Civil engineer Clement Mokoenene was announced as winner of the SA Chivas Venture IV competition on Friday night. He will represent the country at the finale in Amsterdam in May.
JOHANNESBURG - Engineer Clement Mokoe- nene, whose innovative electricity generation idea won him the SA Chivas Venture IV competition at the weekend, says he is looking forward to representing the country on the world stage in the next few months.

Mokoenene, who is general manager of his civil engineering company Epitome Consulting, invented the Vehicle Energy Harvesting System (VEHS).

The Johannesburg businessman said VEHS worked by installing a specialised rubbery overlay on a road, extracting pressure as cars drove over, and transferred it to a pipeline system on the side of the road, similar to how wind turbines worked.

His invention saw him beating four other contestants in the pitching den and announced as winner of the SA Chivas Venture IV competition on Friday night, taking home R350000 for his business.

The Chivas Venture, launched in 2014, is described as a global search aimed at finding and supporting the next generation of start-ups in order to create a better future for society.

The judging panel agreed that VEHS had the best chance of winning the international leg of the Chivas Venture IV competition to be held in Amsterdam in May, where Mokoenene stands a chance of winning a share of $1million (R11.96m) in business funding.

When asked about how he came up with the VEHS idea, Mokoenene said it all started in 2011 when he witnessed the impact an A380 Airbus had on the runway when landing.

“That got me thinking about the pressure and heat a plane puts on the runway, and from there I looked at our roads and the potholes which are a clear indication of how much pressure they are under.”

This led him to consider ways in which this pressure could be harvested to generate electricity.

The civil engineer said they would do trials in the coming months, adding that VEHS could be implemented on Joburg roads next year.

Chivas Regal South Africa marketing manager Shelley Reeves said the competition showcased South Africa’s diverse entrepreneurial talent.

“Every one of the five finalists had come up with an innovative way to solve a challenge that they had identified in their communities and I am convinced that we will hear more from each of them in the future,” she said.

Mokoenene is expected to attend a week-long accelerator programme at Oxford University in the UK before competing against 28 other global entrants at the finale of the Chivas Venture 2018 in Amsterdam. “Excited doesn’t even begin to describe how I am feeling right now. This is such an amazing opportunity, and I know I will do South Africa proud,” he said.