Chioma Nnadi (not real name) is an undergraduate at the polytechnic studying electrical engineering. She is doing a part time job to support her schooling as an orphan. At times life could be really hard when no part time jobs are coming or the little money she made from previous ones could not sustain her through the semester.
However, her encounter with a classmate a year ago changed her story. Her friend told her about Sahara Group’s search for young inventors through the ‘Sahara Light Up Nigeria Challenge’. It is a platform for young people to proffer alternative and renewable energy sources that have the potential to enhance eco-friendly and sustainable electricity supply in Nigeria.
Through ‘Sahara Light Up Nigeria Challenge’ Sahara Group has inspired students of higher institutions of learning across the nation to explore opportunities for achieving sustainable power supply within their environment.
The privilege to inspire youths to reach for their dreams and provide platforms to facilitate socio-economic development to beneficiaries across the globe is priceless to Sahara Group, Tonye Cole, the organisation’s executive director and Co-Founder says.
Sahara Group, a leading African energy conglomerate with operations in 8 countries across four continents officially turns 20 years on August 23, 2016.
Speaking on the milestone achieved by Sahara, Cole says whilst the company had witnessed significant successes in its core operations, it places more premium on its corporate responsibility achievements.
He adds Sahara had recorded several sustainable interventions in the areas of education and capacity building, health, sustainable community development and the environment through the Sahara Foundation.
“We are humbled by the impact we have made and remain committed to doing much more through collaboration with local, regional and global organisations that share our passion for bringing energy to life,” he explains.
Cole says that Sahara was looking to upscale the reach and impact of its interventions in the countries where it has operations as well as other locations to enhance efforts aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
“Sahara is indeed proud of the milestones we have recorded these past 20 years. We are blessed with unique staff and are excited about the future as we continue to spearhead innovation in the entire energy value chain. However, beyond the numbers, we will continue to cherish the privilege God has given us to be a blessing to millions of people across the globe. We celebrate all our friends and stakeholders who have made the Sahara story a phenomenal success and look forward to the future with excitement.”
The most recent of Sahara Group’s intervention is the Food Africa project which seeks to pilot an innovative approach aimed at revamping the food sector to create new jobs for young people, increase farmers’ revenues, improve productivity, enhance nutrition and reduce food loss through more sustainable production practices.
The project which has Kaduna State as the pilot location is being driven by Sahara Group, the Kaduna state government, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Fund (UNSDG-F) and UN Goodwill Ambassadors, brothers Joan, Joseph and Jordi Roca of restaurant El Celler can Roca, ranked among the best chefs of the world.
Sahara also unveiled its extrapreneurship platform to reach 12 million beneficiaries in the next four years through platforms that find, create and connect young extrapreneurs in emerging markets.
Extrapreneurship involves creating value through shared thinking and leveraging internal and external strengths to drive cross-sectoral collaboration. This is made possible by connecting the right people and organizations towards providing sustainable solutions to global social problems.
In the past Sahara Foundation has successfully executed several projects including the provision of borehole for clean water across Nigeria in conjunction with the Carter Foundation towards guinea worm eradication, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme (WASH) which held at Ibafon Primary School, Lagos. These programmes focused on providing clean water, encouraging proper hygiene and sanitation amongst communities and primary school pupils.
The Foundation also launched the Inclusive Education Project for Persons living with Disabilities partnering with Cedar Seed Foundation to provide scholarships to one hundred beneficiaries, who also received wheelchairs, elbow crutches, guide canes, hearing aids, walking sticks and sunglasses.
In furtherance of the quest to provide relief to underprivileged communities, Sahara Foundation donated mechanized boreholes in Asante Akim North District in Ghana, providing potable drinking water which has significantly reduced the cases of water borne diseases to that community. The success of this led to the replication of the model in 15 other communities in Ghana and 30 states across Nigeria.
The Career Counseling Programme, launched in collaboration with CARE Foundation of Singapore, organized an event where about 60 teenage boys and girls in Singapore were challenged to a more positive attitude to life. This was replicated and even taken further in Nigeria – Lagos and Abuja – through the establishment of fully equipped Guidance and Counseling centres in Eko Akete senior secondary school and Government Secondary School, Karu.
The Eye Care Programme demonstrated the commitment of the Sahara Group to the total eradication of preventable blindness in rural areas across the country. In partnership with Unite for Sight Nigeria and Light First Foundation Cote d’Ivoire, outreaches were carried out in 15 states across Nigeria and in various locations across Cote d’Ivoire screening thousands of beneficiaries, providing required treatments, prescription glasses, eye drugs and other medications whilst, cataract surgeries were carried out on those that were discovered to be living with the anomaly.
Not one to turn a blind eye to community health challenges, Sahara Foundation, in partnership with Biire Maternal Child Health Foundation implemented an all year round support programme aimed at reducing mother to child transmission of HIV. Over 200 members of Iba Oloja community in Ibeju– Lekki Lagos benefitted from the programme.
The Foundation also partnered with ENACTUS Nigeria to create and develop the Sahara Light-Up Nigeria Challenge which aims to inspire students of higher institutions across the country to develop alternative energy sources to enhance sustainable power supply – especially in rural communities.