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. All 12 shortlisted entrants will receive six months of training and mentorship. Three finalists will go forward to a high profile event in summer 2015, where a winner will be selected to receive £25,000, and two runners-up will be awarded £10,000 each.
A Simple Solution: Multi-network mobile phone service
Samuel Njugana Wangui, University of Nairobi, Kenya
In Kenya, where this innovation originates, most mobile service users have at least two SIM cards to ensure signal strength across different carriers.
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 & 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
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
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
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
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.
Celebrating African Innovators,
Courtesy of Royal Academy of Engineering