The 6th edition of the prestigious Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA2017) which took place in Accra Ghana from 17th to 18th of July 2017 came to an end with the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) awarding three more African innovators for their incredible innovations.
Out of the total of over 2500 applications, 10 nominees were selected, and from these Aly El-Shafei of Egypt emerged as the Grand Prize winner, with Philippa Ngaju Makobore of Uganda landing the Second Prize, and Dougbeh-Chris Nyan of Liberia winning the Special Prize for Social Impact. Each one of the seven remaining nominees also went home with US$ 5 000 voucher to be used to further develop their innovations. Moreover, all nominees and winners will benefit from IPA post prize activities aiming at moving their innovations to the next level.
“This edition of IPA has been all about galvanizing support for African innovators in order to mobilize increased investments to help them commercialize and scale their innovations at a greater rate. AIF has rewarded IPA 2017 for developing solutions that can truly add value to the lives of Africans, and I believe that these innovations have incredible commercial potential and will succeed in attracting the right investments to go to the next stage,” said AIF Founder, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais.
IPA 2017 Chairman of the Jury, Prof Nyasse Barthelemy explained that the deliberation was tough as the quality of innovations were high. “Each of the innovations, in their own respective ways, were winners as they represented local solutions to local challenges. It came down to the wire but we believe we have awarded the most compelling innovations this year. We look forward to seeing what comes next for the incredible innovations from IPA2017 innovators and wish them the very best.”
The patented innovation, Smart Electro-Mechanical Actuator Journal Integrated Bearing (SEMAJIB), by Dr. El-Shafei who walked away with the Grand Prize of US$ 100 000, is a smart bearing that significantly improves turbine performance in single line combined cycle plants as well as conventional generator technology. Patented in the US since 2010 with another patent pending, the device is designed to be used to support energy generating turbines more efficiently and cost effectively in Africa. SEMAJIB is an innovation that does not currently exist in the West, and already Siemens’ has indicated interest in the device. A world class innovation originating from Africa, SEMAJIB reverse Africa’s image as a technology consumer to technology producer. Production of these bearings in Africa will also generate jobs and increased revenue for Africa.
Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed Infusion Set (ECFG) by Philippa, who bagged the Second Prize of US$ 25 000, is designed to accurately administer intravenous (IV) fluids and drugs by controlling the rate of fluid flow based on feedback from a drop sensor. It is easy to operate and has key safety features, which include alarms for rate of infusion (rapid or slow), total volume (over or under) and faulty sensors. A battery utilizing a hybrid (AC mains and solar) charging bed powers the device. IV infusions are critical for both adults and children in various situations. Over 10% of children admitted to East African hospitals need immediate infusion therapy. Findings from the FEAST trial indicate that over-infusion in children increased the absolute risk of death by 3.3 percent at 48 hours. Erroneous delivery rates can result into serious adverse effects. The ECGF has the potential to save lives by providing accuracy and safety at 8% the cost of a brand new infusion pump.
Dr. Dougbeh, who was awarded the Special Prize for Social Impact of US$25 000, developed a rapid test that can detect and simultaneously differentiate at least three to seven infections at the same time. His diagnostic test is fast and easy to use in any setting and is able to detect and distinguish multiple infections which bear the same symptoms for instance, when a patient has yellow fever, malaria, and Ebola. Whereas most testing methods take three to seven days, this device gives test results in ten to forty minutes. Dougbeh is currently working on the second prototype of his innovation after obtaining positive results from his first prototype. The results have been validated with human clinical samples, peer-reviewed and published in several respected scientific journals such as ‘Nature-Scientific Reports.’ His innovation has the potential of being a game changer in the continent in the detection and management of infectious diseases for quality patient-care.
The event which is under the support of the president of Ghana, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) and Ghana 60 Years On Planning Committee in partnership with the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) brought the country’s top innovation leaders together at a roundtable to discuss the important opportunities in supporting local innovation.