Finalists for the first Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, Africa’s biggest award for engineering innovation, have been revealed. Established by Royal Academy of Engineering, the engineering innovation prize aims to highlight the importance of engineering in improving quality of life, economic development and to celebrate innovation.
A total of 50 entries from 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa were received. These entries have been cut down to four, with the overall winner to be awarded a grand prize of GBP25,000 (US$38,000) at a ceremony in Cape Town on June 1.
Draadsitter is an innovation by 43-year-old Ernst Pretorius in Pretoria, who got his inspiration during a visit to a farmer friend. Already patented, Draadsitter can detect tampering on fences of up to 800 metres long and set off an alarm.
Pretorius revealed that his innovation will help combat Rhino poaching and is a must-buy for both conservationists and farmers. He adds that the Draadsitter operates on battery power, is not susceptible to harsh weather conditions and can last for up to three years.
Another innovation, Chura, was deveoped by software engineer Samuel Njuguna from Kenya. Samuel’s innovation is a web-based application for Kenyans who own more than one SIM card on different mobile networks and wish to transfer airtime from one SIM to the other or even convert it to cash.
Zambian-born Musenga Silwawa designed an environmentally-friendly precision fertiliser applicator which mimics a walking stick and is a clever way to apply fertiliser directly to plants instead of applying it to an entire field.
The innovation will not only save farm workers time, it could also preserve their health as they will not be bending over in order to place fertiliser by hand.
Finally, Dr. Askwar Hilonga from the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science & Technology in Tanzania, designed a low-cost sustainable water filter system. The solution makes use of sand-based water filters and nanotechnology to remove pollutants and bacteria from water.
This innovation is meant for communities that live near expansive water sources but find themselves paying for expensive, bottled drinking water because the river or lake in their community is polluted.
Africa Prize judge Dr. Bola Olabisi described the finalists as “exemplars of African engineering innovation with remarkable potential”.
The four finalists, including eight others that were shortlisted, are currently taking part in a training and mentorship programme to improve upon their ideas ahead and also to help them turn their innovations into viable business plans.
The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced it is accepting entries for the second Africa Prize for engineers living and working in sub-Saharan Africa. Entries close on the 29th of June.