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Clean cooking and e-mobility soar in Africa as Kenyan start-ups lead

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

Green energy start-ups targeting low-income earning communities in the continent are competing with global outfits; some have attracted international recognition.


Bonface Orucho, bird story agency


Two start-ups operating in Kenya were unveiled as part of the 15 finalists of the 2022 Earthshot Prize, an award designed to find and grow solutions that seek to solve environmental challenges.

Kenyan-based start-up Mukuru Clean Stoves and Kenyan-Swedish e-mobility company, Roam, were unveiled by Prince William and Earthshot Prize council as two of the three finalists in the Earthshot Prize to Clean Our Air category.


The competition winners will be announced on 4th December in Boston. However, all finalists will have access to “tailored support and resources from The Earthshot Prize Global Alliance Members, an unprecedented network of private sector businesses around the world committed to helping scale innovative climate and environmental solutions and multiplying their impact,” a statement from Earthshot read.


Alongside 13 other start-ups from across the world, the two, the only ones from Africa, will be in the race for a 1 million Sterling Pound final award to be offered to five of the fifteen finalists selected by the Earthshot Prize Council.


Prince William, in a statement, noted that the finalists are to be celebrated because “they are directing their time, energy, and talent towards bold solutions with the power to not only solve our planet’s greatest environmental challenges, but to create healthier, more prosperous, and more sustainable communities for generations to come.”


Mukuru Clean Stoves designs, produce and distributes improved, reliable and affordable cook stoves for low-income households sourcing its materials from waste.


Clean cooking and e-mobility soar in Africa as Kenyan start-ups lead


Since 2017, Mukuru Clean Stoves has sold over 7000 clean stoves reaching out to about 2000 learning institutions and vulnerable communities in “Mukuru”, the third-largest slum in Kenya.


Roam, a Swedish-Kenyan e-mobility company drives the transition to sustainability in the transport sector by developing, designing and deploying electric vehicles in African cities.


According to Albin Wilson, Chief Strategy & Product Officer at Roam, Roam is “addressing the source of the climate change challenge - carbon emissions - and offering electric mobility a foot to stand on.”


Roam has been on the frontline in pioneering e-mobility in the continent with its first-ever electric, public mass transit bus announced in October. It is presently in operation in Nairobi.


Mukuru and Roam, however, mirror hundreds of other private sector start-ups and collaborative projects and programmes in different African countries that seek to facilitate the realisation of clean air in the cooking and transport sector.


McKinsey, in a 2021 report, ‘Green Africa: A growth and resilience agenda for the continent,’ outlined that “15% of African emissions from cooking, waste, and transportation can be abated while also significantly reducing air and water pollution, noise and pollution.”


The different projects and programmes in clean cooking and the transport sub-sectors seek to actualise the projections in the report.


The Clean Cooking Alliance, through the Venture Catalyst Program, “aims to provide a broad range of specialised support to selected companies, solidifying their commercial viability, enhancing their investment-readiness, and facilitating access to growth capital.”


The program has been vital in 11 African countries in enhancing the capacity for ventures dealing in clean cooking through technical, financial and research-based support to reach more people and offer them clean cooking alternatives to the inherent traditional cooking style.


Clean cooking ventures in Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Lesotho, South Africa, Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda, DRC, Nigeria and Ghana are some of the direct beneficiaries of the program.


Also, the recently launched Tanzania Clean Cooking Project, a 3-year project co-partnered by the Tanzanian government and the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, seeks to catalyse the adoption of clean cooking solutions in rural and among marginalised communities besides attracting the private sector into actively participating in the development of clean cooking solutions is also projected to up-scale clean cooking in the country.


In the project, US$3.75 million will be availed to facilitate matching grant financing and to offer technical assistance to private sector enterprises involved in clean cooking projects.


About 60000 households will benefit from the program by directly awarding clean cooking stoves.


Tanzania’s National Determined Contributions submissions from 2021 show that it seeks to slash emissions by 30 and 35 per cent by 2030, making the program a critical step towards actualising these targets.


Further, Tanzania plans to reinforce its commitment to cutting emissions by establishing a Clean Cooking Energy Fund in the 2023/24 financial year to strengthen and boost capacity for the existing clean cooking programs.


In the e-mobility industry, private start-ups continue to increase investment in e-mobility in the continent. Most notably, the recent entry of Indian company M-Auto into the Togo and Benin markets has significantly increased the uptake of e-bikes and e-vehicles in West Africa.


In Togo, the uptake has been further facilitated by comprehensive legislation after the government of Togo in March lifted taxes on e-vehicles imported into the country.


In the two markets, M-Auto revealed it had sold 500 e-bikes in the first quarter of roll-out, with an additional 3 000 bikes ready for market, making it the largest e-vehicle company in the continent.


bird story agency


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