2016-2017 shortlist for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation from the Royal Academy of Engineering aims to stimulate, celebrate and reward innovation and entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa. 16 shortlisted entrants received six months of training and mentorship. Four finalists went forward to a high profile event held in Kenya in May 2017, where a winner was selected to receive £25,000, and three runners-up were awarded £10,000 each.

Traveler 

Arnold Achiri, Cameroon

Traveler is a mobile app which monitors the speed, location and number of passengers on a bus, and alerts the driver and authorities to potential dangers and emergencies. Road accidents are by far the leading cause of death in Cameroon, killing more people than malaria and HIV/AIDS. 

 

Electric tuk-tuks

Alex Makalliwa, Kenya

Tuk-tuks are a popular means of transport in many African cities, and Makalliwa's aim is to make them even more convenient by converting fleets to run on electic motors. These electric tuk-tuks can significantly reduce the economic barrier to electric cars, and reduce the carbon footprint of some of the fastest growing economies in the world.

 

Harvest Rainwater App

Aline Okello, Mozambique

The Rainwater Harvesting App allows users to calculate how much water they could harvest based on the type of roof they have, their location and available tank types in the area. As a hydrologist, Alice has seen so many opportunities if knowledge on appropriate technologies for rainwater harvesting is simply shared.

 

GreenTower Microgrids

Andre Nel, South Africa, FINALIST

GreenTower is a hybrid solar microgrid solution that uses 90% less energy to heat water. It's designed to be scalable, and a single containerised unit typically serves 15 homes. Andre's father inspired him to create the GreenTower when as a pensioner, he couldn't afford a hot bath. He realised that reducing the cost of water heating could make life easier for many people.

 

Mama-Ope

Brian Turyabagye, Uganda

Mama-Ope is a biomedical smart jacket that helps doctors identify pneumonia faster and more accurately. It measures temperature and breathing rate, and compares it to a database of parameters. 27,000 Ugandan children die annually from pneumonia, often because the disease is misdiagnosed. With Mama-Ope the team wants to reduce the margin for human error and help doctors make faster, more accurate diagnoses. 

 

Usalama

Edwin Inganji, Kenya

The free to use usalama app boosts policing and emergency response times by allowing users to effortlessly alert police, emergency services, family members and other users to emergency situations. Edwin loves using programming to create IT solutions to problems Africans face.

 

Riziki Source

Fredrick Ouko, Kenya

Riziki Source is a web platform for employers to tap into the millions of skilled people living with disabilities in Africa, of which up to 80% are without work. Fredrick is incredibly fulfilled to be able to help young people with disabilities overcome the same challenges he has faced.

 

Tuteria

Godwin Benson, Nigeria, WINNER

Tuteria helps students match subjects and budgets to a skilled tutor in their area. The web based platform already has 6,500 approved tutors and 1,250 students. Godwin is passionate about helping other people succeed and as a tutor of nearly 10 years himself, he knows the difference that a platform like Tuteria can make to someone's education.

 

The Yaaka Digital Network

Hindu Nabulumba, Uganda, FINALIST

The Yaaka Network, an online platform paired with a physical device, is a digital environment that allows teachers to tutor remotely, and helps its users benefit from each other's experience and guidance. Everyone is looking for more knowledge, the Yaaka Network combines social media with that hunger to give more people access to a better education. 

 

Solar Turtle

James van der Walt, South Africa

The Solar Turtle is a mobile power station that provides instant electrification wherever it's needed. Housed in a shipping container, the solar panels are folded out and charge batteries inside recycled bottles, which users can plug into their home system.

 

The Sisal Decorticator

Joel Kariuki, Kenya

The Sisal Decorticator is a mechanised peeler which makes it more profitable for natural sisal fibre to be processed, giving the industry a competitive boost in the global market. The innovation is driven by the global demand in the sisal fibre market and widespread concern about the use of non-biodegradable, synthetic products.

 

The Mkononi Tank Monitoring System

Kelvin Gacheru, Kenya, FINALIST

The Mkononi Tank Monitoring System is a solar-powered system that allows the millions of people who use water tanks to ensure that water is not wasted. It monitors water levels, leaks, valves and pumps via a mobile phone app. The Mkononi system allows farmers, families and businesses to use water more efficiently, which is essential in a water-scare country like Kenya. 

