Sixteen talented engineers have been identified for their innovative and inventive capacity, with innovations including a technique for harvesting water from the atmosphere and a language app that allows young children to learn basic numeracy and literacy in their own language.
The entrepreneurial engineers are shortlisted for the 2019 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, with the winner walking away with $32,000, while three runners-up will be awarded around $12,800.
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They’re being recognized as African tech pioneers by the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering. Now in its fifth year, the Africa Prize equips talented engineers with tools and expert advice to take their innovations further and develop them into businesses.
This year there are five women included among the 16 selected engineers, which is an improvement on last year’s list of 16, which included only two women.
Here are 16 of Africa’s most talented engineers who are vying for the $32,000 Africa prize.
Ugandan Anne Rweyora is the engineer behind Smart Havens Africa, a combination of technologies that assist women who are looking to buy their first homes, offering access to funding and cheaper materials with which to build homes, making that first home purchase an affordable and sustainable experience for women in East Africa.
Beth Koigi from Kenya has engineered a technique for harvesting water from the atmosphere in order to provide a new source of affordable, clean drinking water for off-grid communities. Majik Water is a potential game-changer for countries across the globe, as water becomes an increasingly rare resource. The innovation is powered by solar energy and uses non-toxic desiccant materials to generate water from the air, according to CleanLeap.
Chukwunonso Arinze is the Nigerian who created Kaoshi, an online fintech platform that exchanges currencies peer-to-peer instead of through banks, providing a vital service in a faster than usual time frame, securely and at affordable cost, according to Africabusinesscommunities.
Kenyan Collince Oluoch has engineered a health-tech platform that could save thousands of lives and protect the most vulnerable in society. Chanjoplus is an online platform that tracks immunization data, assisting health workers in their efforts to ensure that all children are vaccinated from known illnesses.
Professor Dele Sanni from Nigeria is the engineer behind 3-D-3-P Industrial Dryer, an industrial food dryer that dries grain for livestock feed faster than conventional methods while increasing the nutritional value of food stocks. The invention is a boost for Africa’s most dominant economic sector. An estimated 70 percent of Africa’s people depend directly on agriculture for their livelihood, while agriculture accounts for 15 percent of the continent’s GDP, or over $100 billion annually, according to McKinsey.
Zenafri is an app that teaches toddlers and young children basic language and numeracy skills in their native language. It is the brainchild of Nigerian Elizabeth Kperrun. The app has over 2,500 active monthly users, and has been downloaded more than 120,000 times, according to Zenafri.
Smart Brooder is an invention that is empowering poultry farmers and adding automation to a traditional industry. George Kimani from Kenya is the innovator that has developed a system that effectively automates heating systems according to animals’ ages, making it easier for poultry farmers to achieve success, according to FarmbizAfrica.
Kenyan James Ochuka has developed JuaKaliSmart, an online platform that connects informal artisans, known as “JuaKali”, directly to their customers. This platform empowers the artisans by providing them with access to an interested market, while those wanting their products have an online tool to find what they are looking for.
Kenyan Kenneth Guantai is responsible for Elo-Cart, a battery powered system that recoups energy from motion to self-power hand carts. The technology is currently used by traders, farmers and health workers, according to Ventureburn.
South African Dr Lukas du Plessis has developed a hybrid machine tool that increases productivity, but costs less than traditional machine tools to manufacture. This ingenious invention is called the hybrid five-axis machine tool, and has earned Dr Du Plessis a place on this list.
Zambian Muzalema Mwanza’s innovation focuses on maternity care through the provision of disposable, affordable and comprehensive equipment that helps midwives deliver babies safely. The idea for the Baby Delivery Kits, as they are known, came to Mwanza when she fell pregnant with her first child in 2017 and realised that many expectant mothers could not afford the birth kit items required for them to carry before delivery, according to ZambiaDailyMail.
South African Neo Hutiri is the talented engineer that came up with the concept for Pelebox Smart Lockers, which are secure temperature-controlled smart lockers that dispense medication for people with long-term or chronic conditions, allowing these patients to skip long queues and improve their quality of life, according to Raeng.
WellNewMe is an algorithmic approach to proactively identifying people at risk of contracting non-communicable diseases using maths, statistics and social science research, allowing people to take measures to improve and safeguard their health as a result of the findings. This health tech innovation is down to the hard work and passion of Nigerian Dr Obi Igbokwe. WellNewMe recently won a Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Award in recognition of its benefits, according to IndependentNewspapers.
The Vertical Farm is the result of Ugandan Paul Matovu’s innovative thinking. The invention is basically a ‘farm-in-a-box’ for people in urban areas to make use of and benefit from, with urban waste put to good use in growing high yielding plants. Vertical farming is a growing sustainable trend, as it requires an even smaller footprint and uses water and fertilizer even more efficiently than traditional farming methods, according to Farmersweekly.
Kenya’s Roy Allela has developed an ingenious invention that will help bridge the communication gap between those who understand and use sign language, and those who do not. Sign-IO is a smart-glove that tracks and translates sign language movements into speech in real time, allowing for a flowing ‘conversation’ between two people who previously could not communicate with ease, according to Techmoran.
Safiatou Nana from Burkina Faso has invented a solar irrigation system that uniquely caters for semi-arid areas where precision and efficiency are essential. SolarKoodo combines renewable energy solutions with internet of things technology to build affordable and efficient products that empower smallholder farmers, according to LinkedIn.