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Innovator and Founder of Optim Energy, Jeremiah Thoronka has been featured in Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 list for his success and impact in the Climate Change and Sustainability (Social Impact) sector.

Jeremiah first discovered an interest in renewable energy and climate change during his teenage years in Sierra Leone. At that time, burning charcoal and firewood were the only sources of light and heat and he recognised the impact it had on health and children’s progression. Jeremiah joined our Department of Anthropology in September 2021 which provided an opportunity to learn how anthropological ideas and approaches are vital for understanding the environmental, social and economic crises of the contemporary world.

A cleaner future for Africa

When Jeremiah was 17, he launched his own start-up called Optim Energy that transforms vibrations from vehicles and pedestrians into a clean renewable energy.

During his time studying an MSc in Sustainability, Energy and Development at Durham, Jeremiah won the first Global Student Prize for a device he developed using kinetic energy from traffic and pedestrians to combat energy poverty. Two of the devices provided free electricity to 150 households (1500 citizens) and 15 schools (9000 students).

Award winning entrepreneur

Throughout his career, Jeremiah has been recognised through various awards including the Chegg.Org Global Student Prize Winner,  Africa Youth Award, a laureate in the Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work – Africa and a feature in the 100 Most Influential Africans list.

Jeremiah’s achievements are driven by his passion for impact and highlight his ongoing commitment to creating locally sustainable solutions, engaging youth in Sustainable Development Goals, and pioneering clean energy systems.

Other previous Forbes 30 Under 30 awardees

We’ve also had other alumni on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list including Engineering Alumnus Will Smith from Ilkley in 2022 and Durham Law School Alumnus Leon Y. Xiao from Copenhagen in 2023.

If you're a Durham alumni and you'd like to share your story - get in touch

Find out more

  • Read more about the work of Jeremiah Thoronka
  • Our Department of Anthropology is ranked 28th in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2024. Visit our Anthropology webpages for more information on our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

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