Three East African sustainable initiatives win prestigious energy awards
Three sustainable energy trail blazers working in East Africa - Futurepump, Haileybury Youth Trust and Mobisol - have all won a 2017 Ashden Award, the world’s leading green energy awards.
From developing solar irrigation pumps to promoting low-carbon buildings to providing powerful solar home systems, all three organisations have been recognised as leaders in their field in the region.
Winner of the Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy and Water, supported by the Waterloo Foundation, Futurepump makes a low-cost, portable solar irrigation pump for smallholder farmers in Kenya and around the world.
Toby Hammond, Managing Director of Futurepump said: "What a complete honour it is to receive an Ashden Award! Inspired by being in the audience of the 2011 Ashden Awards, we decided to build a company to offer solar irrigation technology to emerging markets.
Ashden judges added: “Futurepump’s pioneering solar-powered irrigation technology is helping smallholder farmers irrigate more land and leapfrog to year-round sustainable crop growing which is simultaneously increasing their productivity and income as well as allowing them to move away from polluting diesel.”
Haileybury Youth Trust (HYT) is the winner of the Ashden Award for Sustainable Buildings, supported by the Grosvenor Group. HYT is a charity training young people in Uganda to build using interlocking blocks made of compressed earth - a low-cost, carbon-saving alternative to the environmentally damaging fired brick.
“The Ashden Award recognises the work of the team in Uganda, promoting , sustainable training and construction programmes among some of Africa’s poorest communities, in a way that preserves the beautiful but fragile environment,” Haileybury Youth Trust’s Russell Matcham said.
Mobisol – winner of the Ashden Judges’ Special Award - sells powerful solar home systems that allow customers to use fridges, watch TV and charge mobile phones without relying on fossil fuels, and using an affordable mobile payment plan. Some 80,000 solar home systems have been installed in East Africa so far, benefitting more than 400,000 people.
Mobisol’s high power solar systems can be used not just for homes but for small businesses, enabling entrepreneurial customers to earn additional income.
According to Thomas Duveau, Chief Strategy Officer at Mobisol, the whole team at Mobisol is extremely honoured to receive the Judges' Award this year.
The Ashden Awards are given to pioneers in sustainable energy and are a globally recognised measure of excellence. The winning organisations will receive their Award on Thursday 15 June at a prestigious ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Former Vice-President of the US Al Gore is the keynote speaker and Channel 4 presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy is hosting the Awards.
International Ashden Award winners receive £20,000 in prize money along with a tailored package of support to help scale up their work.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”