Shell LiveWIRE entrepreneur Laurence Kemball-Cook, founder and CEO of clean-tech company Pavegen, teamed up with Shell, and global music star Akon, to unveil the new pitch at the Federal College of Education, Akoka, Lagos. The new pitch is the latest initiative from Shell’s #makethefuture programme, which puts bright energy ideas into action to bring benefits to local communities around the world while inspiring future entrepreneurs to open up access to energy.

The football pitch was refurbished by using more than 90 underground Pavegen tiles that capture kinetic energy created by the movement of the players. The kinetic energy is then stored and combined with power generated by solar panels to operate the new floodlights. This bright energy idea allows the students to play at night and provides a safer and more secure space at the heart of the community.

Music superstar and solar entrepreneur Akon joined Shell to officially open the pitch and continue his commitment to teaching young Africans the importance of harnessing the power of Africa’s renewable energy. The singer 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. As part of the celebration at the Federal College of Education, Akon and DJ Philip ‘Hardwork’ Constable debuted their new song, ‘Tell Me We’re OK’, in an exclusive performance on the pitch before its release later this year. The innovative football pitch will feature in the upcoming music video.

Osagie Okunbor, Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria & Managing Director of The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) said, “Shell makes a significant contribution to energy solutions for Nigeria, and we are committed to supporting the Nigerian economy and its people.

We need bright energy ideas. 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.”

Akon commented, “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. That is why Hardwork and I will feature this pitch in our upcoming video 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.”

Laurence Kemball-Cook, Pavegen founder and CEO and Shell LiveWIRE UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist in 2011, said, “Our work with Shell has been pivotal to Pavegen’s growth. We got involved with Shell LiveWIRE and Shell Springboard, and both programmes have really helped us transition from a start-up to a small company with a 25-strong staff and global IP. I’m grateful for all the support Shell has given us, and hope we can continue to grow in the smart city future.”

This is the second such installation of a player and solar powered community football pitch that Pavegen has worked on with Shell. In 2014, the partnership delivered the world’s first player powered community football pitch, launched by world football legend Pelé, in the Morro da Mineira favela in Rio de Janeiro. The football pitch, a key part of life for the community, was refurbished by Shell using 200 Pavegen tiles fitted under the astro turf pitch. As well as enabling football to be played in the evenings, the lighting gives everyone in the favela, and especially young people, a safe and secure community space at night.

A GB £1,000 (US $1,400) Grand Ideas Award from Shell LiveWIRE UK enabled Pavegen to develop and grow from its bedsit beginnings employing four people in 2009 to employing 30 staff in offices in London, Australia, Japan and Korea today. Pavegen’s pioneering flooring technology, which converts kinetic energy from footsteps into renewable electricity, has been applied in over 100 projects in more than 30 countries around the world, including in the ‘Walk of Light’ experience at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3, which powers LED lights situated along the walls of a busy corridor, and is being used to raise awareness of energy usage and sustainability issues within the airport. The company is already recognised as one of the fastest growing clean-tech firms in London and its vision is to make Pavegen technology available to every community in the world, establishing it as the market leader in the footfall energy harvesting sector.

Siji O. Olusanya, Provost of the Federal College of Education, Akoka, said, “We have more than 10,000 student teachers, who will benefit from this innovative solution to light our football pitch. They will be the next generation of teachers across Nigeria and they can use their first-hand experience of this pitch to inspire their pupils that they too can work towards developing bright energy ideas that could make a real difference to their community, Nigeria, or even the world. Not only our students, but the community that surrounds us will all get to benefit from this pitch for years to come.”