Innovation: Africa

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Innovation: Africa
Innovation Africa Image.png
FounderSivan Ya'ari
Area served
ServicesSolar panels, agricultural and solar technology, water pumps, and refrigerators

Innovation: Africa is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that brings Israeli solar, water and agricultural innovations to rural African villages. Founded in 2008, the organization has completed over 300 projects providing light and clean water to 1.8 million people in 10 African countries.[1][2] Innovation: Africa maintains headquarters in the US and Israel and operates in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Cameroon, Zambia and Eswatini.[3][4]


At the age of 20, Israeli-born Sivan Ya'ari made her first visit to Africa. Having witnessed people living without basic necessities such as electricity and access to clean water, Ya’ari concluded that with access to energy, living conditions could be improved.[5] With a master's degree in international energy management from Columbia University, Ya’ari began bringing sustainable energy solutions to African villages.[6][7] In 2008, Ya’ari founded Innovation: Africa.[8]

In August 2017, in partnership with UNICEF, Innovation: Africa expanded its program to Cameroon, to serve refugees and asylum seekers from Central African Republic and Nigeria, as well as local internally displaced Cameroonians and provided aid to 259,000 refugees.[9][10]

In April 2020, Innovation: Africa ramped up its efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19[11] in particularly vulnerable villages with teams on the ground drilling and constructing solar water-pumping systems.[12][13] Recognizing the threat of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the organization expedited hundreds of projects to provide access to clean water to villages and electricity in medical centers to power lifesaving medical equipment such as ventilators.[12]

Local Innovation:Africa contractors installing solar panels in Zambia, 2019


Water tower in Zambia, 2020

Solar power for schools and medical centers[edit]

Innovation: Africa installs solar energy systems which provide power for schools, orphanages and medical clinics by installing solar systems.[14][15]

In schools, Innovation: Africa provides computers and light to the classrooms and the homes of teachers. In medical centers, light is provided to the facilities as well as the homes of nurses and doctors. Innovation: Africa also supplies solar refrigeration, to properly store medicines, vaccines, and other necessary medical equipment.[14][16]

Funds to maintain the sustainable solar systems, such as the replacement of light bulbs and batteries, are generated by the village communities through Innovation: Africa’s help establishing micro-businesses such as phone charging stations and barber shops that charge small fees.[17][18]


Innovation: Africa installs solar-powered water pumps to access water from underground aquifers and bring clean water to taps installed throughout the village.[19] Each solar water pumping system pumps an average of 30,000 liters of water per day and provides up to 10,000 people with clean water.[11] It takes nearly 3 months to complete the necessary infrastructure for the solar water pumping system. This includes a ten-meter tower, a tank holding up to 10,000 liters,[20] a solar pump and solar panels. From the start of the project, the community is involved, Innovation: Africa trains and hires locals to participate in the construction and maintenance.[21]

Drip irrigation[edit]

When possible, Innovation: Africa installs Israeli drip irrigation systems which generate more affordable and larger crop yields using less water, and provide a source of food and income for farmers and their families.[14][22] Providing access to water enables villages to create new businesses and foster financial independence.[1] New businesses include growing and selling vegetables to the local market as well as the making and selling of bricks and livestock.[23][24]


To properly monitor projects, Innovation: Africa installs a remote monitoring system in each project which monitors how much water is being pumped and energy is consumed in each project while registering any problems in the system so potential issues can be fixed fast.[23][25] The system allows the team and any donor to monitor projects in real time.[20]

In 2019, Innovation: Africa’s engineering team developed a self-contained "energy box"[26] which possesses everything needed to provide energy to off-grid schools and medical centers which includes LED light bulbs, lithium-ion battery, and integrates the remote management system.[25]

Children enjoying access to fresh, clean water in Tanzania, 2020

Funding & costs[edit]