 

Green Rock Drill

Lawrence Ojok, Tanzania

The Green Rock Drill is a solar-powered alternative to modern fossil-fuel rock drills. It's easier on the environment and is designed for small-scale, artisanal mining in Tanzania. 

 

The E-Con Wheelchair

Peter Mbira, Kenya

The E-Con Wheelchair is a culmination of many solutions. It can go-off road, climb stairs, allow the user to stand upright and automatically navigate familiar terrain, all while keeping its passenger perfectly level. Peter watched a friend have to use three or four different wheelchairs just to get by. The innovation incorporates all the functionality of different wheelchairs into a single solution.

 

SnooCODE RED

Sesinam Dagadu, Ghana

CodeRed is a logistics app which significantly reduces emergency response times through a custom-made mapping system to help ambulances navigate dense urban areas. Sesinam was asked to help create a system that could track ebola cases during the 2015 outbreak, and from that, CodeRed was born. 

 

Water&Solar100

Dr Wilfred Fritz, South Africa

The Water&Solar100, a sun-tracking water purifier and solar-cooker, is lightweight, portable, tracks the sun automatically, has temperature and timing controls and generates electricity to charge batteries. The Water&Solar100 cooks, purifies contaminated water, has medical applications and generates electrical power. 

 

2016 shortlist for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation

 

Kamata power theft prevention system

Edmand Aijuka and team, Uganda, FINALIST

Electricity theft causes financial losses and disrupts access to power for homes and businesses. Kamata is a system designed to notify power utilities when meters are manipulated or tampered with. It cuts the power supply and sends the location, metre number and type of interference to a control centre. It also enables the control centre to restore power after an incident is resolved.  

 

Mechanical cassava harvester

Professor Emmanuel Bobobee, Ghana

Cassava is a food crop that grows underground across sub-Saharan Africa. It is eaten by more than 800 million people globally, and also used as a biofuel. The labour intensive harvesting of cassava is the biggest constraint to its commercial production. The mechanical cassava harvester is an affordable tractor-mounted implement which turns up the soil to expose the root vegetable without damaging it. It takes five to ten minutes to harvest one cassava plant manually, depending on the softness of the soil. The mechanical harvester can uproot one plant every second. 

 

UjuziKilimo

Brian Bosire and team, Kenya

UjuziKilimo is an analytical system that measures soil characteristics to help farmers understand and quantify soil qualities. Information is collected by an electronic sensor inserted into the ground, which sends it to a central database for analysis. Farmers receive a text message with a guide on the soil, and personalised advice on preferred crop breeds, pest control, current market value of crops, tools required and where to find them. UjuziKilimo is powered by a central database which collects agricultural information from research institutions, universities, and financial markets in order to provide this information to farmers.

 

FasoPro

Kahitouo Hien and team, Burkina Faso

FasoPro is a social venture that makes nutritional products from Shea caterpillars. It is based in Burkina Faso, where half the population live below the poverty line. The shea tree is known for its nuts, which are used in foods and cosmetics. The ‘chitoumou’ caterpillars which feed on the tree are traditionally harvested for three months of the year as a high-protein food rich in Omega 3. FasoPro has developed a breeding system to ensure a year-round supply of the caterpillars, which it processes into a powdered meal supplement to combat malnutrition. FasoPro products also help to protect shea trees by making communities more aware of their value.

 

Managing medical supplies

Bukhary Kibonajoro, Tanzania

This web-based monitoring software is designed to combat the theft of medical supplies across the Tanzanian hospital network. By monitoring medicine inventories at the national medical store and in hospitals, and reporting discrepancies to the Ministry of Health, it cuts healthcare costs and helps ensure medicines are available to those who need them.  

 

MotoCharcoal Briquettes

Dr Mercy Manyuchi and team, Zimbabwe

Bio-briquettes are a cooking fuel made from leftover corn stalks and leaves. They provide a clean source of energy that burn with the same calorific value as charcoal, and could help prevent deforestation by reducing the use of charcoal or firewood. Zimbabwe produces about 480,000 tonnes of corn waste every year, from which bio-briquettes can be produced as an affordable and environmentally-friendly energy supply.

