Nigerian entrepreneur Nnaemeka C. Ikegwuonu is one of the four winners of the 2020 Waislitz Global Citizen Award, an annual competition that rewards outstanding individuals who strive to reduce global poverty. The entrepreneur won in the water and sanitation category for his project on a modular solar powered refrigeration system.
“ColdHubs” is the name the Nigerian entrepreneur Nnaemeka C. Ikegwuonu has given to his invention. It is a modular refrigeration chamber powered by solar energy. The innovation has picked up an award in the “water and sanitation” category of the 2020 Waislitz Global Citizen Award competition. The annual competition is organized by the Waislitz Foundation, based in Melbourne, Australia, and the Global Citizen, a movement that aims to end extreme poverty in the world by 2030. They are supported by the regenerative medicine company Mesoblast, based in the United States and Australia, and the global fund management group Paradice Investment Management Pty.
The “grand prize” of the Waislitz Global Citizen competition is awarded with an endowment of $100,000. It is accompanied by three additional prizes of $50,000 each, for a total of four awards in several categories, including environment, water and sanitation.
A scheme to reduce pollution from domestic waste
Start-up Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu has received a $50,000 grant from the Waislitz Foundation and Global Citizen to develop its solar-powered modular cold room project in Nigeria. Its innovation enables users to improve food preservation. “In Nigeria, a 35 per cent reduction in post-harvest tomato losses alone would have an impact on vitamin A deficiency for 1.1 million children a day,” says Nnaemeka C. Ikegwuonu. About 6,000 tonnes of fish are harvested every day in the rural areas of the Niger Delta, but due to the tropical climate, only 2,000 tonnes of fresh fish are sold.
Currently 3,517 farmers and fishermen in Nigeria benefit from the ColdHubs. The Nigerian entrepreneur has already installed 24 Hubs in the West African country. The equipment has already conserved more than 20,000 tons of food. “The giant ColdHub refrigerators can also prolong the shelf life of fruit and vegetables from 2 to 21 days. This increases profits for vendors and farmers by an average of 25 per cent,” says Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu. At least 48 women have also been recruited to maintain the giant refrigerators.
New modular refrigeration units coming soon in Nigeria
The Nigerian startup plans to install two new refrigerators in two fruit and vegetable markets in Nigeria, thanks to $50,000 from the Waislitz Global Citizen Award. According to Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, the new facilities are expected to save an additional 3,285 tonnes of food each year, increase the incomes of 200 users and create four new jobs for women. Like the previous ones, the new cold rooms will be designed specifically for off-grid areas. They will also be equipped with photovoltaic solar panels. The solar systems will be installed on rooftops to generate sufficient electricity. The electricity generated and stored in high-capacity batteries will provide power to the units in all weather conditions, while providing reliable, self-contained refrigeration 24/7.
The Nigerian entrepreneur Nnaemeka C. Ikegwuonu offers a subscription model on a pay-per-use basis. First-time users, like existing users, will pay a daily fee of one dollar for each case of food they store.