By COMFORT NJIONYE
The sixth edition of the coveted Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) culminated with a bang as the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) awarded three more African innovators for their incredible innovations.
Out of over 2500 applications, 10 nominees were selected, Aly El-Shafei of Egypt emerged as the Grand Prize winner, Philippa Ngaju Makobore of Uganda as the Second Prize winner, and Dougbeh-Chris Nyan of Liberia winning the Special Prize for Social Impact.
it was also noted that the seven remaining nominees also went home with US$ 5 000 voucher to be used to further develop their innovations.
The winning innovations demonstrated high level of proficiency in energy efficient and healthcare-related solutions
The main obstacle in increasing electricity generation capacity in Africa continues to be the high cost of producing electricity, its currently forcing governments to subsidize consumption. Dr. El-Shafei’s innovation, Smart Electro-Mechanical Actuator Journal Integrated Bearing (SEMAJIB), is a world-class solution that supports energy generating turbines and can be used to improve efficiency and reduce costs of generating energy in Africa.
Meanwhile, inadequate medical solutions to efficiently administer drugs or to diagnose diseases continue to affect the quality of healthcare delivery in many parts of the continent. Makobore’s invention, known as Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed Infusion Set (ECGF) and Dr. Nyan’s multiple disease rapid detection test, both offer ingenious solutions aimed at raising the quality of healthcare provision in Africa.
AIF collaborated with the Government of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) and Ghana@60 Planning Committee to host IPA 2017, which was themed ‘African Innovation: Investing in Prosperity’. H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana, presided over the prestigious awards ceremony, held at Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra Ghana.
Speaking at the ceremony AIF Founder, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, Founder, African Innovation Foundation, said, “This edition of IPA has been all about galvanizing support for African innovators in order to mobilize increased investments to help them commercialize and scale their innovations at a greater rate. AIF has rewarded IPA 2017 for developing solutions that can truly add value to the lives of Africans, and I believe that these innovations have incredible commercial potential and will succeed in attracting the right investments to go to the next stage.”
According to IPA 2017 Chairman of the Jury, Prof Nyasse Barthelemy stated that the deliberation was tough as the quality of innovations were high.in his words “Each of the innovations, in their own respective ways, were winners as they represented local solutions to local challenges. It came down to the wire but we believe we have awarded the most compelling innovations this year. We look forward to seeing what comes next for the incredible innovations from IPA2017 innovators and wish them the very best”.
The patented innovation, SEMAJIB), by Dr. El-Shafei who walked away with the Grand Prize of US$ 100 000, is a smart bearing that significantly improves turbine performance in single line combined cycle plants as well as conventional generator technology. The device is designed to be used to support energy generating turbines more efficiently and cost effectively in Africa
Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed Infusion Set (ECFG) by Philippa, who bagged the Second Prize of US$ 25 000, is designed to accurately administer intravenous (IV) fluids and drugs by controlling the rate of fluid flow based on feedback from a drop sensor.
Dr. Dougbeh, who was awarded the Special Prize for Social Impact of US$25 000, developed a rapid test that can detect and simultaneously differentiate at least three to seven infections at the same time.
Dougbeh is currently working on the second prototype of his innovation after obtaining positive results from his first prototype. His innovation has the potential of being a game changer in the continent under the detection and management of infectious diseases for quality patient-care.
Also at the Awards ceremony, H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana, commented, “As Ghana marks 60 years of independence, there is no opportune time than now to reiterate our nation’s commitment towards investing in innovation-led growth and prosperity. Our decision to partner with the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) to host the 2017 edition of the Innovation Prize for Africa is a result of our commitment to support African innovation not just at a national but at a Pan-African level.
Platforms such as IPA are vital for building stronger synergies amongst key Science Technology and Innovation influencers and stakeholders in Ghana whilst expanding linkages with international partners to promote STI development capacity building, knowledge transfer and forge new partnerships with regional innovation leaders and expand our nation’s innovation footprint.”
The award ceremony welcomed hundreds of entries from outstanding innovators. Innovators from Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe paticipated for the first time, and featured a stronger presence of women than in any of past years.
The exceptional quality of entrants, finalists and winners delighted this year’s judges and made for a thrilling awards celebration night.
IPA has seen tremendous growth in applications and increasing interest from both innovators and innovation enablers over the years. To date, IPA has attracted more than 7500 innovators from 52 African countries, making it a truly Pan African initiative.
The Foundation has supported past winners and nominees with approximately US$ 1 million to move their innovations forward. Due to exposure generated by IPA, past winners have gone on to secure over US$30 million in investments to grow and scale their businesses.