Photograph — YaliCreatives

The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) announced its top 10 nominees for its Innovation Prize for Africa award (IPA) 2018 who triumphed amidst 3000 applicants for the award across countries in Africa.

Since 2011 when IPA was established, The IPA award has been given to various innovation-driven businesses in Africa. The award is aimed at strengthening the African innovation ecosystem by supporting a culture of innovation and competitiveness likewise enhancing the growth of innovative market-driven African solutions to African challenges.

AIF Chairman Walter Fust says “Now in its seventh year running, we have witnessed multi-million-dollar businesses emerging from the IPA initiative, with health, environment/energy and agricultural innovations leaving imprints across the African continent and beyond. Our theme this year prompts the need for increased collaboration between government, business, industry, innovation enablers and the community to further realise African prosperity and economic freedom.”

The IPA initiative has been an impactful one in the continent as it has grown from strength to strength mobilising, rewarding and honouring top African innovators and building strategic partnerships with innovation enablers to strengthen innovation ecosystem in Africa.

The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) endorsement and exposure generated through the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) also has seen past winners secure around 135 million USD worth of investment to grow and scale their business.

The IPA is an initiative of the African Innovation Foundation whose purpose is to increase the prosperity of Africans by driving innovation spirit in Africa.

With the winners walking away with US$185 000 to improve on their innovations, the top 10 nominees for the 2018 IPA award has their innovation cut across various sectors which are agribusiness, public health and wellbeing, ICT, energy, environment and water.

Juslain Nomenjanahary Raharinaivo (Madagascar) Biodegradable seed tray for rice farming:

This innovation is such that seeds are sowed in innovative pots made of paper, called BG or biodegradable germinators. Growers transplant these seedlings into clumps with a very high tilling capacity which increases rice yields and allow possibilities to expand the area under cultivation. With rice being a staple food in many African countries and an ongoing demand for increased rice production, this innovation could bring ease and improved rice production into the continent.

Mr Wassim Chahbani (Tunisia) Buried Diffuser:

The Buried Diffuser saves irrigation water, energy, and use of fertilizers hence reducing zero water waste through evaporation. Water is injected directly to the roots, radically reducing water consumption levels used for irrigation.

Irrigation systems play a major role in sustaining livelihoods in Africa and the world all over. Water in agriculture is critical for crop yields, and reducing consumption is necessary to increase the amount of available water for other uses.

Professor Abdeladim Moumen and Dr Hassan Ait Benhassou (Morocco) Efficient detection of TB and Hepatitis C:

Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis (TB) are critical health burdens in Africa. Besides lack of available treatment, access to accurate and cost-effective diagnostic tests remains a challenge across the continent. This innovation comprises two molecular tests for the rapid, accurate and effective detection and load quantification of both diseases. The technology allows specific detection of the hepatitis C or TB genome in blood or sputum samples; tests are clinically validated, simple, accurate and low cost.

Abraham Natukunda (Uganda) eNose sensor for tea processing:

This innovation applies an “eNose” and analytics platform to supplement current tea processing procedures using low power sensor devices to determine optimum levels of tea fermentation.

An analytics platform receives and analyses the sensor data, providing real-time monitoring of key reactive elements and compounds during the tea-processing period, ensuring efficient traceability, prediction, and motion. This innovation will lead to improved control results in better tea quality, boosting marketability and increased revenue for tea processors from each bushel of tea harvested.

Dr Laud Anthony Basing (Ghana) Incas Vaginal Discharge Kit:

Incas Vagkit is a 3-in-1 urine-based test kit that examines vaginal infections. Linked to a mobile application, it offers a convenient and fast solution for women experiencing vaginal infections. The Vagkit simply requires a urine sample and can be used at home; results are available within 10 minutes. This innovation drastically reduces testing time for vaginal infections in Africa, leading to the efficient and quick detection and management of vaginitis.

Dr Diana Yousef (Egypt) “iThrone” portable toilet:

This technology innovation is a disruptive yet low-cost composite polymer membrane that essentially “shrink-wraps crap” aggressively evaporating or “flushing” the full water content of daily sewage output without the need for added heat, energy or flush water. This innovation responds to the problem of poor sanitation and health conditions, as well as pollution caused by sewerage. iThrone cuts off a significant amount of methane emissions that are generated by unmanaged/uncollected sewage.

Henri Nyakarundi (Rwanda) Mobile Shiriki Network:

The Shiriki Hub is a Smart Solar Kiosk, powered by strong solar panels and equipped with large capacity batteries, Internet of things (IoT) sensors, and a custom designed router, offering device charging, virtual top-ups, and low-cost connectivity. Designed as a business-in-a-box and distributed on a micro-franchise basis, it is an ideal solution for digital connectivity to rural populations and temporal settlements such as refugee camps.

Prof. Keolebogile Shirley Motaung (South Africa) Natural solutions for skeletal regeneration and repair:

A multi-method approach using natural products for skeletal regeneration and repair. La-Africa Soother (LAS) is a topical paste ointment for sportspeople as a natural anti-inflammatory cream to treat pain and inflammation. The second product which is Plant-Based Morphogenetic Factor Implant (PBMF) induces bone and cartilage formation. Treatment of fractures has been a continuous challenge for orthopaedic surgeons. The latter product differs from knee replacement, autografts and allografts, offering quick results with no waiting period and no harvesting of tissue, with relief and safety for patients.

Dr Fohla Mouftaou (Benin) Reducing pollution in an eco-friendly way using GKSORB:

Water hyacinth is an environmental threat in many African countries, invading lakes, rivers, and agricultural fields. The threat affects agriculture, the fishing industry, health and livelihood. GKSORB is an organic and biodegradable fiber with the potential to absorb up to 17 times its weight. Made from water hyacinth, it can be used as a separator for hydrocarbons or as a cleaning agent for surfaces contaminated by various pollutants such as hydrocarbons, acids and paints.

Christian Mwijage (Tanzania) Waxy II Technology:

This company recycles and transforms post-consumer waste plastic into durable and environmentally friendly plastic lumber using a chemical-free and energy conserving technology called “Waxy ӀӀ technology” for building, construction and furniture production. Every year, more than nine million tonnes of plastic garbage ends up in the ocean causing a major threat to marine life and people. Plastic timber is an affordable alternative to wood timber and reduces the need for building material manufactured from wood, preserving forests, cutting down on deforestation and mitigating the effects of climate change.

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