Kenyan companies selected as finalists for Prince William’s award

Mukuru Clean Stoves

Mukuru Clean Stoves has grown since its inception in 2017, with 200,000 people in Kenya using the stoves, saving $10 million (Sh1.2 billion) in fuel costs, as well as lives and time.

Photo credit: Mukuru Clean Stoves

Two Kenyan companies have been selected as finalists for the prestigious Earthshot Prize.

Roam and Mukuru Clean Stoves were recognised for their innovative solutions that tackle the big environmental challenges our planet faces.

The award, launched in 2020 by Prince William, was founded to mobilise a wave of innovation and inspire a collective mindset of optimism, possibility and creativity in the global race to repair and regenerate the planet.

The 15 finalists will be in the running to receive £1 million (Sh136.3 million) at the second annual Earthshot Prize awards ceremony.

The prize takes inspiration from President John F. Kennedy’s ‘Moonshot’, which united millions of people around an organising goal to put man on the moon and catalysed the development of new technology in the 1960s.

The British high commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriott, said the recognition of Mukuru Clean Stoves and Roam shows that Kenya continues to be a pioneer of green and clean energy.

“Both are an example of Kenya’s renewed commitment to clean air, and inspiring positive climate action,” she said.

She also noted how the UK-Kenya Climate Partnership had driven investment in clean-air projects, including helping Roam secure £6.6 million worth of investment to expand its operations.

“The UK is proud to have supported Roam to secure investment to grow their innovative operation. We look forward to taking the UK-Kenya Climate Partnership further at COP27 in Egypt,” Ms Marriott said.

Founded in 2017, Roam began as a research project at a Swedish university. Five years on, the company has brought affordable, electric transport to Kenya.

The company builds motorcycles and buses tailored to the market with affordability and reliability at the forefront. It plans to produce 150,000 motorcycles and 800 buses per year by 2026.

Roam co-founder and CEO Filip Lovstrom said the company was honoured to be recognised alongside many other brilliant solutions.

He noted that while bodabodas are the best way to get around and many rely on them for a living, they are also among the highest CO2-emitting vehicles on the market.

Roam saw that as an opportunity and decided to design electric vehicles and motorcycles fit for the Kenyan market.

Meanwhile, Mukuru Clean Stoves was recognised as a female-led startup providing cleaner-burning stoves to women in Kenya to reduce unhealthy indoor pollution and provide a safer way to cook.

Founder Charlot Magayi said the company began as a solution to a problem that she had felt personally in her own life.

“Today, we have an opportunity to transform the lives of millions, with cheaper, safer and more sustainable cookstoves and fuels. It is a privilege to be recognised by the Earthshot Prize as we embark on the next step in our journey,” she said.

Mukuru Clean Stoves has grown since its inception in 2017, with 200,000 people in Kenya using the stoves, saving $10 million (Sh1.2 billion) in fuel costs, as well as lives and time.

Across Africa, 700 million people use solid fuel to cook on open fires and cookstoves that emit toxic chemicals and lack safeguards. As a result, each year accidents and air pollution kill four million people.

Cookstoves made by Mukuru Clean Stoves are different. Rather than burning dangerous solid fuels, they use processed biomass made from charcoal, wood and sugarcane. This burns cleaner, creating 90 per cent less pollution than an open fire and 70 per cent less than a traditional cookstove.

Mukuru Clean Stoves is a female-founded business with mostly female staff and distribution agents and is empowering women to make a living by making a difference.

Ms Magayi plans to create an even cleaner stove that burns ethanol.

Her long-term goal is to reach 10 million people all over Africa in the next 10 years.

Roam and Mukuru Clean Stoves are Kenya’s third Earthshot finalists in two years. In 2021, Kenyan company Sanergy was a finalist in the ‘Build a Waste-Free World’ category.

Prince William and the Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, will attend the awards in Boston on December 2 to honour the finalists and celebrate the five 2022 Earthshot Prize winners.


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