Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu is one of the four winners of the 2020 Waislitz Global Citizen Award in the “water and sanitation” category for his innovation ‘ColdHubs’.
The Waislitz Global Citizen Award is an annual competition that rewards outstanding individuals who strive to reduce global poverty.
ColdHubs is a modular refrigeration chamber powered by solar energy.
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 of America 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.
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.
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.
At least 48 women have also been recruited to maintain the giant refrigerators.
According to Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu:
“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.
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.”
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.
Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu’s ColdHubs 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.