Twelve Africans have been shortlisted for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation organised by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng). The shortlisted persons developed engineering innovations in areas such as agriculture, nanotechnology, sanitation, security and mobile applications.
RAEng said applications for the Africa Prize covered all engineering disciplines and came from 15 sub-Saharan countries.
The entrants from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe were tasked with setting up a comprehensive business plan, and will now enter a six month mentoring period to develop their innovations for the commercial market.
The shortlist announced by the RAEng include: Samuel Njugana Wangui– Enabling inter-operability between different mobile networks in a multi-SIM environment (Kenya), Abubakar Surajo–A removable burglar-bar system for emergency exits from buildings (Nigeria), Ernst Pretorius – A fence tampering warning system for farmers (South Africa) and Ian Mutamiri – A mobile device application that teaches children how to read Shona (Zimbabwe).
Others are Chinenye Justin Nwaogwugwu – An affordable multi-purpose degreaser/cleaner (Nigeria), Musenga Silwawa – A precise and regulated fertiliser applicator for small-scale farmers (Zambia), Samuel Malinga – A full-cycle sanitation service to reduce pollution to the environment and prevent diarrheal disease (Uganda), Rujeko Masike – Portable crushing machines for small and medium size mining operations (Zimbabwe), Tolulupe Ajuwape – A mobile application for merchants and customers to make and receive card payments through their phones and tablets (Nigeria), Askwar Hilonga – The integration of nanotechnology and sand-based water filtration for safe drinking water (Tanzania), Oscar Kibazohi –The mechanical pressing of bananas to produce enzyme-free clear banana juice (Tanzania) and Reinhardt Kotzé – An industrial process and quality control system for the fluids manufacturing industry (South Africa).
“During the next six months these shortlisted entrants in the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation will participate in training and mentoring from top business development and engineering experts,” said Chair of the judging panel Malcolm Brinded CBE FREng, a Fellow of the RAEng. “The training will be focused on proving, scaling up and commercialising their engineering innovations.”
Following the six-month period of training and mentorship, three finalists will be invited to present their innovations and an overall winner will be selected to receive £25,000, with two runners-up to be awarded £10,000 each.
The RAEng launched the Africa Prize to encourage engineers across all disciplines in sub-Saharan Africa to apply their engineering skills to develop scalable solutions to local challenges.
The prize celebrates innovation and entrepreneurship, and aims to improve quality of life and stimulate economic development.
The entries demonstrated the huge engineering ingenuity that exists in Africa. “Deciding on the shortlist was extremely difficult as the standard was high, and the entrepreneurial talent was clear to see,” said Malcolm Brinded. “All the shortlisted entrants have innovations with the potential to have a significant, positive impact and will benefit from the networks and entrepreneurial skills gained during the next six months.
Supported by the Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund, Consolidated Contractors Company, ConocoPhilips and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, RAEng said it is “delighted with the response to this first Africa Prize” and is looking forward to the next phase and the next round of applications in April 2015.
Other judges of the Africa Prize are Dr Moses Musaazi from Uganda’s Makerere University and Managing Director of Technology for Tomorrow Limited; Dr Liesbeth Botha, former Executive Director at South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; Stephen Dawson, Chairman of Jacana Partners; Professor Calestous Juma HonFREng, Visiting Professor at MIT and Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School; and Dr Bola Olabisi, CEO of the Global Women Inventors & Innovators Network.