Brian Gitta and team, Uganda, WINNER
Matibabu is a device which tests for malaria quickly, accurately and without having to draw blood. Matibabu, which means ‘medical centre’ in Swahili, is a low cost, reusable device that clips onto the user’s finger. Without requiring any expertise to operate, the results are shown within one minute on a mobile phone that’s linked to the device. Matibabu uses red light to detect changes in the shape, colour and concentration of red blood cells, all of which are affected by malaria.
Of the 400,000 deaths globally due to malaria, 90% are in sub-Saharan Africa, mostly in children below five. Malaria kills more children under five in this region than HIV.
All available tests for malaria require blood samples which are invasive, expensive and time-consuming. Brian and his colleagues decided to develop the device after missing lectures, having had malaria several times. Matibabu is aimed at individuals, health centres and diagnostic suppliers. The team also aims to set up the device on the streets to allow people to buy a single test at a time.
Collins Tatenda Saguru, South Africa, FINALIST
Collins Saguru has developed a process to affordably recover the precious metals found in autocatalytic converters of petrol and diesel vehicles. An autocatalytic converter reduces the toxicity of gases emitted by the exhaust pipes. They contain the Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) - platinum, palladium and rhodium. These are all valuable and useful for industrial processes, and on the European Union’s Critical Materials List.
Saguru dismantles used autocatalytic converters, crushes and leeches them before extracting the PGMs. Aluminium and cerium are also extracted during this process.
Other recycling methods do exist, but require high heat. Saguru’s method uses much lower temperatures, which makes the process more affordable and emits fewer toxic gasses. His process uses chemical reagents which are cheap, relatively common and environmentally friendly.
Ifediora Emmanuel Ugochukwu , Nigeria, FINALIST
The Intelligent Meter (iMeter) and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) gives consumers and power utilities control over how electricity is used. The smart meter measures energy usage and connects to cell phones or computers that have the AMI software on them. These applications give consumers the ability to manage their smart meters remotely. They can monitor power usage, set budgets, disconnect their meters and make payments. For people with limited internet access, select services can be accessed through text.
More than 30% of meters in Nigeria are tampered with or bypassed, and power utilities resort to bill estimation when this happens. This has reduced access to electricity because consumers who feel that their bills don’t correspond to their usage have been disconnected.
The iMeter and AMI system means that consumers are billed only for the energy they use. The system detects tampering and notifies the power utilities. This discourages vandalism of power equipment, improves power supplies for communities and reduces deaths by electrocution.
Power utilities can pay a fee for data and real-time analysis provided by the system. The affordable system also allows two-way communication between consumers and utilities.
Michael Asante-Afrifa and team, Ghana, FINALIST
Science Set is a mini science lab which contains materials needed for science activities and experiments. It is the size of an average textbook, fitting easily into a school bag and on a school desk. Science Set contains 45 different parts including circuit boards, wires, an electromagnet and mini lightbox to perform 26 experiments which are part of the primary and junior high school syllabus. A manual with clear instructions is included.
A 2015 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that out of 76 countries, Ghana and South Africa ranked the lowest in science education. Science Set aims to solve the lack of practical science education in Africa and inspire learners to pursue science after school.
The kit is easy to use, quick to set up and designed to seamlessly integrate into the classroom. To date, 110 teachers have already been trained on how to use Science Set effectively. Science Set is affordable, and 2,000 kits have already been sold, with an additional order for 1,000 sets from a single school.
AEON Power Bag
Shalton Mphodisa, South Africa
The AEON Power Bag allows its users to charge their phones and tablets on the go by converting radio or telecommunication waves and solar energy into power. The lightweight backpack contains a unit which harvests radio waves in the surrounding environment and converts them to electricity. When radio signals are low, the solar charging unit kicks in. The bag is also capable of inductive charging when placed against an inductive charging power mat – increasingly found in airports and restaurants.
The energy generated is stored in a battery, similar to a power bank, and the user can charge their devices anywhere, anytime by plugging in to the unit using a USB cable. The battery pack charges in under 90 minutes when the radio wave, solar and inductive units are working at their optimum.
The AEON Power Bag is made from locally sourced renewable and reusable materials.
Nnaemeka Chidiebere Ikegwuonu and team, Nigeria
ColdHubs are solar powered walk-in cold rooms that extend the shelf-life of perishable foods from two to 21 days. According to the Rockefeller Foundation, in developing countries like Nigeria, 45% of food is lost due to the absence of cold storage. This leads to a 25% loss of annual income for smallholder farmers.
