- Engineers from Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda have made it to the Africa Prize shortlist.
- The innovations for 2023 span a range of novel ideas, including fabrics crafted from fungi cultivated on human waste, technological advancements in chicken farming, recycled plastic roof tiles, and an app-driven waste management service.
- These inventive projects contribute to the extensive network of Africa Prize innovators, which now boasts 133 alumni spread across 21 African countries, all dedicated to catalyzing transformative change through locally-driven solutions.
- The culmination of the competition will see four finalists competing for a portion of £60,000, with the ultimate winner receiving £25,000.
Africa Prize has shortlisted 16 innovators, marking the 10th anniversary and featuring representation from eight African nations, including Botswana that is making its debut.
The initiative which was started in 2014 by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK, the Africa Prize serves as a testament to the ambition of engineering innovators in fostering environmental protection and reshaping the continent’s economy with scalable solutions.
Innovators under Africa Prize banner tackling diverse challenges
These ingenious innovators under the Africa Prize banner are actively tackling diverse challenges spanning climate-resilient adaptations for food and water systems, the creation of low-carbon energy and transport solutions, and enhancements in telecommunications, education, financial services, and healthcare on both a pan-African and global scale.
The innovations shortlisted for the 2024 Africa Prize include a diverse range, from recycled plastic roof tiles and early detection systems for agricultural pests and diseases to environmental monitoring tools for chicken farms. Additionally, cutting-edge solutions focus on healthier cooking methods, such as low-smoke briquettes from biowaste, a solar-induction oven and hob, and a biodigester that uses organic waste for gas generation.
The clean energy sector is represented by innovations such as a large-scale power pack crafted from repurposed electric vehicle batteries, a solar dryer to boost small fish farming, and electric motorbikes converted with replaceable batteries. Other notable entries include an automated storage locker, a domestic alert system for the deaf, a plug-in device transforming any screen into a computer, and a healthcare platform integrated with WhatsApp.
Engineering, as a cornerstone of development, plays a pivotal role in advancing all of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, leaving a significant impact on healthcare, education, gender equality, and environmental concerns.
Engineering innovations aligned with African Agenda 2063
It stands as a key driver aligned with the aspirations of the African Agenda 2063, the African Union’s strategic framework for the continent’s development over the next 50 years. This framework envisions an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa, driven by its citizens and holding a dynamic position in the global arena.
Being shortlisted for the Africa Prize provides innovators with valuable support, including business incubation, mentoring, fundraising assistance, and communication guidance. Moreover, they gain entry into the Academy’s extensive global network, connecting them with distinguished engineering and business experts in the UK, Africa, and beyond.
Since its inception, judges, mentors, and expert reviewers associated with the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation have contributed over 4000 hours of support to entrepreneurs—an invaluable resource, equivalent to more than £10.4 million.
“Winning the Prize opened our business up to many opportunities and provided exposure for our solution to the local and international market,” said 2020 Africa Prize winner Charlette N’Guessan from Côte d’Ivoire in 2023, the first woman to win the prize. “I am happy to see the Africa Prize has inspired many young woman innovators to break down barriers.”
From the current shortlist, four outstanding finalists will be selected to showcase their groundbreaking innovations and business plans before a panel of judges at the Africa Prize final in Nairobi, Kenya, scheduled for June 2024.
Further, the winning innovator will be honored with a prize of £25,000, while the three runners-up will each receive £10,000. Additionally, a One-to-Watch award, recognizing the most impactful pitch as voted by the audience, will grant £5,000. Notably, the 2024 audience will include roughly 80 Africa Prize alumni from the past decade.
Impact of Africa Prize alumni spans over 10 million beneficiaries
The impact of Africa Prize alumni is huge, having positively influenced over 10 million beneficiaries through their products or services. Their collective efforts have led to the creation of over 28,000 jobs, with a focus on empowering women and individuals with disabilities. Impressively, they’ve secured over US$39 million in grants and equity funding, making a direct contribution to 15 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Africa Prize judge Sewu-Steve Tawia highlited the vital role played by the 16 innovators shortlisted for this year’s prize, noting their contributions to key Sustainable Development Goals. Their determination to address local challenges, foster job creation, and scale innovations across Africa sets them apart. As the Africa Prize celebrates its tenth year, it takes pride in showcasing these local changemakers as global engineering innovators.
The shortlisted Engineering innovations and entrepreneurs:
- Beba-Beggie, Charles Oduk, Kenya – An Internet of Things (IoT) automated locker technology providing affordable, accessible, secure, and convenient short-term storage.
- Biomass Briquettes, Ludo Ntshiwa, Botswana – An eco-friendly clean fuel utilizing the green energy from biowaste to generate a renewable heat source as an alternative to charcoal.
- Early Crop Pest and Disease Detection Device, Esther Kimani, Kenya – A solar-powered device employing AI- and machine learning-enabled cameras to identify and detect agricultural pests and diseases in the early stages.
- Eco Tiles, Kevin Maina, Kenya – An environmentally-friendly roofing material made from recycled plastic.
- Kiri EV, Christopher Maara, Kenya – An end-to-end affordable and clean energy mobility provider, from electric motorcycles, scooters and tuktuks to battery charging infrastructure across Kenya.
- Knock Knock, Esther Mueni, Kenya – A home alert system designed for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, utilizing a highly sensitive vibration sensor to detect knocks on a door and transmit the information to smartphones via Bluetooth.
- Kuza Freezer, Purity Gakuo, Kenya – A durable affordable solar-powered fridge-freezer crafted from recycled plastic waste.
- La Ruche Health, Rory Assandey, Côte d’Ivoire – A intelligent healthcare platform offering remote communities direct access to crucial healthcare information through WhatsApp, arranging appointments with verified medical practitioners, and digitizing medical records to streamline patient onboarding.
- MakSol Cooker, Paul Soddo, Uganda – An affordable solar-powered induction oven and hob engineered for safe, emissions-free indoor cooking in off-grid communities.
- MAVUNOLAB Solar Dryer, Dr Evodius Rutta, Tanzania – An inexpensive solar-powered dryer designed to assist small-scale fish processors and farmers in off-grid areas by improving food safety and hygiene for perishable food products.
- Microfuse Stick Computer, Ivan Karugaba, Uganda – A compact and cost-effective device that can be plugged into any screen, projector, or monitor to convert it into a Wi-Fi-connected computer, enhancing computer access and promoting digital inclusivity.
- Myco-Substitutes, Abubakari Zarouk Imoro, Ghana – An environmentally friendly sewage treatment employing viruses, bacteria, and fungi to process and consume fecal waste while generating substitutes for yarn and leather.
- PenKeep, Adaeze Akpagbula, Nigeria – A climate-smart remote sensing device designed to monitor and regulate environmental conditions in poultry farms, ensuring optimal health and productivity for chickens.
- Second-Life Batteries, Léandre Berwa, Rwanda – A solution that repurposes retired electric vehicle (EV) batteries, assembling them into a backup power source for telecom towers and mini electricity grids.
- The Kitchen Box, Tunde Adeyemi, Nigeria – A cost-effective biogas digester technology that transforms various organic waste into animal feed and organic fertilizer while producing clean energy for heating and cooking.
- Yo-Waste, Martin Tumusiime, Uganda – A geographically-targeted mobile app designed to link homes and businesses with freelance agents, facilitating a streamlined on-demand waste collection and disposal service.