 

Totohealth

Felix Kimaru and team, Kenya, FINALIST

Totohealth is an information system that guides parents through pregnancy and childhood by sending them vital maternal and child health information via text-messages. Text messages are sent to parents twice a week based on when they registered their pregnancy or birth of a child. The messages provide information on nutrition, immunisation, hygiene, breastfeeding, family planning and childhood diseases. Totohealth helps them to identify abnormalities and advise the milestones and changes to expect from infants and toddlers. Parents are registered for the messaging service by hospitals, clinics, community workers or NGOs.

 

Illuminum Greenhouse

Taita Ngetich and team, Kenya

Illuminum is a greenhouse made with local materials. Its solar panel and sensor technology creates a controlled environment in which to grow crops. In doing so, it addresses many of the challenges faced by Kenyan farmers, including climate change, unpredictable weather, pests, crop diseases and old technology. The sensors collect data on temperature, humidity and soil moisture and send this to farmers via text message, allowing them to monitor and regulate their greenhouse without having to be on the farm. Irrigation can also be turned on and off via text message. The system works on all types of phones and the use of solar power makes Illumininum ideal for rural areas with poor access to energy.

 

Tryctor

Olufemi Odeleye and team, Nigeria

The Tryctor is a three-wheeled mini-tractor for small-scale farmers. It can also be used as a mobile generator. Using low-cost local components, it is affordable, easy to maintain, efficient and simple to operate. The three-wheeled Tryctor is manufactured in Nigeria and aimed at small farmers and cooperatives. Its size to power ratio makes it a multipurpose vehicle which can also be used to transport goods. 

 

Standard Microgrid

Matt Wainwright and team, South Africa, FINALIST

This innovation is a self-contained, community managed renewable power grid for rural areas. Power generated by a renewable energy source is stored in batteries and distributed to consumers through the Standard Microgrid. Rather than paying a utility company for electricity by the kilowatt unit, a local Microgrid manger is provided simple tools to manage the grid and distribute subscription credit to community members connected to the grid. Standard Microgrid is able to balance supply and demand to ensure no electricity is wasted and the system is reliable. It does this without needing highly trained personnel to monitor the grid. The system is low-maintenance and robust, which makes it an ideal business model for rural African electrification. 

 

Drylobag

Werner Swart, South Africa

The Drylobag is designed to dry and store grain. Wet grain goes mouldy, but the Drylogbag prevents this by reducing the grain temperature and drying it evenly, even in the high humidity typical of Africa’s most fertile regions. In doing so, the Drylobag prevents loss of food stocks and enables farmers to harvest earlier. This reduces the risk of weather damage and crops being eaten by wildlife, and helps farmers get crops to market earlier.  

 

Cardio-Pad

Arthur Zang and team, Cameroon, WINNER

Cameroon has 50 cardiologists for its 22 million citizens. The Cardio-Pad is a medical tablet that enables heart examinations and diagnosis to be done remotely by doctors and nurses. The Cardio-Pad produces a digitized electrocardiogram (ECG) to assess heart conditions and a patient’s heartbeat. This information is sent by a mobile phone network to a cardiologist, who can interpret the data and send their diagnosis and instructions back to the local doctor or nurse.

 

2014-2015 shortlist for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation

 

A SIMple solution: multi-network mobile phone service

Samuel Njugana Wangui, University of Nairobi, Kenya, FINALIST

In Kenya, where this innovation originates, most mobile service users have at least two SIM cards to ensure signal strength across different carriers. Chura is a web-based system which allows users to move airtime between their different SIMs regardless of carrier, buy airtime from service providers that can be used on any network, send airtime to family members or employees, or exchange airtime for cash.

 

Adaptable safety: removable window burglar-bar system

Captain Abubakar Surajo, Nigerian Army Transformation and Innovation Centre, Nigeria

This new innovation from Nigeria consists of a removable burglar-bar system that enables a quick emergency exit from a building, enhancing safety without sacrificing security. A locking mechanism incorporated into the burglar-bar system can only be opened from the inside. Until unlocked, the bars are impenetrable. This means that users can feel safe and secure within their home or business, without the burglar bars preventing their escape in an emergency. 

 

Mobile payment application

Tolulupe Ajuwape, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

This is a Nigerian innovation which allows merchants and customers to make and receive card payments for products and services using their phones and tablets. Mobile money applications have had great success across Africa, and the application incorporates innovative functionality to take it a step further. This includes issuing receipts by SMS or email, building customer databases for marketing, turning the host device into a point of sale terminal, and storing transaction records via barcodes in a safe cloud-based platform. The business-orientated solution reduces the costs of banking, reduces the risks of cash related crimes, and gets small businesses to record their transactions so they become part of the formal tax-paying sector. The application also has a management tool for business owners to track their inventory and keep basic accounting of expenditure.

