As the Africa Climate Summit kicks off in Nairobi, climate charity Ashden has revealed the finalists for its 2023 Ashden Awards – pioneers delivering an inclusive, sustainable future. Eight of the ten finalists in the Ashden Awards’ Global South categories come from Africa – highlighting the fantastic breadth of climate innovation on the continent. Two others come from India and Peru.
Five of the award categories centre on the Global South, with a major focus on pioneers bringing clean affordable energy where it’s needed most – from smallholder farms to camps for displaced people. In addition to these, the Ashden Award for Nature Based Solutions accelerates work protecting threatened forests.
The finalists include a wealth of organisations delivering homegrown solutions in their own communities – such as the small business in Nigeria training up solar energy technicians, and the enterprise turning invasive trees into a clean cooking fuel for the clean cook stoves they make in Kakuma refugee camp tackling deadly smoke from dirty cooking fires and stoves.
The finalists prove the value of putting jobs, skills and livelihoods at the heart of climate initiatives. All are raising people’s incomes and creating economic opportunity, creating the immediate benefits that can meet development goals and unite societies behind climate action.
Call to finance frontline innovation
Dr Stephen Hall, Head of Awards at Ashden, said: “It’s shocking that about 775 million people around the world go without access to electricity, and many more are unable to cook safely.
“Our finalists show the huge power of clean energy to raise incomes, protect health, and create opportunity for women and young people. All while putting countries on the path to a zero carbon future. And even more impressive when we consider how little climate finance actually reaches innovators in the Global South.
“For these reasons, we urge funders and politicians to put energy access centre-stage at this week’s Africa Climate Summit, COP28 and other major climate moments. It’s vital we unlock new and effective finance for energy access solutions – and that it reaches frontline organisations like those on our shortlist.
“Meanwhile, our award for natural climate solutions highlights the vital work of often-threatened Indigenous Communities. This underlines that there is no safe future for humanity without climate justice.
The 2023 Ashden Awards also features six finalists in three UK categories. Discover them here
The 2023 Ashden Awards: Global South categories
Ashden Award for Powering Futures in Clean Energy
– Building the workforce to energise the Global South
Supported by LinkedIn
Burasolutions Solar Academy, Nigeria – boosts skills and pathways to work for women and marginalised people, with support for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Photo: Students at Burasolutions Solar Academy give a practical demonstration during a class session. Their ambition is to work in or set up solar power businesses after graduation. The Academy trains women and marginalised people to install solar systems across Nigeria and learn business skills. They also run an online platform matching installers and buyers. Credit: Emeke Obanor /Ashden
Fondazione ACRA, Senegal – supports marginalised women in rural Senegal to launch solar-powered businesses, with training and access to products and finance.
Photo: Small business owner Diatou Sane received business training plus a loan from international development agency ACRA which enabled her to buy a solar-powered chest freezer in which she stores fish, ice-cream and juices for sale in her village in Ziguinchor Province, Senegal. Credit: Laeila Adjovi/ Ashden
Ashden Award for Integrated Energy Africa
– Boosting the continent’s clean energy pioneers
Supported by Integrate to Zero
Power for All, Uganda – Utilities 2.0 Twaake project unites centralized and decentralized renewable energy companies to achieve faster and cheaper electrification, boost rural livelihoods, and end energy poverty.
Photo: Power for All’s work increasing renewable energy supply in Uganda means small businesses thrive. The Power for All Utilities 2.0 project takes a holistic approach for electrifying Uganda including utilities, mini grids and asset finance. Credit: MiriamWatsemba/Ashden
Husk Power, Nigeria – Through its Nigeria Sunshot initiative, Husk Power is building at least 500 clean energy minigrids by 2026 – supporting businesses, schools and hospitals, benefiting more than 2 million people, and displacing an average of 25,000 diesel generators.
Photo: A solar minigrid in her village and a loan from Husk Power has allowed small business owner Martha Sunday in Kinguna, in Nasarawa State, Nigeria to buy a power-saving freezer and to pay in instalments. Husk’s Sunshot initiative aims to get clean energy access to 2 million Nigerians by 2026. Credit: Maryam Turaki/ Ashden
Ashden Award for Powering Refugees and Displaced People
– Taking on the humanitarian energy crisis
Award delivered in partnership with Global Refugee Network. Supported by NextEnergy Foundation, The Linbury Trust, JAC Trust, The Alan & Babette Sainsbury Charitable Fund.
USAFI Green, Kenya – USAFI Green manufactures and supplies affordable, low-carbon cookstoves in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp – creating work and improving health for displaced people and host communities.
Photo: Lucy Wairimu, a refugee from Kakuma Town, works with USAFI Green in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, manufacturing low carbon cookstoves. The stoves, sold in the camp, are fuelled by timber from an invasive and toxic tree that grows nearby. As well as providinga stable income for her family she is part of a scheme that has huge ecological and health benefits for the refugee and host community. Credit: Kelvin Juma/Ashden
Care for Social Welfare International, Nigeria – uses clean energy to bring much-needed light and water to a camp for displaced people in Nigeria.
Photo: Through access to renewable energy, improved water supply, and the promotion of crop farming, the Centre for Social Welfare International has enabled those living in communities for internally displaced people to access energy and gain an income. Photo: Emeke Obanor/Ashden
Ashden Award for Powering Agriculture
– Tackling hunger and poverty in the Global South
Supported by the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero
Collectives for Integrated Livelihoods Initiatives (CInI), India – CInI helps women in India’s Central Tribal Belt use clean energy to raise their incomes – and become leaders in their communities.
Photo: Smallholder farmers in India’s Central tribal belt work in production hubs organised by Clnl. Decentralised renewable energy – particularly solar – enables a wide variety of agricultural operations including solar irrigation systems, drip irrigation with mulching, local cold chains, solar-powered insect trappers and livestock vaccination cold stores – all coordinated together within theproduction hubs. Credit: Saumya Khandelwal/Ashden
Mobility for Africa, Zimbabwe – custom-built electric tricycles – are providing transport for rural women, boosting their livelihoods, access to social services and saving their valuable time.
Photo: Grace Muhlaba is one of many drivers trained by Mobility for Africa to use ‘hambas’ – low-cost, quality, renewable electric three-wheeler vehicles built for a rural environment. In rural Zimbabwe, having access to such a vehicle means women can transport agricultural produce and themselves to and from markets, saving hours walking, as well as being used for many other community benefits.
Ashden Award for Natural Climate Solutions
– Defending and empowering Indigenous communities
Supported by the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero
CERAF-NORD, Cameroon – supports communities around Benue National Park, and in the north of Cameroon, to restore degraded land through agroforestry.
Photo:A shea butter producer collects nuts in the forest in Sassa-Mbersi, on the northern edge of central Cameroon..CERAF supports with the collection and processing of shea nuts, increasing income and promoting women’s empowerment. CERAF create climate compatible and regenerative livelihoods around the Benoue national park in Cameroon. Credit: Desy Dagna/ Ashden
ECA-Amarakaeri, Peru – supports people to earn a sustainable living through agriculture and gives them the tools to monitor and report illegal logging and mining.
Photo: An indigenous farmer supported by ECA-Amarakaeri in Puerto Azul Mberowe, Peru, showshow the huicungo – the fruit of an Amazonian palm tree – is processed. Having sustainable economic activities like this means incomes have increased. The model of territorial governance they use has been certified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for meeting the highest conservation standards in the world. Credit: Leslie Moreno Custodio/Ashden