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Aftrak shortlisted for Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy

Aftrak has managed to move one step closer to helping improve the lives of billions of people across Africa after being shortlisted for the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy and a US$1mn funding boost on 2 November

Loughborough University's groundbreaking initiative, Aftrak combines solar microgrids and tailored tractors to empower smallholder farmers across Africa. More than 800 million people have no reliable access to electricity, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, and rural regions of Asia. Aftrak helps address this issue by allowing energy access and increasing crop yields, thereby helping farmers' boost their income. 

The US$338.1 project created in collaboration between the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI), UK- and Malawi-based charity Tiyeni, and Loughborough University is funded by Innovate UK as part of its Energy Catalyst Round 9 programme, which officially kicked off in London on 20 April this year. Tractors being developed at Loughborough University are low-cost, hand-operated and offer a solution for farming in hardpan, a compacted layer of rock-hard earth found under a few centimetres of topsoil, in many areas of Malawi. 

Tiyeni has also created an innovative agricultural method called Deep Bed Farming (DBF), a three-stage process that combats the devastating impacts of hardpanThe objective of the initiative is to provide sub-Saharan Africa with green energy solutions that are both socially inclusive and affordable, while also creating a self-sustaining model for decentralised energy access. 

Tiyeni's executive director, Alex Gerrard expressed great delight in winning the prestigious prize. "As a small charity working in rural Africa for the last 18 years, we have seen the transformation our Deep Bed Farming has on the communities we service by doubling crops yields. Aftrak has the potential to take this to the next level, speeding up land preparation and making it more accessible, while also providing green energy to even the most remote communities. Creating a productive and strong foundation to empower communities to thrive is at the heart of Tiyeni's mission, and combining Deep Bed Farming and Aftrak can truly turn the tide on food and energy insecurity."

Following successful tests at Loughborough University, the Aftrak system will be tested in Malawi next year. In addition, the system will also be tested in South Africa in February 2024, prior to the announcement of the award winner at the Milken Institute Conference in May. 

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