Innovation: Africa is a registered 501(c)(3) based in the United States and is funded entirely by private donors.[9] Donors include foundations, philanthropies, corporations, and individuals (many bar/bat mitzvah children)[17] as well as schools and communities that have joined together to “adopt” a village. A one time donation of $50,000 covers a solar water project which provides clean drinking water to an entire village of up to 10,000 people, or $18,000 to provide electricity, computers and medical equipment for schools, orphanages or medical centers.[9][19] Salaries and overhead are paid through foundations (grants), separate from funds raised for projects.[27][16]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2012, Innovation: Africa was granted special consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).[28] The following year, the organization was awarded the United Nations Innovation Award for its efficient and sustainable Israeli remote monitoring technology.[14] In 2019, Innovation: Africa won the Innovative Diplomacy Award from the Abba Eban Institute.[29] Uganda’s Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda described Innovation: Africa’s work as having been a catalyst in accelerating the relationship between Uganda and Israel.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "How Israel is innovating Cameroon through solar systems". Journal du Cameroun (in French). 2018-03-02. Retrieved 2020-02-04.
  2. ^ "Israeli tech helps African villages protect against corona". Israel21c. 2020-04-07. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  3. ^ Surkes, Sue (23 January 2020). "Israeli Tech Brings Clean Water and Electricity to African Villages". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Israeli Innovation Makes an Impact in Africa". Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania. June 7, 2019.
  5. ^ "The entrepreneur that brought electricity and water to Africa". Forbes Israel. 2017-09-07. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  6. ^ "Jewish Heroes - Sivan Borowich-Ya'ari - Aspire - JWM". 2016-03-16. Archived from the original on 2016-03-16. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  7. ^ "Innovation Africa :: Our Team". Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  8. ^ Waldoks, Ehud Zion (19 October 2008). "Jewish Heart for Africa". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d Surkes, Sue (January 23, 2020). "LISTEN: Israeli tech brings clean water and electricity to African villages". Times of Israel. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  10. ^ Steinberg, Kayla (August 5, 2020). "Israeli solar power: A literal light unto the nations". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  11. ^ a b Klein Leichman, Abigail (April 7, 2020). "Israeli tech helps African villages protect against corona". ISRAEL21c. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  12. ^ a b Cohen, Benyamin (April 8, 2020). "Coronavirus pandemic inspires Israeli group to double its humanitarian efforts". From the Grapevine. Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  13. ^ Ya'ari, Sivan (August 5, 2020). "COVID-19: The situation in Africa is worse than it seems". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  14. ^ a b c d Shamah, David (December 2, 2013). "Lighting up Africa with Israeli technology". Times of Israel. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  15. ^ Innovation: Africa on Israeli TV Channel 2, 2016, retrieved 2020-08-23
  16. ^ a b Klein, Katherine (January 13, 2014). "Bringing Israeli Innovation to Africa". Knowledge@Wharton. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  17. ^ a b Klein Leichman, Abigail (December 17, 2017). "Light and water flow to rural Africa due to Israeli tech". ISRAEL21c. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  18. ^ Oryszczuk, Stephen (April 12, 2018). "Africa gains from Israel's solar system". Jewish News. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  19. ^ a b Lipman, Dov (February 25, 2018). "Helping the African People Is Right — and Will Also Help Israel". The Algemeiner. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  20. ^ a b Heilman, Uriel (September 4, 2019). "Sivan Ya'ari on Bringing Israeli Innovation to Rural Africa". Hadassah Magazine. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  21. ^ Ya'ari, Sivan (July 2018). "Israel70 | Innovation: Africa". Fathom. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  22. ^ Shamah, David (July 7, 2014). "NBA legend Mutombo, Israelis team up to help Africa". Times of Israel. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  23. ^ a b Goldberg, Ann (August 5, 2020). "innovation:africa, Israeli innovations saving lives in Africa". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  24. ^ Cohen, Benyamin (April 5, 2017). "How one woman is transforming lives in rural African villages". From the Grapevine. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  25. ^ a b Rosenbaum, Alan (August 5, 2020). "How Israel is bringing water and energy to Africa". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  26. ^ "Sivan Ya'ari on Bringing Israeli Innovation to Rural Africa". Hadassah Magazine. 2019-09-04. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  27. ^ Blum, Ruthie (2014-02-19). "Israeli energy powers rural Africa". ISRAEL21c. Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  28. ^ Udasin, Sharon (August 5, 2012). "Jewish Heart for Africa receives UN recognition". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  29. ^ "AEI InnoDip Award: Celebrating Innovation in Diplomacy". InnoDip Award. 2019. Retrieved 2020-06-01.