African Utility Week’s Innovation Hub offers unique opportunity

“Our goal is to take our clean cooking fuel to every energy poor household in Uganda by 2020 and to every country in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030,” says Sanga Moses, 
CEO of the ground breaking company ECO-FUEL AFRICA and a true success story of home-grown innovation on the continent. The award winning ECO-FUEL AFRICA trains marginalized farmers to turn locally sourced biomass waste into a product called char using simple, locally made kilns. Since 2010, the company has grown to employ 40 people and a network of 2,300 women micro-retailers and 3,500 farmers who use their kilns.

Twenty SMEs, start-ups and young innovators will be given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase their new development or invention for the power and water industry at the Innovation Hub taking place during the upcoming African Utility Week in Cape Town from 17-19 May.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship form the lifeblood of any economy and the energy and water sectors need this more than ever” says Evan Schiff, African Utility Week event director, adding “and our Innovation Hub will gather the brightest minds and ideas and partner them with the right people to take their projects to the next level and out into the world where they can make a real difference.”     

He adds, “we are so excited to offer 20 innovators out there the opportunity to be part of the Innovation Hub where they will meet with seasoned industry experts, heavyweights as well as industry incubators to help facilitate the growth of an African entrepreneurial ecosystem.” The winners will each receive a free exhibition stand within the Innovation Hub area for the duration of the three-day exhibition and showcase their developments or inventions through live presentations. They will benefit not only from the Innovation Hub conference sessions but also from industry incumbents, VC funders, project developers, incubators and the 6,000+ visitors at African Utility Week who they get to interact with.

Entry forms are on the website at:

The Innovation Hub conference 

“Innovation is often associated with development of new hardware and equipment technology”, says Helmut Hertzog, General Manager, Seda Atlantis Renewable Energy Business Incubator (SAREBI) and a speaker at the upcoming Innovation Hub in Cape Town. He explains: “developing new innovation in hardware is extremely expensive. The Johanna Thin film solar is a good example of this. Innovative payment and financing models abound the world over, there is very little space for new innovation here.”He continues: “in my view the key question is why so few South Africans adopt simple technologies like domestic solar water heating to start with? Why do so many rural communities shun clean off grid power solutions? Perhaps the single biggest innovation required is to find ways for the consumer market to actually adopt and desire simple proven technologies”.

Other speakers at African Utility Week’s Innovation Hub programme include:

  • Innovative thinking in rural electrification and iShack case study: off-grid solar electricity to incrementally upgrade informal settlements
    David Hees, Sustainable Enterprise Manager, Sustainability Institute Innovation Lab (SIIL), South Africa
  • Developing social entrepreneurial ecosystems to overcome challenges faced by young entrepreneurs in developing/emerging markets
    Nicola Jowell, Convenor: Masters in Inclusive Innovation, UCT Graduate School of Business, UCT, South Africa
  • Facilitating the growth of an entrepreneurial ecosystem and SWET (Stellenbosch Wind Energy Technologies) case study
    Philip Marais, CEO, Launchlab, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
    Ernie Aylward, CEO, Stellenbosch Wind Energy Technologies, South Africa
  • New technologies in rural electrification and innovative business models
    Wim Jonker-Klunne, Programme Director, Energy and Environment Partnership Southern and East Africa, South Africa
  • New cogeneration technologies: Development and Implementation of the Eternity Power Thermal Harvesting Project at Anglo Platinum
    Jacques Malan, Director, Vuselela Energy, South Africa
  • New technologies: A geo-nuclear energy mix to reduce the cost of electricity production by over 40%
    Ronoh Kibet, Geothermal Projects Engineer, Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), Kenya