The winner and first runner-up of Sahara Group’s #TheGreenestLoveofAll Instagram based mobile photo contest have emerged amid fresh commitment by the energy and infrastructure conglomerate to sustain conversations around environmental protection.

The winner, Irene Ishengoma, a teacher at St. Anne Marie Academy, Dar-Es-.Salaam, Tanzania submitted a compelling piece about community-led re-forestation aptly titled ‘Together We Can Overcome Environmental Destruction.’

Temitope Otubusin a resident of Lagos, Nigeria came in second with an emotive submission titled ‘The Butterfly and the Eco-System’.

During a telephone interview, Ishengoma said: “I am so excited. I really want to thank the Sahara Group for giving me this creative experience. I feel more connected to matters concerning my natural environment than I ever have before. I am also looking forward to using my brand new phone to keep the conversation on climate action alive.”

On her part, Otubusin said the competition inspired her to seek ways of championing the climate action cause through photography and advocacy. “I would like to commend Sahara Group for this initiative and believe that more private sector players, the government and civil society should also be part of this campaign. That is the only way we can deliver a sustainable and healthy environment to generations unborn.”

Sahara Group harvested over 330 photos which were eventually shortlisted by top photographers to 10 of what were considered to be the most creative and thematically compelling entries.

The top two pictures were selected after they garnered the most number of likes on @iamsaharagroup – Sahara Group’s Instagram platform – following a vote by liking contest which was open to members of the public. The top 10 entries accumulated a combination of over 8,500 in likes and comments on the Sahara’s Instagram handle

The Head of Corporate Communications, Bethel Obioma said: “We could never have anticipated the level of enthusiasm that greeted the competition. We received entries from different countries and the independent assessors commended the quality of the entries and the depth of the messages in the captions. Sahara Group is already exploring various initiatives to sustain global awareness and action.”

He expressed delight at the unprecedented level of reach and engagement, which included a solidarity message from the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDGF). “Our partner Sahara Group is bringing attention to #SDG13 on climate action across Africa with a photo contest. You can put your creativity at the service of the #2030Agenda. You are invited to join the campaign,” the organisation tweeted from its handle @SDGFund.

“We intend to continue pulling all available levers which can help us broaden the climate change conversation and widen the audience of the people we engage. There is an urgent need for global sustainable collaboration towards saving the planet. The time to act is now,” Obioma added.

The finale of #TheGreenestLoveofAll project will be held at the African Artists Foundation in Lagos this April where enlarged and framed versions of the winning photographs will be exhibited.