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The AfricArena Nairobi Summit and Africa Climate Tech Festival, jointly hosted by AfricArena and the Catalyst Fund, concluded with an awards ceremony for the most promising innovators in climatetech solutions. Among the highlights were ground-breaking start-ups focused on reversing climate change and driving sustainable practices across the continent.
Arnaud Suquet, ambassador of France to Kenya, praised the event’s timing during the first Africa Climate Week in Nairobi, emphasising the importance of fostering climate solutions within the continent.
He reiterated France’s commitment to supporting green technology initiatives and highlighted the significant public financing dedicated to such projects, stating, So, rest assured it’s one of our priorities. We fund so many projects here.”
Christophe Viarnaud, founder and CEO of AfricArena, announced that all start-ups that pitched at its events this week would receive $10 000 in AWS credits. A total of $300 000 in AWS credits was allocated to participating start-ups.
Start-ups advancing to AfricArena’s grand finale in Cape Town later this year would receive $25 000 in AWS credits to aid in building and scaling their innovations on the AWS platform, said Viarnaud.
Octavia Carbon, led by founder and CEO Martin Freimüller, emerged as the winner of the special prize for innovation in climatetech solutions. Freimüller expressed his excitement, saying, “We seek to reverse climate change and end the fossil fuel age in Kenya. We design, build, and deploy direct air carbon capture machines. Kenya’s energy, geology, and talent make it the ideal location for our mission.”
He added, “We are very excited to already be building the world’s second largest direct air capture and storage plant here in the Kenyan Rift Valley, and we have the ambition to make East Africa the true home of direct air capture well into the century.”
Knight and Apps received recognition for their efforts in the fight against climate change. It is one of Kenya’s most versatile, locally owned ICT and renewable energy solutions firms with a wide coverage in East Africa.
While accepting the award on behalf of founder Francis Romano, a representative expressed their commitment to achieving net-zero energy and their dedication to combating climate change, saying, “We hope to work together and have a net-zero energy and we fight climate change together.”
Honours for green financing and cleantech innovations
Melanin Kapital founder Melanie Keita expressed her gratitude, saying, “This is a nice surprise. We are a green financing platform providing green loans and carbon credits to SMEs. This is our third edition at AfricArena, and we are grateful and happy to have this platform to share more about what we’re trying to do and meet exciting founders and investors.”
In the deeptech start-up category, Miraj Desai from Chaji Energy emerged as the winner. Chaji Energy is developing a cutting-edge mega charging station to meet diverse battery charging needs cost-effectively.
Jesse Forrester, co-founder and CEO at Mazi Mobility, secured the cleantech award. Mazi Mobility is driving the future of electric vehicles in Africa, transforming the transport sector. The climatetech award went to Rotimi Thomas from SunFi in Nigeria, an energy financial technology platform connecting people to solar energy access with tailored payment plans.
Ayoola Dominic, founder of Koolboks, claimed victory in the Agritech track. Koolboks provides pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar-powered refrigeration solutions, significantly reducing the cost of off-grid refrigeration.
Three special AfricArena awards were dedicated to early-stage start-ups. HP Duvenhage, co-founder and CEO of Arabal Grow in South Africa, was the first to be called to the stage. He described their agritech start-up that uses deeptech to make its vertical farming solutions to aid food security as “very cool”.
Farm to Feed, a Kenyan agritech start-up dedicated to ethical and sustainable practices, was recognised with the Most Innovative Business Model award.
The investor award was bestowed upon the Cairo-based Climate Resilience Fund, supporting MENA start-ups with sustainable agricultural and “nature-positive” solutions to address the climate crisis.