African engineers compete for £25 000 prize with solar power, jackets and wheelchairs


Inventors from eight African countries have been selected to compete for the 2016/17 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The awards seek out inventors and engineers that tackle some of the African continent’s problems including the effects of climate change, access to renewable energy sources and disease. Last year’s winner Arthur Zang has received government support since his Cardio Pad, a medical tablet used in rural clinics to send cardiac tests to doctors at hospitals in cities, won the award last year.

“Over the years we’ve seen the Africa Prize alumni go on to develop commercially successful and socially disruptive businesses. These are the engineers who will shape Africa, solve development challenges for local communities, and inspire more innovation,” chair of the Africa Prize judging panel Malcolm Brinded said in a statement.

Much like Zang’s solution for medical professionals in rural Cameroon, this year’s inventors offer a number of unique solutions for African societies. The list of all 16 finalists and their inventions follows below:

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  • Achiri Arnold Nji from Cameroon with Safe Travel, a mobile app that helps prevent public transport accidents
  • Alex Makalliwa from Kenya with an electric Tuk-Tuk off-grid charging network
  • Aline Okello from Mozambique with a rainwater harvesting app to improve access to rain harvesting equipment
  • Andre Nel from South Africa with Green Tower, a solar energy micro-grid boiler
  • Brian Turyabagye from Uganda with Mamaope, a biomedical jacket that diagnoses pneumonia
  • Edwin Inganji from Kenya with the Usalama app, which boosts the effectiveness of community policing and speeds up emergency services’ reaction times
  • Fredrick Ouko from Kenya with Riziki Source, an online platform that connects people with disabilities to jobs
  • Godwin Benson from Nigeria with Tuteria, a peer-to-peer platform that connects students to tutors
  • Hindu Nabulumba from Uganda with the Yaaka Network, which connects students, academics and trainers on a single social network
  • James van der Walt from South Africa with the Solar Turtle, a self-contained, off-grid power utility
  • Joel King’ori Kariuki from Kenya with a sisal decorticator that speeds up natural fibre production to help it compete with synthetic fibres
  • Kevin Gacheru from Kenya with the Mkononi Tank Monitoring System to reduce water wastage
  • Lawrence Ojok from Tanzania with the Green Rock Drill, an environmentally friendly drill for small scale mining
  • Peter Mbiria from Kenya with the E-Con Wheelchair, an all-terrain wheelchair that allows users to stand upright, climb stairs and self-navigate
  • Sesinam Dagadu from Ghana with CodeRed, a health management and disease surveillance app that improves emergency response times from ambulances and police
  • Wilfred Fritz from South Africa with an automated solar cooker that tracks the sun and has built-in temperature and timing controls

Now that the shortlist has been announced the finalists will undergo six months of training and mentorship in both business and entrepreneurial skills. Once that has concluded a winner will be announced and they will receive £25 000 in prize money.

Congratulations to all the finalists and best of luck to you all moving forward in this competition.

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