The ColdHubs are 3 x 3 metres and have solar panels on the roof. Each hub can store up to 3 tonnes of food arranged in 30 kg crates. They use natural refrigerants, which minimises the environmental impacts of the cooling. The ColdHubs are installed at markets and farm co-operatives. Farmers and retailers can rent space in the cold-hubs and only pay per crate of food stored per day. Excess solar power is stored in batteries to ensure the hubs are kept cold at night and in bad weather.
ColdHubs already has 287 customers using the five hubs that have been installed at different sites in Nigeria.
Esther Gacicio, Kenya
eLearning Solutions (ELS) offers courses to anyone, anywhere through any internet-enabled device. The app allows for self-paced learning, group classes, access to tutors, or learning through games and videos. It also hosts custom-made courses for organisations wanting to use it as an online training platform.
ELS has an extensive range of ready-to-use courses aimed at meeting the learning needs of communities. This includes people who have completed high school or university and are looking for courses to prepare them for work, or give them skills to start their own businesses. Some of the courses include ICT literacy, entrepreneurial skills and online and social media marketing.
Institutions and organisations can use the platform to offer training, reducing training costs through the help of an analytics tool which monitors the users’ progress. ELS is working with Kenya’s training certification body, NITA, on accreditation for the courses done through the app.
Daniel Taylor, Ghana
HWESOMAME is a low-cost, smart sensor which farmers can use to accurately measure soil conditions. HWESOMAME - which means ‘look after it for me’ in local language Twi - consists of a sensor which is stuck into the ground. The sensor measures the soil moisture, temperature, salinity and levels of organic matter. The data is converted into an easy-to-understand format and sent to the farmer via text or a voice-automated phone call in a local language.
The data helps farmers make decisions on what fertiliser to use, how frequently to water their crops, as well as minimise labour costs and farm visits. Farmers will be able to increase crop productivity by as much as 50% when they use HWESOMAME. Crop quality and profits will also increase.
HWESOMAME is sold to farmers, agricultural businesses, NGOs and government institutions, who are trained on how to use it.
Khainza Energy Gas
Arthur Woniala, Uganda
Khainza Energy Gas is an affordable, clean biogas product that is safe to use for cooking, lighting and heating. Made from manure or food waste and sold in cylinders, the chemical treatment process removes dirt and increases the purity of the biogas to 98%. This makes the gas highly efficient. Khainza is currently processing 800 kg of waste every week, producing 100 kg of high quality biogas.
The biogas is sold in a 6 kg and 13 kg cylinders which lasts 120 and 250 hours respectively. It costs less than a bag of charcoal to refill the 6 kg cylinder, and lasts as long. Biogas is also 35% cheaper than liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), because all the raw materials are locally sourced.
Up to 94% of Ugandans use firewood and charcoal for cooking. Charcoal prices have risen by 68% since 2000 and are expected to double again in the next 10 years. Woniala recalls his mother chopping firewood every day to cook for him and his siblings, inspiring him to develop Khainza Energy Gas, which is named after her.
Emeka Obewe, Nigeria
Kitovu is an online platform which helps rural and remote smallholder farmers triple their crop yields, and sell their produce. The app links the farmer’s location to a soil database to determine the soil types found on a particular farm. Using that information plus the crop type determines the fertiliser the farmer should use.
A World Development Report puts average yield for maize in Nigeria at 1.2 tonnes per hectare, which according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation is a third of the global average. During a pilot of Kitovu, a yield of 3.9 tonnes per hectare was achieved.
Farmers can buy high-quality fertilisers or seedlings through the app, or use it to sell their produce. If a farmer can’t afford to buy the fertilisers or seedlings, they can pay Kitovu with their produce after harvest.
The app is free for farmers, but suppliers and produce buyers pay to use the platform. Kitovu takes a 5% commission on sales made through the platform. The platform also makes money by selling adverts which are displayed in the app. The app is aimed at farmers who can’t afford soil tests, but want increased yields, a reduction in post-harvest losses and increased income.
Monicah Mumbi Wambugu, kenya
Loanbee is a mobile phone application which offers instant micro-loans to individuals and small businesses who don’t qualify for bank loans. A large proportion of Kenya’s population do not have bank accounts and access to loans despite progress in the financial and technical sectors. Loanbee uses machine learning algorithms to calculate the users’ credit scores using their biodata (age etc), data mined from their mobile transactions, and information from Kenya’s Credit Reference Bureau.
