Business Climate

Ashden Awards 2020 Finalists: African climate innovation more crucial than ever

Proven solutions are crucial to sustaining momentum on climate action during the Coronavirus crisis, Ashden CEO Harriet Lamb has said. 

This week, the energy and climate NGO announced the 2020 Ashden Award finalists – 22 organisations delivering green buildings, transport, sustainable cooling and energy access. The list includes organisations working in Cameroon, Togo, Uganda, Rwanda and Egypt.  

Ms Lamb said: “While fighting Coronavirus is rightly the world’s priority, the climate crisis continues. But as we emerge from the crisiswe have to ensure a green reboot of our economies and societies, one that puts the values of community and compassion centre-stage.” 

Global fossil-fuel emissions rose by 0.6% in 2019. Meanwhile, almost one billion people – including about 600 million in Sub-Saharan Africa – have little or no access to electricity. But many clean energy enterprises and organisations on the continent now face reduced demand or investment because of the pandemic.

Ms Lamb said: “It’s more important than ever that we find, fund and replicate effective climate solutions. Their success will sustain and build momentum at this difficult time. But innovators can’t flourish alone – they need commitment from policymakers and investors.” 

Africa’s 2020 Ashden Award finalists

Energise Africa 

The Energise Africa investment platform allows anyone to buy bonds worth £50 or more in African solar businesses. There’s protection for your first £100 capital invested, and match funding from major development organisations. The platform has raised £13m of working capital so far. 

Togolese Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Agency (AT2ER) 

In Togo, only 35% of homes have access to electricity. The Togolese Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Agency is working with the private sector to deliver on- and off-grid energy. Subsidies, training and new technology help the initiative target women and the poorest households. 

New Energy Nexus Uganda 

New Energy Nexus Uganda helps the country’s community-based organisations distribute clean energy products and services including stoves, lights and water filters, bringing them to some of the country’s most marginalised people. New Energy Nexus provides finance, training and a catalogue of products for organisations to buy.

Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch (CAMGEW) 

Slash and burn agriculture has destroyed large parts of Cameroon’s rainforest. CAMGEW helps local people, particularly women, become bee farmers instead – a more sustainable way of earning a living. CAMGEW provides training, organisation and equipment, and helps farmers sell their honey at a fair price. 

Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) 

Informal buses can be uncomfortable, unreliable and dangerous. In Kigali, Rwanda, RURA has replaced informal minibuses with less-polluting, better regulated buses. These offer ‘tap and go’ payment systems and serve more neighbourhoods. Ridership has doubled. 


Women-led architecture firm ECOnsult is keeping farm workers in the Egyptian desert cool. Their green village makes use of shading and natural air flows to lower temperatures. These passive cooling techniques are a more sustainable alternative to air conditioning.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende