Africans are ingenious, resourceful, and possess expert craftsmanship. This skill set has led to the development of many impeccable inventions. A lot of these innovations, however, do not get to the limelight. Local innovators often lack a platform to showcase their works. Nothing gives us a sense of purpose like spotlighting positive African news.
According to the Global Innovation Index 2021 report, Rwanda is the new innovation leader among low-income countries in Africa. The report also mentioned that Mauritius, South Africa, and Kenya are the top three innovators in Sub-Saharan Africa. This innovation and platform imbalance is the reason behind the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize.
Royal Academy of Engineering 2021 Innovators and their Ideas
In 2021, the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation featured everything from digital platforms to 3D printed orthopedic equipment and a piece of biowaste equipment that supports income generation. The 2022 edition reveals innovators like Virtue Oboro, Divin Kouebatouka, and Norah Magero who are showcasing extraordinary innovative talents.
#1. Virtue Oboro
Oboro is a Nigerian innovator. Her product, Crib A’Glow, is designed to provide treatment for infants suffering from jaundice. It was developed by Tiny Hearts Technology, a company that Oboro started with her husband. It features a small-sized phototherapy crib powered by solar panels.
Jaundice affects about 60% of newborns worldwide. The disease also accounts for over 100,000 deaths annually. Oboro’s innovation seeks to counter this by utilizing light rays produced from led bulbs. This special light is better absorbed by a baby’s body. The design also functions for extended periods, thanks to its unorthodox power supply.
The Crib A’Glow enables faster jaundice treatments. Therefore, it ensures the faster discharge of patients. This frees up space for more admissions at local health centers. The design is relevant in communities with an erratic power supply because it has its own power source.
#2. Divin Kouebatouka
Kouebatouka is an innovator from the Republic of the Congo. The basis of his design is the hyacinth plant. According to him, the plant, sometimes called “the curse”, is fast-spreading in Congo and many waterways in Africa.
Therefore, he and his team at Green Tech Africa decided to research how to turn the hyacinth stem into a useful fiber. They found out that the hyacinth stem possesses nitrate, protein, and a high absorbency quality. After processing, it becomes useful for sucking up spilled oil from the ground or water sources. Their finished product is already on demand by more than ten companies looking to resolve oil leaks and spillage.
#3. Norah Magero
Magero, an engineer from Kenya, is another top innovator at the Africa Prize for Engineering and Innovation 2021. Her innovation brings together engineering and energy management through the development of efficient vaccine storage.
The storage innovation comes in form of a fridge. It has a pull-up handle, four tiny rollers, and a solar-fitted lid. The innovation was developed by Drop Access which Magero also started. VacciBox works by storing vaccines safely and in precisely required temperatures using accurate data monitoring sensors. A backup battery system also functions with the setup to store solar energy, helping the fridge function for longer hours.
Magero’s VacciBox costs approximately £680. It was first launched in Merrueshi village health center which caters to over 40,000 indigenes. The Usungu dispensary in Makueni county was also selected to test the product. The result from both tests shows that the VacciBox helped increase the vaccination rate by about 150%.
About the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation
The Royal Academy of Engineering is the sponsor of the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. Now in its eighth year, the prize promotes publicity and support for local innovations that solve important challenges in a given community in Africa. Specifically, the innovation prize targets engineering projects. This is because the organizers believe that it is the key to building a better world.
The prize event usually starts with an online application portal open to the public and continues with sixteen applicants selected for their outstanding design ideas. These applicants enjoy the perks of the program including access to mentoring, seven-month training, and the Academy’s network of high-profile business experts and engineers. The Royal Academy of Engineers then organizes a showcase event where the finalists present their ideas to a panel of judges. The most outstanding innovator wins prize money to the tone of £25,000.