Some of Loanbee’s customers include traders who need money for stock, students who need a textbook, families who need food money, or graduates who need money for transport to job interviews. One of Loanbee’s key selling points is the speed at which its users can get a loan – within 10 minutes for first time users, and within a few seconds for repeat borrowers. The loan can be repaid in instalments within 21 days or a lump sum within 30 days. Customers are charged between eight and 18% interest depending on their risk profile.
In its first four months on the Google App Store, Loanbee served over 200 borrowers with loans totalling US$38,000 (29,000 GBP).
Nges Njungle, Cameroon
Muzikol is an online music marketing and social media application designed to meet all the career needs of musicians. This virtual music world is similar to popular online social media and networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Musicians can use the app to generate revenue by selling their music, merchandise, event tickets, and getting booked directly. They can find jobs through the app and interact with other musicians and their fans.
Muzikol takes a percentage of all money that’s paid through the app. It also undertakes music data mining, and information gathered through the app is provided to record labels at a fee. The app is user-friendly, fast and has a high level of security, making it safe from hackers. Muzikol is built on a framework that will allow it to compete on a global scale.
Peter Kariuki and team, Rwanda
SafeMotos is a mobile app which connects commuters to the safest motorcycle (moto) drivers in Kigali, Rwanda. Commuters use their smartphone to connect them to the nearest moto driver, sharing their pick-up spot using the closest landmark where there aren’t street names.
Sensors on the drivers’ smartphones monitor how well they drive, which gives commuters peace of mind. Drivers that fall below an acceptable level are removed from the app – encouraging them to adopt better driving behaviours. Commuters also rate their experience after each ride. Commuters pay for their rides by loading money onto their SafeMotos wallet using mobile money, credit card or cash.
Motos are a popular form of transport in Kigali because they are fast and cheap. According to the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority, Kigali has 20,000 motorcycle taxi drivers who complete around 200,000 trips daily. In Rwanda, moto accidents are the second leading cause of death after HIV/Aids. Eight out of ten road accidents in Kigali involve motos.
The Sixth Sense
Brian Mwiti Mwenda, Kenya
The Sixth Sense uses technology inspired by bats and dolphins to help visually impaired people ‘see’ what’s in front of them. Animals with poor eyesight use echolocation to detect obstacles. The Sixth Sense is a small, handheld device that uses ultrasonic sensors to do the same. The device vibrates in different ways to warn the user when they’re close to an object. The frequency of the vibrations increase as the user gets closer to an object.
Visually impaired users can also notify someone when they are in distress. A push of a button sends a text with their location to the pre-set contact.
285 million people globally are visually impaired, including students in Brian’s school. He saw first-hand what their challenges were, and this inspired him to find a way to make their lives easier. Brian is working with members from the Kenya Institute for the Blind to make sure the product is as user-friendly and affordable as possible.
Okettayot Lawrence, Uganda
Sparky Dryer is a low-tech dehydrator which dries fruits and vegetables to extend their shelf life from two days to two years. The dryer, which looks like a filing cabinet, is powered by organic waste like leaves and branches.
Agriculture is the main source of income in large parts of Africa. In Uganda, poor preservation and storage, and time-consuming, unhygienic dehydration methods means that 45% of produce is lost post-harvest. Sparky Dryer will reduce this to below 20%, while maintaining the nutrients in the food.
Sparky Dryer removes moisture from foods five times faster than electric dryers and 10 times faster than open sun drying. It’s also three times less expensive to buy than electric dryers and more reliable, clean and convenient than open sun drying, which is weather dependent. Up to 100 kg of produce can be dried within five hours using only 2 kg of biofuel. Sparky Dryer is fitted with a catalytic converter to ensure that no harmful gases are released during the drying process.
Alvin Leonard Kabwama, Uganda
UriSAF and the Uriscope quickly and accurately tests urine to pick up on infections. The Uriscope uses pH and infrared sensors to test the urine. Within three minutes, the results are sent to the UriSAF mobile app which displays the diagnosis in English or one of four Ugandan languages. The results can be saved to the cloud or shared with a doctor. Kabwama’s system can detect health issues like urinary tract infections (UTIs), dehydration, diabetes and kidney failure.
Team mate Stephen Kalyesubula’s aunt died while giving birth, and following her death an undetected UTI was discovered. The tragedy inspired the engineers to create a solution to improve access to healthcare for women.
The World Health Organisation estimates that more than half a million women die during pregnancy every year. In rural sub-Saharan Africa, 90% of pregnant women don’t get access to antenatal healthcare during their pregnancy.
The 2018 Africa Prize shortlist: in brief