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Mashesha stove a game-changer for rural communities

Disruptive technology aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change and global warming was a huge feature that the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) second Innovation Bridge (IB) Technology Showcase and Matchmaking event, which took place on September 15 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Gauteng.

South Africa is expected to become hotter and drier over the next 30 years as the effects of climate change and global warming impacts countries in the region. More extreme weather, droughts and floods are expected.

Government has acknowledged the problem and has taken concrete steps to deal with the issue. The National Development Plan’s vision and trajectory for climate change is that by 2030 South Africa’s transition to an environmentally sustainable, climate change resilient, low-carbon economy and just society will be well under way.

A huge part of the strategy is ensuring the country embraces an energy mix, using environment-friendly energy sources, and the DST is supporting a number of initiatives for the development of such technology. Some of these exciting inventions were on display at IB. Higher education institutions, science councils, private companies, youth start-ups and government-funded entities showcased these disruptive technologies.

Among these was the Mashesha stove, an invention that is revolutionising cooking in the country’s rural areas. Cooking on an open fire is not only harmful to the environment, but hazardous as well. Statistics show that 70% of people in sub-Saharan Africa and 11% of South Africans rely on wood fuel to meet their daily energy requirements.

The invention is a game-changer: it’s a double-barreled metal chamber with strategically placed air vents to allow for natural convection airflow, which promotes high heat combustion and a secondary ignition of syngas.

The stove is ideal for replacing substandard paraffin stoves; it is more cost-effective and healthier, and the fact that cardboard briquettes made can be used as a viable fuel source makes it even more appealing. The Mashesha stove is fuel efficient and burns with a clean, hot, efficient flame that saves roughly 56% of wood fuel.

Innovator Louise Williamson of Sustainability Professionals (Pty) has an enormous passion for the environment and strives to make a positive impact in communities. She has 16 years’ experience in working with rural communities on sustainable development projects.

She said the Mashesha stove uses half of the fuel that open fires require, and is a lot safer as it uses a closed gasification process for combustion. “This means that the stove has nearly complete combustion, as it burns all the smoke.”

The Mashesha stove has changed the lives of the women in Mpumalanga who prepare food for learners at Thanda Primary School in Hectorspruit as part of the national nutrition programme. They received the stoves in August 2017 and started seeing results almost immediately. The innovation has saved them cooking time, reduced smoke production — thus improving lung and eye health — and the learners are also enjoying tastier meals.

The innovation has already earned several accolades, including the 2016 GCIP-SA Social Impact Award, and a nomination for round three of the African Entrepreneurship Awards, to be announced in October 2017.

The manufacturing company is based in Mpumalanga, and has received funding and support from the DST’s entity, the Technology Innovation Agency. The Mashesha stove is currently in its commercialisation phase and is being marketed to local wholesale stores. Mozambique and Swaziland have already given the stove the thumbs up and distribution will begin there soon.

2017 Award Winners

Over 100 innovations from higher education institutions, science councils, and government-funded companies were on display at the second Innovation Bridge Showcase and Match-Making event in Midrand, Johannesburg.

A key focus of the event organised by the department of science and technology was to bring together local companies and entrepreneurs needing investment opportunities, to be able to take their products towards commercialisation.

Potential funders and business partners had the opportunity to evaluate a range of new local innovations on show, from new industrial isotope technology, construction polymers, and higher-yield wind turbines, to smart water metering systems and additive manufacturing technology for prosthetics and medical devices.

The day’s activities concluded with an awards ceremony for those who excelled in advancing South Africa’s inclusive economic growth objectives through innovation.

The winners were as follows:

Sponsored by department of science and technology:

1. Best Innovation: Hlomuka Holdings — Circumcision Device

2. Best Prototype: Rhodes University — Field Lab

3. Best Exhibitor: Agricultural Research Council

4. Innovation most likely to find markets: University of Cape Town — Additive Manufacturing Medical Device

5. Best Innovation with Social Impact: Zenzele Community Wifi Network Solution, supported by University of the Western Cape.

Additional Prizes: Trademark search, Durban University of Technology — Turn Up Speakers and Sustainability Professionals (Pty) Ltd — Mashesha Hot Stuff Stove.

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