South African cleantech innovation grows from strength to strength during four-year partnership

South African cleantech innovation grows from strength to strength during four-year partnership

PRETORIA, 3 November  - Top performers for 2017 in the Cleantech Innovation Programme in South Africa (GCIP-SA) were announced at a gala and awards event held in Pretoria on 3 November. Hosted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), the event was attended by 170 high-level guests from various foreign embassies, the South African government, industry and academia.

Keynote speaker Minister Naledi Pandor from the Department of Science and Technology presented the grand prize of R120,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to California to Bandile Dlabantu, whose mobile insect bio-conversion unit was announced as the GCIP-SA’s winning cleantech innovation for 2017. Dlabantu’s innovation uses black soldier fly larvae to convert organic waste into animal feed, helping emerging farmers to improve their yields. He will head to the Cleantech Open Global Forum in California in January 2018 on an all-expenses-paid trip to compete against the top performers from other GCIP programmes from across the globe.

Sara Andreotti’s eco-friendly Sharksafe Barrier and Euodia Naanyane-Bouwer’s Gracious Nubian washable and reusable sanitary pads received runner-up prizes of R60,000 each. They will both be joining Dlabantu at the Cleantech Open Global Forum next year.

Three special category winners were also announced at the event, each receiving R20,000 in prize money. In addition to her runner-up prize, Naanyane-Bouwer scooped the innovation for social impact award. The award for the best woman team went to the TouchTap team, led by Stephanie Pons, for an innovation that makes water more easily accessible for disabled people, also in rural areas. Pontsho Moletsane of Yellow Beast won the award for the most promising youth-led business for Nosets™, an automated irrigation system designed to automate the irrigation process for shallow root crops, thereby improving energy and water efficiency in the agricultural sector.

Minister Pandor said that the GCIP-SA’s highly successful programmatic approach accelerates commercial opportunities and creates platforms for participants to promote their product offerings and raise funding.  “Through its ongoing support of entrepreneurs and innovation in the clean technology space, the Programme will contribute to strengthening the resilience of the complex South African entrepreneurial economy to operate within the global market, and will have measurable positive economic and social benefits for the country,” she said.

The Global Cleantech Innovation Programme for SMEs in South Africa (GCIP-SA) is a prime example of an effective joint project involving multiple partners. Over the past four years, UNIDO and TIA have successfully implemented the project, which continues to contribute to the green economy in SA by bringing cleantech innovations to life through entrepreneurial funding, mentoring and training. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has been the principal project funder since 2014, while US-based Cleantech Open serves as the international knowledge partner.

UNIDO Representative and Head of the South Africa Regional Office Khaled El Mekwad said that by working in close co-operation with the government, UNIDO is committed to help in the development of green businesses across South Africa, and engage them towards the sustainable management of natural resources. “The emphasis on the growing importance of cleantech innovations required to reduce carbon intensity in buildings and construction processes is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 9 (SDG9) – ‘Innovation, Industry and Infrastructure’, as well as SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12 (Water, Energy, Sustainable Cities, and Cleaner Production). Furthermore, market retention of cleantech entrepreneurs is a necessity to secure their inclusion in the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

2017 marks the end of the GCIP-SA as a donor-funded project – it will be integrated into TIA as from January 2018. TIA CEO Barlow Manilal believes that the GCIP-SA has been the perfect case study of a successful international partnership, combining local and international expertise in support of the country’s national priorities. He explains: “These opportunities to do things differently allow us to innovate for a sustainable future. It is in this principle that our association with UNIDO in the implementation of the GCIP-SA reflects a meeting of minds and an absolute alignment of purpose.”

El Mekwad expressed UNIDO’s appreciation for the support of the South African Government and all stakeholders involved in this success story. “We are looking forward to further successful partnerships of this nature,” he concluded.

This Press Release was jointly issued by UNIDO and TIA.

For further information, please contact:

Khaled El Mekwad, UNIDO Representative, South Africa


James New, Project Manager, Global Cleantech Innovation Programme, UNIDO