African bamboo was one of the 12 organizations that was awarded by the for a project under the theme Powering Agriculture. It is  the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the Swedish Government, Duke Energy Corporation, the German Government, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, that has coosen the 12 organizations that will collectively receive $13 million in funding.   The awards will support innovative projects aimed at integrating clean energy technology into the agriculture sectors of developing countries.  

“Powering Agriculture: A Grand Challenge for Development demonstrates how we can harness ingenuity and entrepreneurship to generate and scale real solutions in our fight to end extreme poverty. Joining a community of hundreds of innovators working across five different Grand Challenges, today’s winning ideas prove that we can change the landscape of what is possible in development,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.

African Bamboo is a forestry, wood, and bio-energy company located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Located amongst Africa’s largest reserves of bamboo, African Bamboo PLC develops innovative applications for bamboo, particularly for industrial and commercial uses. The company was established in 2012 as a subsidiary of Fortune Enterprise PLC which since 1961 has been a manufacturer of wood and metal products in Addis Ababa.Awardee: African Bamboo PLC (Ethiopia).

Within Ethiopia, there is over 1 million hectares of bamboo. Recognized as a fast-growing and largely sustainable raw material, there is an increasing global demand for bamboo as a wood substitute for a variety of construction and furnishing applications. However, bamboo resources are often poorly managed.

African Bamboo is developing an environmentally friendly bamboo thermal modification process called ThermoBoo. Though this chemical-free process, decay factors such as rot and insects are virtually eliminated, and the thermally modified bamboo fiber can then be further processed into sturdy panels that can be marketed to a range of domestic and international buyers.  Through the project’s successful implementation of a pilot processing facility, African Bamboo envisions developing a replicable model that can lead to prospective business opportunities throughout the region.

The success of this project will develop new opportunities for export, employment, and manufacturing in Ethiopia. In addition to its socio-economic impact, bamboo cultivation of native species plays a significant role in environmental protection.

Selected from a pool of 475 applications – 55 percent from developing countries – the winning organizations will design and deploy market-based, clean energy solutions for agricultural production in developing countries. These technologies will enable farmers to increase production and the value of agricultural goods through a focus on improving irrigation, on-farm mechanization, agro-processing, and cold storage – all while bolstering low-carbon economic growth.

The winning innovators and the countries in which they will implement their projects are:

iDE. International Development Enterprises –  Honduras, Nepal, and Zambia
The Earth Institute at Columbia University -Senegal
Camco Advisory Services – Benin and Tanzania
EarthSpark International – Haiti
ECO Consult – Jordan
Motivo Engineering – India
African Bamboo – Ethiopia
SunDanzer Refrigeration – Kenya
Promethean Power Systems – India
University of Georgia Research Foundation – Uganda
REbound Technology –  Mozambique
Experience International – Indonesia
The announcement took place at a Development Exchange in Washington, D.C., where winners showcased their projects and discussed the impact they plan to achieve through the introduction of their new technologies in emerging markets.  The Development Exchange also comprised speeches by USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Ambassador of Sweden to the United States Bjorn Lyrvall, and African inventor Kelvin Doe.  Video messages were provided by thought leaders such as chef and social entrepreneur Jose Andres.

Powering Agriculture, launched in 2012, is a program designed to link renewable energy technologies with farmers and agribusinesses in low-income countries.  Increasing their access to clean energy solutions empowers farmers to produce more and better quality food and products, and move that food to more distant markets.  These advancements feed families, build businesses, and empower communities with affordable, sustainable, and market-based solutions.

Learn more about the Powering Agriculture Round 1 award winners.