A low-cost sustainable water filtration system has won the first ever Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation awards held last night in Cape Town.

Organised by UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering, the competition seeks to highlight the role engineering plays in improving our quality of life, economic development and to celebrate innovation in the sector.

The winner of the award, Tanzanian chemical engineer Dr Askwar Hilonga, was among four competitors – the latter hailing from South Africa, Kenya and Zambia – chosen out of 50 entries to compete in the finals.

His $130 sand-based water filter is an upgraded version of the traditional sand-filter method used to clean water that uses nanotechnology to absorb contaminants such as heavy materials, bacteria and pesticides found in bodies of water.

The filter can serve communities who have little or no access to clean and reliable water sources by providing water that is suitable for consumption.

Hilonga received £25 000 (around R460 000) which will go towards growing his business.

“This is a solution, now my community and the whole Africa have the possibility to stop typhoid, to stop cholera, and stop waterborne diseases by using a low cost nano filter,” Hilonga said.

Also among the four finalists was South African engineer, Ernst Pretorius from The University of Pretoria who designed the “Draad-Sitter”, an 800m long fence-mounted security alarm system that can detect fires and fence-tampering by intruders,

Pretorius created the system as a solution to help fight rhino poaching which is on the rise in parts of Southern Africa, particularly here at home.

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Ernst Pretorius (via Twitter)

Entries for the 2016 edition of the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation are already open. Shortlisted candidates will be mentored and trained over a period of six months, after which finalists will be announced and compete in the final showdown. Applications close at midnight on the 29th June and must be submitted through the Royal Academy of Engineering website.

[Source – Royal Academy of Engineering via SABC news]