African innovators have excelled at this year’s Zayed Sustainability Prize annual awards ceremony, winning three out of five categories in a globally recognized competition, which attracted over two thousand applicants from 130 countries.
This year’s Zayed sustainability prize saw the highest number of applications come from Africa, an indication that African innovators are playing a pivotal role in global innovation as Africa won prizes in the Energy, Food and Global High Schools categories.
The surge in African innovators and dominance in the Zayed Sustainability Prize is a boost to Africa because these innovators address real-life social, environmental, health and economic challenges that are widespread across the continent.
Tanzania’s Sanku, a non-profit organization that reaches out to communities vulnerable to malnutrition won the food prize award at the 2019 Zayed sustainability prize. The NGO scooped the prize for its flour fortification machines that equip and allow small-scale, local millers to fortify their flour with life-saving nutrients.
The N.G.O has currently installed 150 fortification machines in flour mills across five East African countries, impacting the lives of almost one million people daily by providing them with safer and healthier food sources.
Felix Brooks-Church, Co-founder & CEO of Sanku, while commenting on the win said: “16,000 children die every day from illnesses that are absolutely preventable. We have a solution, and so we have the duty to keep fighting in order to reduce that number to zero.”
The Zayed Sustainability Prize which has five categories saw African innovators win three of the categories with Sanku scooping the award for the food prize category and BBOXX, another African innovator winning the Energy prize.
BBOX, has developed a plug-and-play solar device offering users an on-grid experience in an off-grid setting. The company has installed over 150,000 solar systems across 35 countries many of which are in Africa and has connected over 675,000 people globally with clean, affordable energy solutions.
Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and co-founder of BBOXX, said on winning the Prize: “We are passionate about harnessing pioneering data and technology to power economic growth and transform the lives of underserved communities living off-grid. Winning this award is an important milestone along our journey.”
The African Leadership Academy in South Africa won for the global High Schools category, the Academy won for its proposed creation of a water treatment machine called ‘The Living Machine’; a device they designed to treat grey-water for use in greenhouses. The proposal also included the implementation of solar power to cut electricity costs, savings that will be used to fund additional renewable energy projects, waste management and best agriculture practices.
Jesse Forrester, Project Lead of ALA’s Living Machine Project, African Leadership Academy, said: “I am immensely pleased with the announcement. It is quite humbling for us as a team and even more so as an institution. Being recognised as the winners of the Global High Schools Category, for Sub-Saharan Africa, is a testament to the belief that we are stronger together.”
The Zayed sustainability prize is another indication that African innovators have come to the fore as a powerful global force as many entrepreneurs and businesses are creating needs-based, practical and affordable local solutions that are important for Africa’s development.
Dr Lamya Fawwaz, Director of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, said: “In a world of changing climate, and a rapidly growing population, developing sustainable solutions to meet rising food demand and provide energy access to people in remote areas is a global priority. These worthy winners among many strong candidates are perfect examples of how to meet the Prize’s criteria of being innovative, inspirational and offering tangible impact within communities.”
Zayed Sustainability Prize is a global award inspired by the sustainability vision and legacy of the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Winners of each category receive US$600,000 in prize funds to enhance and develop their existing solution.