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The 2019 Zayed Sustainability Prize, the UAE’s global award in sustainability, saw over 2000 submissions from 130 countries. However, the highest number of applications came from Africa, with African innovators winning in three out of five categories including Energy, Food and Global High Schools.  

Africa leads in the Zayed Sustainability Prize

This is a testament to the growing role African innovators are playing in global innovation, the judges said. The winning technologies addressed real-life social, environmental, health and economic challenges, and “reflected the aspirations of a new generation of innovators within a continent that has one of the world’s biggest youth populations”.

The winner in the Energy category was BBOXX, which has developed a plug-and-play solar device offering users an on-grid experience in an off-grid setting. The company has so far installed over 150 000 solar systems across 35 countries, many of which are in Africa, and has connected over 675 000 people globally with clean, affordable energy solutions.

“We are passionate about harnessing pioneering data and technology to power economic growth and transform the lives of underserved communities living off-grid. Winning this award is an important milestone along our journey,” says Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and co-founder of BBOXX.

ECOSOFTT was awarded the prize in the Water category for its decentralised community water management standard, which outlines a set of solutions for source management, water use, water recycling and discharge. In the Health category, ‘We Care Solar’ received the award for its Solar Suitcase, a portable maternity device to assist with childbirth and related medical services in off-grid rural areas.

Picking up the Prize in the Food category was Tanzania’s Sanku, for its flour fortification machines that equip and incentivise small-scale local millers to fortify their flour with life-saving nutrients. Sanku has currently installed 150 fortification machines in flour mills across five East African countries, impacting the lives of almost one million people daily by providing them with safer and healthier food sources.

Within the Global High Schools category, the African Leadership Academy in South Africa won for its proposed creation of a water treatment machine called ‘The Living Machine’, a device designed to treat greywater for use in greenhouses. The school’s proposal also included the implementation of solar power to reduce electricity costs, providing savings that will be used to fund additional renewable energy projects, waste management and best agriculture practices.

“I am immensely pleased with the announcement. It is quite humbling for us as a team and even more so as an institution. Being recognised as the winners of the Global High Schools Category, for sub-Saharan Africa, is a testament to the belief that we are stronger together,” says Jesse Forrester, Project Lead of African Leadership Academy’s Living Machine Project.

The other five recipients of the 2019 Global High Schools category were: The Impact School (Guatemala), representing The Americas; Gymnasium Goethe (Tajikistan), representing Europe & Central Asia; American School of Dubai (UAE), representing the Middle East and North Africa region; SECMOL (India), representing South Asia; and Muntinlupa National High School (The Philippines), representing East Asia Pacific.

Winners of each category received $600 000 in prize funds to enhance and develop their existing solution. In the Global High Schools category, the schools received up to $100 000 each.

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