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Shell builds Africa’s first player-powered football pitch

By Tom Walker    18 Dec 2015
Superstar singer Akon took part in the official launch of the pitch

Oil giant Shell has built Africa’s first human-powered football pitch as part of a programme to inspire entrepreneurs to come up with innovative energy solutions.

Located at the Federal College of Education (FCE) in Lagos, Nigeria, the pitch has been fitted with more than 90 underground tiles that capture kinetic energy created by the movement of players.

The kinetic energy is then stored – and combined with power generated by solar panels – to operate the pitch's six floodlights.

Following the installation FCE students have been able to play at night, increasing the usage of the pitch while providing a safer and more secure space at the heart of the community.

The tiles are the invention of British entrepreneur Laurence Kemball-Cook, founder of Pavegen, who has been supported through the Shell LiveWIRE initiative.

Music superstar and solar entrepreneur Akon joined Shell and FCE staff for a high-profile launch of the pitch.

The Singer has previously publicly announced his personal commitment to teaching young Africans the importance of harnessing the power of Africa’s renewable energy. Akon is spearheading, through Akon Lighting Africa, a large scale effort to develop solar-powered solutions that will provide African communities with access to clean and affordable sources of electricity.

He said: “New, reliable and smarter energy solutions play a major role in driving human progress in Africa. Projects like this innovative football pitch draw attention to the major opportunity that Nigeria as well as the whole of Africa have if we look to better harness new technologies and the continent’s abundant renewable energy resources.”

“The pitch will also feature in my upcoming video for “Tell Me We’re OK” because I want young people, whether they are in Lagos, Los Angeles or London to think about how they too can help us make the future.”

Osagie Okunbor, managing director of Shell Nigeria added that the pitch could be used as a template for other similar sports projects across the country – and the continent.

“We need bright energy ideas,” he said. “Some of these will come from Shell but naturally, others will come from outside our business. So it’s crucial that Shell supports energy entrepreneurs, and we hope that this pitch will inspire more entrepreneurs and young people to help us make a smarter energy future.”

• Shell LiveWIRE is an international programme that has been a catalyst for young entrepreneurs to develop enterprising ideas into viable and sustainable businesses for more than 30 years.

The LiveWIRE programme was expanded to Nigeria in 2003 and since then it has trained more than 6,000 youths in enterprise development and management, of whom more than 3,000 have been provided with business start-up assistance.

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