Press Release: WePlanet Africa awards winners of nuclear energy essay competition


[Nairobi, Monday, September 4, 2023] – In a ceremony that showcased Africa’s commitment to harnessing the potential of nuclear energy, the winners of WePlanet Africa’s inaugural Essay Writing Competition on nuclear power were honored for their depth, research and insightful perspectives on the subject.

Organized by WePlanet Africa, the competition sought to start a conversation on and encourage innovative thinking regarding the role of nuclear energy in Africa’s future and her efforts to attain SDG #7 on access to clean and affordable energy and SDG #9 to promote sustainable industrialisation.

No of participants

The essay competition drew 128 participants from 60 universities, in 13 countries from across Africa. Mike Felix Okoth Ochieng’, a 5th year student of Electrical and Electronics Engineering at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya emerged top.

Connor Dalen, a first year student of Physical Sciences at the University of Pretoria in South Africa was the first runners-up while Chiahanam Joseph, a 5th year student of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Nigeria came in as the second runners-up.

Kiggala Jessy Sean, a 4th year student of Bachelor of Petroleum Geoscience and Production at Uganda’s Makerere University came in 4th while Sandra Afwande Olang’o, a 4th year student of BSc in Radiography at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology came in at 5th position.

Top countries

Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya recorded the highest entries at 38, 36 and 33 respectively. Other countries that participated in the competition include Ghana with (6), Burkina Faso (1), Egypt (1), Ethiopia (1), Liberia (1) and Malawi (4). Others are Sierra Leone (3), South Africa (2), Tanzania (1) and Zambia (1).

While recognizing the winners and the initiative by WePlanet Africa, several speakers emphasized the importance of nuclear power in Africa’s energy mix. Representing the CS Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry The Chief Guest Hon. Soipan Tuya, Nema Vice Chair Ms Sophie Takaria Matura , described nuclear energy as perhaps “Africa’s last best bet to addressing climate change and powering sustainable economic development”.

She highlighted the potential benefits of nuclear power including enhanced energy security, baseload power, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and increased access to electricity for under-served communities.

“Almost 600 million Africans lack access to reliable energy sources and we know that nuclear power offers a viable solution to the continent’s energy deficit without exacerbating the negative effects of climate change – thanks to its low carbon footprint ,” said Hon Tuya.

Karolina L. Gylfe, the Replanet Secretary General lauded the initiative as crucial to driving a conversation around nuclear energy and the need to transition the African economies from running on fossil fuels to clean energy.

Prof Charles Kibanani Ngome, The WePlanet Africa Board Chairperson and Board member of the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), said through the essay writing competition, WePlanet Africa and her partners sought to empower the next generation of leaders and thinkers to take an active role in shaping Africa’s energy future.

“By fostering critical thinking and research skills, WePlanet Africa seeks to cultivate a generation of individuals who are equipped to tackle the energy challenges of the 21st Century,” Prof Ngome said.

According to Patricia Nanteza, the WePlanet Africa Coordinator, the competition was designed to encourage and promote a deeper understanding and perception of nuclear energy’s role in Africa’s sustainable development.

“Through this competition, we provided an ideal platform for university students to delve into the subject matter, contribute to the ongoing discourse on sustainable energy solutions and showcase their research skills, critical thinking and innovative ideas,” Ms Nanteza said, adding that by participating in this competition, students contribute to Africa’s energy sector while competing for recognition and valuable prizes.

Tour of nuclear plant

The winners were carefully selected by a distinguished panel of judges that compromised experts drawn from the energy sector, climate change as well as enthusiasts of sustainable development from across the globe. They assessed the essays on originality, depth of research, innovation, relationship to climate change and link to sustainable development.

The winner and their collaborating lecturer will enjoy a 3-day trip to a nuclear power plant in South Africa. The First and 2nd Runners-up won laptops while the 4th and 5th winners won smartphones. The top 5 essays will be published on the WePlanet Africa website and all 128 participants will become honorary members of WePlanet Africa.

The event brought together senior government officers, esteemed experts, policymakers, and scholars and researchers and students with a common goal: to propel Africa towards a cleaner, more secure, and economically viable future.

Mike Felix Okoth Ochieng overall winner of the essay writing competition receives a laptop from Nema Vice Chair and Guest of Honour Ms Sophie Takaria. Together with his lecturer, Ochieng will also enjoy a trip to a nuclear plant.
RePlanet International SG Karolina L. Gylfe awards Sandra for coming 5th in the Essay writing competition on nuclear energy. Looking on is her lecturer Mr Raphael Chesori.


Patricia Nanteza – WePlanet Africa Director


Kiggala Jessy 4th winner receives award from RePlanet Kenya Country Coordinator Tim Machi


Sandra Afwande, 5TH winner in the competition.


Three of the 5 winners of the essay competition pose with RePlanet staff in Nairobi after being awarded. From left: Timothy Machi (WePlanet Africa Kenya Country Coordinator), Patricia Nanteza (WePlanet Africa Director), Jessy Kiggala Sean (4th in the competition), Sandra Afwande (5th in the competition), Mike Felix Okoth Ochieng (overall winner), Ms Sophie Takaria (Guest of Honour and Nema Vice Chair), Karolina L. Gylfe (RePlanet International SG) and Prof Charles Kibanani Ngome (RePlanet Kenya Chairperson)


Winners Jessy Kiggala Sean (4th in the competition), Sandra Afwande (5th in the competition), Mike Felix Okoth Ochieng (overall winner)



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