The African green energy firm getting $1 million from Motsepe

  • The Motsepe Foundation, owned by Patrice Motsepe, has awarded a green energy company from Malawi a prize of $1 million.
  • The company, Aftrak, supplies solar microgrids that are easily built and made for African farmers.
  • All semi-finalists of this leg of the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy will receive $20 000 to test and work on their energy solutions.

On Tuesday, the Motsepe Foundation, owned by South African billionaire and Mamelodi Sundowns owner Patrice Motsepe, announced a winner for the Milken-Mosepe Prize in Green Energy. Motsepe was on hand in Los Angeles to award the winners (far left in the cover image).

This competition by the Foundation in collaboration with the US-based economic think-tank the Milken Institute, seeks to hand out $2 million in rewards to entrepreneurs working to expand access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable off-grid electricity in Africa.

This year’s competition found the Malawi-based Aftrak as the number one prize winner, with a Grand Prize reward of $1 million. Aftrak offers easily assembled solar microgrid and custom-designed tractors, which have tripled agricultural yield, increased farmer incomes, and provided electricity to remote communities.

A South African company, OMNIVAT, celebrated the prize of $250 000 as the first runner-up. OMNIVAT works to supply containerized electricity generation and storage systems, which provide clean water, clean energy, and WiFi that is powered by virtual reality support for remote communities across the continent.

“Meeting the teams and witnessing their work and determination to solve one of the biggest challenges facing Africa was truly inspiring,” said Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, co-founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation, and wife of Patrice Motsepe.

“We congratulate the Green Energy winners and all the finalists. Your innovations show such promise, and we will be watching with pride as you bring your technologies to market.”

This leg of the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy is the second in the Milken–Motsepe Innovation Prize Program, a series of multiyear, multimillion-dollar global innovation competitions and awards aimed at advancing technological progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The first competition in this program, the Milken–Motsepe Prize in AgriTech, was launched in 2021, and focused on addressing the goals of eliminating poverty and hunger in Africa.

20 Semi-finalists presented for the Green Energy prize this year to a panel of judges, but there could only be one winner. All semi-finalists other than the grand prize and runner-up will still go home with $20 000 to develop and test their innovations.

“Each of the teams underwent a rigorous, independent judging process, which assessed their innovation’s potential to deliver 60 kilowatt hours of off-grid electricity in a 24-hour period using only sustainable sources,” the foundation explains of the judging stage in an announcement sent to Hypertext.

“Five teams were then chosen to advance to the Finalist Round. Each team received an additional $70 000 and showcased their innovations in a live demonstration in partnership with Stellenbosch University in South Africa,” it adds.

The next Milken-Motsepe Prize is the FinTech Prize. This particular prize will see its launch this year, and the winner will go home with another $1 million, with a total of $2 million to be handed out to all finalists.

“The prize will award companies that demonstrate the use of cutting-edge technologies to expand access to capital and financial services for small businesses in emerging and frontier markets,” the foundation said.

Registration for this prize is open until 6th August 2024.


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