcoal-burning stoves from scrap metal, heat retaining insulated baskets and wood burning rocket stoves. Over 16,000 efficient stoves have been sold in the past four years, saving over 8,000 tonnes of CO2. With the Rwandan government firmly committed to cutting charcoal use, AJDR is further improving the efficiency of its stoves.

Nuru East Africa Ltd. – Rwanda

Pedal-powered lights brighten lives

An innovative approach from Nuru East Africa has found a new way to provide affordable lighting in rural areas using LED rechargeable lamps that sell for only US$5. The lamps replace smoky kerosene lamps in homes and are also used as bicycle lights. Nuru has also developed pedal powered generators to recharge the lamps. Nearly 10,000 lamps have been sold and 70 pedal-powered generators are now in use, mainly in Rwanda and also in Kenya. And with a new carbon finance deal, Nuru plans to set up hundreds of new entrepreneurs in the next three years.

Ugastove Ltd. – Uganda

Stoves priced for the poorest

Price is key if the poorest are to access efficient stoves. Ugastove is making fuel-efficient charcoal and wood stoves for homes, schools and businesses, which sell for as little as US$7. They are making the stoves accessible to the poor through a scheme which allows customers to pay back the price of the stove through the cash they save on charcoal. About 80,000 stoves have been sold since 2006 and their total greenhouse gas savings are now over 100,000 tonnes a year of CO2. The enterprise is expanding to reach customers in more remote parts of Uganda and beyond.

We are sorry to announce that Kawere Muhammad, the founder of Ugastove, died unexpectedly on 23 May. We offer our condolences to his family. We are confident that Ugastove will continue to thrive and build on Kawere’s legacy.

See pictures of the 2011 International winning innovations

[Text and Pictures courtesy of The Ashden Awards]

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