Three clean water startups win contest to pilot their technology in Africa

EZMEMS, NanoClear Water Solutions, and SoLED will work with Innovation Africa, whose solar panels pump water from underground aquifers and clean it for villagers

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

A child in Malawi enjoys clean water thanks to the work of Innovation Africa. (Innovation Africa)
A child in Malawi enjoys clean water thanks to the work of Innovation Africa. (Innovation Africa)

Three Israeli startup companies focusing on clean water are to pilot their technologies in Africa together with Innovation Africa, an Israeli not-for-profit organization with projects in ten of the continent’s countries.

The three beat dozens of other contestants to win a competition run jointly by Innovation Africa and DeserTech.

They are EZMEMS, NanoClear Water Solutions, and SoLED.

EZMEMS’s multi-sensing technology can be integrated into water systems to provide data on performance and safety.

NanoClear Water Solutions, which focuses on a nature-based approach to cleaning water, has developed a porous nano-ceramic material infused with beneficial bacteria.

SoLED has created a UV LED-based water disinfection device powered by sunlight that can be used in places with limited or no electricity. It is the creation of Tel Aviv University Prof. Hadas Mamane and PhD candidate Dana Pousty.

Innovation Africa has completed more than 900 solar energy and water projects across ten African countries, according to its website, impacting the lives of millions of Africans.

Innovation Africa uses Israeli technology to clean water from polluted sources for the benefit of African villages. (Innovation Africa)

Innovation Africa raises funds through private donors to bring solar panels to African villages. The organization, founded and run by Sivan Ya’ari, has outlined three purposes for its projects: to light up schools so that pupils can study for longer, as well as the homes of teachers and principals; to power clinics to function 24/7 and to operate a variety of electricity-dependent machines; and to pump water from underground aquifers and filter it before directing it along pipes to village faucets.

Installing solar panels in an African village. (Innovation Africa)

Reut Yahav-Spitzer, water quality expert at Innovation: Africa, said, “We were not highly optimistic about this process at the beginning, as we thought we already knew the Israeli ecosystem. Yet… we were surprised to find some promising technologies that can be implemented on our sites. Israel’s water ecosystem has much to offer, and DeserTech helped us work closely with diverse entrepreneurs to build fruitful collaborations.”

DeserTech is an Israeli platform for climate technologies geared to dry and desert climates. Based in the Negev city of Beersheba, it is a joint initiative of the Merage Foundation Israel, the Israel Innovation Institute, the Environmental Protection Ministry and Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

In a separate project, DeserTech is partnering with the Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and the 11 African countries leading the “Great Green Wall” movement.

The Great Green Wall is an African-led initiative aimed at rehabilitating 100 hectares (over 385,000 square miles) of degraded land across the Sahel region by 2030, generating millions of jobs and capturing 250 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Sivan Cohen Shachari, director of the DeserTech Community, said that by collaborating, Israeli organizations such as DeseTech and Innovation Africa could leverage Israeli technology to bring sustainable living to arid climates and position the Negev region as a global hub for these technologies.

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