Three African energy pioneers have won this year's Ashden Awards, the world's leading green energy prize. Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Patron of The Ashden Awards, personally congratulated them at a separate meeting. The winners -- Gaia Association (Ethiopia), Kisingani Smith Group (Tanzania) and Fruits of the Nile (Uganda) -- received a total of £60,000. Presenting the awards, Kenyan Nobel Prize laureate Wangari Maathai praised the winners as "wonderful energy pioneers:"
...who are responding to the needs of their communities. They have decided to take action in the face of huge challenges, displaying not just patience and persistence, but a sense of urgency and determination. We salute these sustainability champions and the Ashden Awards, who help to make their work better known so that they can continue to inspire others.
Although the last part of her message seems directed at African innovators and entrepreneurs, let's hope that African governments will be amongst the 'others' who will be inspired by this year's winners. As the Ashden Awards demonstrate, it takes but a modest amount of funding combined with good public relations to bring much needed attention and seed funding to those who are pioneering the elimination of energy poverty in Africa. For most governments on the continent, the cost might be no more than foregoing yet another 4WD. But let's leave that topic for another day, another place. For now, congratulations to Gaia Association, Kisingani Smith Group and Fruits of the Nile for winning the Ashden Awards 2008!