Sagakofe Senior High School (SHS) has emerged winner of the Energy Commission SHS Renewable Energy Challenge fourth edition.
Of the six participating schools which competed at the grand finale, the winning team’s presentation on the five-in-one- agriculture machine project – also known as ‘The Farmers Friend’ – scored the highest mark, making them winners of the day.
Yaa Asantewaa Girls SHS placed in second position followed by Kwabre SHS, with three other schools – namely Mfantsiman Girls SHS, Dormaa SHS and Serwaa Kesse Girls’ SHS – taking the fourth, fifth and sixth position respectively.
The competition, held on the theme ‘Mechanised Small-Scale Agriculture using Renewable Energy Technologies’, seeks to provide education and awareness on renewable energy resources and technologies to students in the various Senior High and Technical Schools of the country. It is also aimed at promoting creative thinking and problem-solving among students.
Prizes given to the winning school included a cash prize of GH¢10,000, one piece of 5KW solar PV system, 30 pieces of solar lamps, 25 copies of GAST Integrated Science books, a plaque and other items.
The team that represented Sogakope SHS in the competition also received a cash prize of GH¢15,000, 5 laptops, 15 solar lamps and 5 solar fans.
In addition to the main awards, Kwabre SHS received an amount of GH¢2,000 for being the best team while Sogakope SHS had the most innovative project.
Giving the genesis of this year’s challenge, Executive Secretary-Energy Commission, Ing. Oscar Amonoo-Neizer, mentioned that the 2023 challenge had 125 schools participating in the 16 regional competitions. Hence describing it as a remarkable increase from the 96 schools that participated in the first national challenge of 2021.
He added that the 16 regional winners entered into two zonal competitions held in Kumasi, where the best 3 schools from each zone were selected.
Speaking as Special Guest of Honour for the event, Second Lady Samira Bawumia implored the Energy Commission to work with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture on providing a platform to demonstrate the students’ projects at the 2023 National Farmers Day to be held in the Western Region.
She noted that it will be an “excellent opportunity to bridge the gap between ideas presented at the event and the real-world application for the benefit of farmers and the nation”.
According to Ign. Amonoo-Neizer, the “continued development and commercialisation” of the students’ projects is key in attaining long-term sustainability of the challenge – hence the commission has established a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).
Also, with the aid of this collaboration, a solar dehydrator developed by the winner of last year’s challenge, Kpedze SHS, has been refined and redeveloped into a viable product.
He said the solar dehydrator launched at the programme will be made available to farmers for use in processing agricultural produce and offer students, teachers and schools an opportunity to reap financial benefits from their projects.
Renewable technologies: a step toward sustainable agriculture – Samira Bawumia
Second Lady Samira Bawumia has re-echoed the power of renewable technologies for the economy’s green sector, describing it as a step in ensuring sustainable agricultural practices.
She noted that renewable energy such as solar, wind and biogas are essential for small-scale farming. and embracing them “opens the door to a new era of agricultural sustainability”.
“…The advent of mechanised small-scale agriculture using renewable technologies marks a significant step toward ensuring sustainable and efficient agricultural practices,” she said.
Delivering her speech as Guest of Honour at the grand finale of the Energy Commission Senior High Schools Renewable Energy Challenge, she further explained that climate, energy and sustainability are collectively determined to raise awareness on the relevance of access to clean energy, particularly renewable energy.
As an advocate of climate change mirigation, she mentioned that: “Renewable energy technologies and solutions, and their impact on sustainable development and the well-being of women and children is of great importance to me”.
Considering the plethora of challenges facing the world with regard to climate change, food insecurity, scarcity of resources and growing populations, she emphasised the need to harness the power of innovation to find sustainable solutions.
She expressed confidence in the youths’ creativity and ingenuity for providing “solutions that can transform the lives of small-scale farmers, reduce our carbon footprint and secure food supply for generations to come”.
For his part, deputy minister of Energy, Andrew Egyapa Mercer, described renewable energy as central to the country’s energy transition and overall energy security – adding that it is imperative to get the youth involved, not only in the discussions about it but also having them directly involved in innovations which align with the net-zero agenda.
Turning his attention to availability of renewable energy sources in the country and how we have utilised it to our advantage, he rated the country’s performance as satisfactory and added that there is more room for improvement.
“The country abounds in renewable energy sources, and their development and use have progressed satisfactorily over the years. However, there is more room for improvement,” he said.
The minister reiterated that reliance on manual farming processes and methods remains a challenge faced in the agricultural sector which affects productivity, and has therefore referred to the focus on innovations in addressing this challenge as timely and very much welcome.
Also, he is hopeful that the smart mechanised agricultural innovations which will be in use nationwide by farmers on a commercial scale in some years to come, will trace their origin to some of the projects presented by students in the competition.
About Energy Commission SHS Renewable Energy Challenge
Initiated in 2019, the challenge was born out of the Commission’s mandate under the Renewable Energy Act, 2011 (Act 832), which is to promote the development and efficient use of renewable energy resources through public education, training and regulation of entrepreneurs in the sector.