By Christopher Bendana
A Ugandan renewable energy innovator Brian Galabuzi Kakembo has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Youth Award 2020. The award recognizes young people whose innovative projects have made significant impact in helping their countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
In a statement issued by the Commonwealth Secretariat, Galabuzi the founder of WEYE Clean Energy was praised for using profits from his enterprise to fund community outreach programmes and skilling young people in smart agriculture.
His enterprise had reached 800 women and the youth of whom 600 are earning income from briquette making or plastic waste recycling.
WEYE produces and sells briquettes made from biodegradable plastic and organic waste like banana peels.
Kakembo is one of only 16 youth shortlisted from the four targeted regions that include Africa, Asia, Pacific and the Caribbean and Canada.
Others shortlisted from Africa are Joshua Ebin from Nigeria, Salvatory Kessy of Tanzania, and Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti from Kenya.
Speaking by phone Kakembo said the award comes at the right time when his organization is creating awareness of the alternatives source of energy rather than from wood.
“The award gives us the right attention and publicity that there are alternatives to wood fuel,” he said. “The public need to understand about these alternative’s and join us.”
Use of wood for charcoal is one of the main drivers of deforestation in Uganda.
Uganda’s tree cover has been declining over the years. It declined from 24% (4,933,271) hectares (ha) of land area in the 1990s to 9% (1,956,664ha) in 2018 according to NFA though in a yet to be released report it talks of gaining (having) some gains.
The statements adds that the competition received 500 entries from 40 countries. Each of those shortlisted wins British Pound £1000, regional winners, Commonwealth Young Person of the year 2020 will travel to London to attend the award ceremony and will walk away with £3000. The overall Commonwealth winner will receive £5000.
The Commonwealth’s head of social policy development Layne Robinson said: “Their talent paired with tangible solutions sends a strong signal that they should be equal partners in the development agenda, not passive allies.
“With now only 10 years remaining to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Commonwealth takes great pleasure in bringing these young people’s invaluable efforts to the global stage so their leadership can inspire others and accelerate meaningful youth participation.”
The judging panel included high commissioners, development experts and youth leaders from across the Commonwealth.