By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Inventor of solar energy powered and rechargeable tricycle (kekeh), James Samba, last Friday, August 4th, emerged as the 2024 winner of the Orange Sierra Leone Social Venture Prize (OSVP), national competition. The competition comes with a prize of NLe100, 000 as start up for the winner.
During his pitch presentation at the Limkokwing University, Hill Station in Freetown, Samba said that his innovation seeks to solve the problem of the usage of fuel in the country and also helps reduce the pollution of the air by carbondioxide, stating that his innovation uses solar panels and batteries.
He presented that his tricycle which uses no fuel could be the solution to huge consumption of fuel in the country, adding that using his innovation no one should be bothered with shortage of fuel in the country or fuel increment.
He said his tricycle capacity is bigger than the normal ones and that it is also disable friendly.
Making his statement at the event, Chief Executive Officer of Orange Sierra Leone, Sekou Amadou Bah said the journey of Orange Social Venture started in 2019, with the ambition to giving Sierra Leoneans innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to secure funding, mentorship and expansion of their businesses.
He said the investment fund of the orange group has played a great role in empowering African young innovators with start-ups fund in 17 African and Middle East countries they are operating.
He said as a mobile company, they are position to be the lead digital partner in Africa and the Middle East, to boost innovation technology.
He said in the area of digital inclusion, Orange Foundation has empowered many sierra Leoneans including women and in just less than one year, more than 1,600 people have been trained through their digital centre and 52% of the people trained are women.
He further stated that, they have also launched the women’s in 2021 in partnership with the the National Communications Authority of Sierra Leone (NatCA) to help train the uneducated and unemployed women in basic commercial, digital and financial management, disclosing that more than 126 women have graduated from the center.
He disclosed that they are committed to launching four more digital training centers in the provinces and two of those centers will be dedicated to women.
He said over the years, they have accelerated the OSVP competition through the support of their partners, Innovation Sierra Leone, to bring more means to innovation in the country.
He said the innovation competition looks into the field of education, health care, in commerce and agriculture with the aim of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal and that they also have an additional prize to support women’s empowerment in digital solutions that will improve the living conditions of women in Sierra Leone.
He said in 2022, one Osman Yaah, emerged the winner of the national competition and out of 17 countries with over 1,400 participants, one Joseph Koroma emerged the winner of the Orange Social Venture Prize international competition for the first time in Sierra Leone.
Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Ramatulai Wurrie said the remarkable initiative of OSVP seeks to recognise and reward technically inclined projects with the positive impact in vital areas such as education, health, agriculture, e-commerce and most importantly for the improvement of women living conditions for sustainable development in Africa and also the Middle East.
She said in the dynamic landscape of Africa progress, technology stands as a catalyst for transformative change, adding that through the Orange Social Venture Prize competition.
She said education has a role to play in that transformation in nurturing lives and also unlocking potentials, adding that in the realm of education, technology has emerged as a driving force, standardizing access to knowledge and opportunity.
She said the OSVP resonates with the government’s big five agenda, which includes youth employment scheme, feed Sierra Leone, technology and innovation in terms of infrastructure, human capital development and also revamping the public sector landscape among others.