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28.10.2014 Press Release


By US Embassy Ghana
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· All winners deployed renewable energy to power socio-economic activities
· 19 other winners named from 5 other African countries

Accra, Ghana – October 24, 2014. Three Ghanaian companies have emerged winners in the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge sponsored by General Electric (GE), the U.S. Africa Development Foundation (USADF) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Each of the companies received a grant of $100,000. The companies, Solar Light Company Limited, Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture and New Energy, all submitted entries for innovative energy solutions that can be deployed to power socio-economic activities within communities in Ghana that are not connected to the country's national grid. The Ghanaian companies joined 19 other grant winners from Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya. Over 300 entries were received from across the continent.

The Off-Grid Energy Challenge is part of Power Africa, President Obama's initiative to increase access to reliable, affordable, clean and sustainable power in Sub-Saharan Africa. Power Africa is also helping ensure responsible, transparent and effective management of energy resources in Sub-Saharan Africa. The three year initiative was launched in 2013 with 6 winners drawn from Kenya and Nigeria receiving $100,000 each, toward their renewable energy projects.

Solar Light Company Limited, plans to improve the livelihoods of Ghana's informal street vendors, who often work for less than $3 a day for long hours in the sun. The company will be prototyping and locally manufacturing the “Sunana” system, a portable solar unit that street vendors can use to charge phones and provide lighting.

Another winner, the Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture (KITA) is a Ghanaian NGO which serves as a leading center for research, technology transfer and education in farming, agriculture, agribusiness, and environmental resources management. KITA is installing a 20-kilowatt biomass gasifier unit to use discarded biomass to power processing equipment that turns palm seeds into palm oil in an off-grid community in Ohwimase, in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.

The third winner, NewEnergy is installing a solar-powered water pumping, filtration, and purification system, as well as a drip irrigation system, to be managed sustainably by a local water cooperative in the off-grid town of Nabogo in northern Ghana.

Speaking at the event, the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Gene Cretz, applauded GE and its partners- USADF and USAID for taking on an active role in lighting Africa and in particular Ghana, through the Power Africa initiative. The ambassador was pleased with the quality of the winning projects, calling the projects “innovative home-grown solutions for the local environment.” He noted, “The Off-Grid challenge, like Power Africa, represents the best of what partnerships can accomplish, when we set our focus on a common goal.”

The CEO of GE Ghana Mr. Leslie Nelson expressed pleasure at the outcome of the event saying that GE was very proud of the calibre of talent that emerged from Ghana in the competition. “This further validates our belief at GE that the indigenous people on the ground have valuable insights on what works best for Africa and innovative solutions to meet the power needs of the continent.”

Mr. Robert Buzzard, manager of USAID/Ghana's Energy program, noted that USAID, as a member of the Power Africa initiative, contributed $700,000 in support of the Off-Grid Challenge partnership. “Much of USAID's technical and financial support to the energy and power sectors in Ghana works on big-picture, upstream links in the chain of energy to power.” For example, we're helping the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum remove road blocks to the flow of natural gas flow from Ghana's Jubilee field to power generation plants. The three projects we're celebrating tonight add to that work and provide immediate impact on the lives of those not living on the grid.”

Additionally, the President/CEO of the United States Africa Development Foundation (USADF) Shari Berenbach said, “USADF is pleased to be supporting economic growth at the grassroots level, by addressing the energy poverty that many communities face. These grants represent the innovation and 'can do' attitude of Ghanaian renewable energy ventures that is spurring on growth across the country.”

Already the winners from the maiden edition of the Off-Grid Challenge in Nigeria and Kenya have started impacting their respective communities with energy solutions. Green Village Electricity is providing solar powered energy to over 70 homes and hundreds of inhabitants of Egbeke community in Rivers state in the southern part of Nigeria. Mibawa, a winning company from Kenya, also is using the “Indigo” solar energy system to provide charging capability for two lights and cell phones for rural households in Eastern Kenya. The Indigo lighting system has now replaced the use of kerosene lamps in these communities.

The final round of the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge will take place in 2015.

ABOUT GE: GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter - The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges; Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance; Building, powering, moving, and curing the world. Not just imagining - Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company's website at

GE Africa, a subsidiary of General Electric, Inc., delivers innovative technology solutions for regional challenges to help its customers support growth throughout the continent. In particular, GE Energy is providing a host of advanced solutions in water, oil & gas, and energy delivery technologies, with a focus on innovative localized energy solutions.

USADF, a public corporation in the U.S. federal government, funds African enterprises, cooperatives and community-based organizations to build capacity and expand economic activities. In 18 countries with over 350 project grants, USADF is benefiting more than a million and a half Africans. USADF operates as the only US agency exclusively centered on an African-led, grassroots development model to encourage shared prosperity

USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency working to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID pprovides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States while improving the lives and livelihoods of millions around the world.

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