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SMEs critical in cleantech sector

SMEs critical in cleantech sector

Jun 25, 2013

“In most countries, SMEs represent a majority of the cleantech industry and are significant drivers of energy innovation and contributors to overall economic growth through employment,” says Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize.

However, the funds involved in research and development of new technology could constrain SMEs. This is where the Prize plays a key role in recognising and funding companies that are engaged in developing the solutions for energy access and addressing climate change.

“Our previous winners have witnessed the transformational effect of the Prize. We would like to encourage SMEs in Africa to join forces with us and participate in the Prize,” continues Dr Al-Hosany.

A delegation from the Zayed Future Energy Prize, the world’s preeminent award for innovation in renewable energy and sustainability, completed a visit to South Africa in May to raise awareness about the scope and reach of the Prize, and to draw increased participation for its 2014 edition.

Dr Al-Hosany attended African Utility Week in Cape Town, where she gave a presentation on the Prize and its categories to an audience of African policymakers and energy businesses.

In her talk, she explained the Prize’s mandate and the submission process, while emphasising the benefits renewable energy can bring to African countries looking to sustain and broaden economic growth.

Her visit to South Africa comes at a time when African countries are increasingly focussed on the potential renewable energy offers to their economies. Egypt, Ghana, Madagascar and South Africa respectively have set ambitious renewable energy targets of 20%, 10%, 75% and 13% of national electricity production by 2020.

Africa’s hydropower potential is estimated at around 1 750TWh and its geothermal energy potential is estimated at 9 000MW. Over 80% of the continent receives about 2 000kWH per square metre of solar resources per annum.

Dr Al-Hosany says, “Africa represents an important constituency for the Prize. Although some 90% of sub-Saharan Africans living in rural areas lack access to electricity, the continent is blessed with extensive renewable resources. We want to encourage governments, businesses, and civil society to spur economic growth and job creation through renewable energy targets.”

She also hosted a renewable energy luncheon at The Innovation Hub, a science and technology park in Gauteng, which has partnered with infoDev, a unit of the World Bank to establish the Climate Innovation Centre to boost green growth and job creation through small business, met with key influencers in education, energy and development, and visited two schools.

“Sustainable development seeks to preserve the Earth’s bounty for our children, and their children, to inherit. In rewarding sustainable development initiatives such as renewable energy, we are helping to safeguard their future. It is imperative that young people are empowered and supported to participate in debates which are central to this vision.”

The Zayed Future Energy Prize is open to applicants in the categories of large corporation, small and medium enterprise (SME), non-governmental organisation (NGO), the individual lifetime achievement and high schools.

Launched in 2008, the Prize has gained global recognition and built a strong reputation as the most influential award in the renewable energy and sustainability community.

It seeks to award achievements and innovation in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability, as well as to educate and inspire future generations. Industry experts, academics, world- and thought leaders serve on the jury and related committees. In five years, 21 innovators have been awarded from across the world.

Submissions for the sixth edition of the Prize will close on 5 August, 2013. Winners will be announced at the Zayed Future Energy Prize awards ceremony scheduled for 20 January, 2014 as part of the annual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

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