By Mark Kawalya
Uganda’s Comboni College innovators, Michael Okao, Darius Ogwang, and Joshua Elem, won the prestigious Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Transition Award. The trio developed a solar concentrator that produces renewable energy for clean cooking. This innovative solution not only addresses the pressing need for clean cooking alternatives but also contributes to the transition towards sustainable energy practices.
The Commonwealth Secretariat announced the award winners at an event hosted in partnership with the governments of Fiji and Zambia during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai.
The recognition of the Comboni College student innovators on the Commonwealth stage underscores the potential and talent within Uganda’s educational institutions. The students’ success serves as a testament to the importance of fostering innovation and sustainable development within the country’s academic sphere. Their accomplishment not only brings honor to their school but also shines a spotlight on the potential of young Ugandan innovators to drive positive change in the field of sustainable energy.
By harnessing renewable energy for cooking, the innovation addresses the challenge of indoor air pollution and the reliance on traditional cooking methods, which often contribute to adverse health and environmental impacts. Furthermore, their achievement aligns with global efforts to advance sustainable energy transitions and mitigate the negative effects of conventional energy sources.
Bangladesh’s Areebah Armin Ahsan and Pakistan’s Sarah Shahbaz Khan were awarded for their exceptional short stories titled ‘Tragedy to Triumph: Biogas in Daria Nagar’ and ‘Mud-coated Walls and Sandy Dunes’, respectively. Michael Chiangi Gbagir from Nigeria won the Best Educator Award for his initiative ‘EcoPower Adventure’, which involves interactive learning activities like energy scavenger hunts to engage different communities. The Commonwealth Secretariat and YOUNGO, the children and youth constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), jointly analyzed 100 climate finance initiatives aimed at young people.
Speaking at the event, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland KC, said: “Young people, who make up 60 percent of Commonwealth citizens, are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, living mostly in areas prone to extreme weather events. As a result, many are facing job losses, displacement, health issues, and educational setbacks. In the face of adversity, the resilience of young people shines through as they harness their drive and talent to lead on powerful climate solutions.”