Cultivating a Greener Future: Grace’s Story

“Agricultural value addition and use of technology will boost productivity and improve social economic development of the African communities.”

Grace Nanteza is one of the three winners of the MGA Young Talent of the Year Award 2022, presented in the framework of the COP27 at the event Youth Empowerment for Driving African Energy Transition.

Her expertise lies at the intersection of agriculture and renewable energy, recognizing that the relationship between the two is critical in building a more sustainable future. Hailing from Uganda, where over 70 percent of the population is employed in agriculture, Grace has demonstrated exceptional innovative thinking in this sector, finding solutions to address the challenges faced by her community.


Harvesting Change

Grace's upbringing in rural Uganda gave her firsthand experience of the crucial role of climate in people's lives, especially in a country where only one-third of the population has access to electricity.

Growing up in a family of farmers, agriculture played a significant role in her livelihood. Over the years, she observed that climate change has rendered planting seasons unpredictable, making every harvest season more challenging. These experiences fostered her curiosity about the future of agriculture, and how renewable energy could boost it and make it more effective for last-mile farmers and low-income communities.

What steps could be taken to start implementing concrete change? Let's hear from Grace.

Catalyzing Energy Equity

After completing her master’s degree in physics, she met Charles Nkonwa and Joel T. Muhanguzi, two young people with experience in electronics and software; together, they founded Run Automations Limited, a small company specialised in the digitization of small solar plants.

Their project aimed to bridge the gap between productive use of energy asset suppliers, renewable energy businesses, and low-income populations by enhancing affordability for end-users and stimulating energy demand. Run Automations Limited combines software and hardware, and the IoT device or systems have a combination of sensors and modules that measure power consumption/generation, usage patterns, and asset health. It also alerts concerned parties about tampering, and the hardware can remotely switch on and off in cases of payment plan default or asset misuse.

In a nutshell, through careful monitoring of consumption and a pay-as-you-go model, Run Automations aims to increase the possibility for small Ugandan customers to access clean energy at competitive prices.

Under Run Automations, Grace and her team also founded an Academy that trains youngsters in electronics development, STEM topics, and design thinking among other things. “As a trainer, I encourage and train young people on how to be innovative", states Grace with evident pride. She is sure that  “this will help see a young generation of problem solvers ready to take on climate change challenges in the future.”





Breaking Barriers

Soon enough, however, Grace realised that her dream would come with a hefty price tag and she would have to face multiple unexpected challenges. One of the significant limitations to take into account is surely the high cost of developing a solution that combines software and hardware. “How I tackled this challenge so far was through sacrificing some of my savings to cater for procuring items as well as financing the production processes”, she says, demonstrating all her dedication and unselfishness. Nevertheless, she soon found that the lack of funds was slowing down her progress. To overcome this issue, Grace has been applying for different calls: “I am grateful to the MGA grant”, she remarks…and frankly, RES4Africa is quite grateful too, as without young innovators like Grace, its vision would be way harder to materialize.

“We are in the future”

“We are in a data age“, Grace states. She believes in what is yet to come and, despite the difficulties, she is setting ambitious goals for her Run Automations. She foresees a future in which her technology will be incorporated into productive energy assets, such as solar fridges, cold rooms, and water pumps, and collect usability data to detect faults within these assets and automate remote payments. She also plans to calculate carbon credits and make this information available to customers as well as to install 20,000 devices in the next five years, working directly with PUE appliance manufacturers to incorporate the Run device into their systems.

Grace’s vision for Run Automations, however, is not just about creating innovative tech solutions, but about promoting sustainability and enhancing the lives of people across Africa. With easier access to renewable energy technology, there is a real possibility for rural populations to experience improved social and economic development. The use of solar-powered appliances and lights can help businesses operate longer hours and create a more productive agricultural sector.


With their ambitious project, Grace and her startup are poised to make a meaningful impact on Ugandan society, promoting sustainability and enhancing efficiency. Through her work, this young woman is highlighting the crucial importance of linking sustainable development and energy transition to a substantial change in productive sectors. Her contributions are indispensable for a greener future, that acknowledges and leverages the importance of a holistic and integrated approach to achieving sustainable development goals, without forgetting their ultimate and most noble purpose: serving the welfare of human communities.

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Africa is a continent in continuous transformation, with a sustained economic and population growth, a fast-paced urbanization and a young generation of talents who is leading its business revolution. This transformation requires energy and will require it even more in the next decades.
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