 

Mechanical system to prepare clear banana juice

Dr Oscar Kibazohi, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Makerere University, Uganda

Clear banana juice is difficult to produce because pulping ripe bananas produces a highly viscous puree. This innovation from Tanzania uses mechanical mashing of bananas without the addition of enzymes or extraction aids to create clear banana juice. It mirrors the traditional process of kneading a mixture of ripe banana and grass or fibres until the juice oozes out from the pulp. The technology allows for juice-producing banana varieties, which fetch low prices and are being phased out, to be transformed into a more valuable product.

 

Real-time quality control for fluids manufacturing

Dr Reinhardt Kotzé, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa

Flow-Viz This is an industrial system from South Africa (co-developed between CPUT and SP – Technical Research Institute of Sweden) which improves process and quality control in a fluids industrial operation. Its aim is to replace time-consuming off-line measurements in the quality control laboratory with continuous real-time process monitoring that takes place directly in the production line. Currently, operators take fluid samples and conduct time-consuming lab tests to monitor product quality. The innovation consists of a sensor unit, an operator’s panel and software with which to view the analysis of viscosity and flow-profiles. Pilot tests have been conducted on products such as cement grout, food products such as yoghurt, soup, beer and ketchup, bio-chemicals like ethanol as well as detergents, explosive emulsions and paper pulp.

 

Low-cost sustainable water filter system

Dr Askwar Hilonga, The Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, Tanzania, WINNER

This innovation from Tanzania integrates nanotechnology with sand-based water filtration to provide clean, safe drinking water. The process is affordable and sustainable and highly relevant in rural settings across Africa where access to clean water remains a huge challenge.

 

To the point: environmentally-friendly precision fertiliser applicator

Musenga Silwawa, Zambia Agriculture Research Institute, Zambia, FINALIST

Small-scale farmers in Zambia typically apply commercial fertiliser to their crops by hand, which not only results in inconsistent application but is labour intensive and time consuming. This innovation from Zambia is an efficient and consistent fertiliser applicator that eliminates fertiliser wastage and allows farmers to apply fertiliser to targeted spots with one simple action.

 

Latrine systems to improve urban sanitation

Samuel Malinga, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

People living in the Ugandan city of Kampala rely heavily on traditional pit latrines in the absence of flushing toilets. Latrines are easily flooded, which increases the risk of diarrheal disease. This innovation involves several interventions across the process of a properly functioning sanitation system. Appropriate technologies are used to improve pit latrines, to provide an efficient emptying service, to transport and treat faecal sludge and to re-use treated sludge.

 

An even playing field: small-scale crushing machine for sustainable gold mining

Rujeko Masike, Harare Institute of Technology, Zimbabwe

The small to medium mining sector in Zimbabwe has a need for portable ore crushing machines. This innovation scales down jaw and roller machines and incorporates local materials to make affordable, portable and appropriate crushing machines for local miners.

 

Early warning system: precise fence security alarm system

Ernst Pretorius, University of Pretoria, South Africa, FINALIST

Mounted to the wiring posts of a fence, the Draadsitter (Afrikaans for ‘fence sitter’) innovation detects tampering on fences of up to 800 metres. Using sensors, the device warns owners of the location and nature of tampering on their fence, allowing them to react before security is breached. The sensor can also detect fires.

 

Mother tongue: Mobile phone application to teach children local language

Ian Mutamiri, University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

This Android application from Zimbabwe teaches children how to read Shona by improving their syllable-to-sound association. The innovation is specially geared for children with reading difficulties. Known as NatiV, the app focuses on teaching children languages using native speakers whose accent and intonation they recognise. The application could also be used to teach other languages.

 

Low cost biodegradable degreaser for mining, agriculture and manufacturing

Chinenye Justin Nwaogwugwu, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria

This innovation from Nigeria is an affordable, heavy-duty multi-surface and multi-purpose degreaser and cleaner that removes organic and inorganic dirt from washable surfaces. Produced using biodegradable raw materials, it is environmentally-friendly, non-corrosive and non-acidic, and cleans an array of materials without harming them, making it particularly suited to manufacturing, mining, and agricultural applications among others.