Ugandan Scores Among African Innovators

For the first time since its inauguration in 2011, a Ugandan researcher is among the 10 finalists of the celebrated Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) award this year.

Samuel Otukol, a researcher at Makerere University, developed a water distillation system and process, which proposes an alternative source of viable drinkable water in areas of water shortage or where only sea water is available. Salty water is evaporated at low temperatures (30 to 50 degrees Celsius) and then condensed into fresh water at lower costs than incurred using reverse osmosis.

The proposed process can also use solar energy in remote areas. It helps water shortages in drought-stricken areas, or where existing desalination methods have proved ineffective.

The prize winner is guaranteed a grand share prize of $ 150,000 (Shs 446m). The awards ceremony will be held from May 12 to 13 in Skhirat, Morocco, with King Mohammed VI as chief guest.

Other contenders include Adnane Remmal from Morocco, who patented an alternative to livestock antibiotics. This is a composition of natural phenolic molecules with anti-microbial (anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal) properties. The natural, innovative formula reduces the health hazards to cattle and humans, and prevents the transmission of multi-resistant germs and possible carcinogens through meat, eggs and milk to humans at no extra cost to farmers.


Alex Mwaura Muriu from Kenya developed Farm Capital Africa, a risk-sharing agri-business funding model that draws in investors for a share of farming profits. This initiative also identifies, screens and shortlists full-time farmers with small holdings and helps them devise farming plans to attract potential investors who earn profits over time.

David Gluckman, from South Africa, developed a fire detection device and alert service that uses radio frequency (RF) transmission technology suitable for informal dwellings. In the event of a fire, the device triggers an alarm, within 20 seconds, to alert the family. The alarm can be heard in a 60-metre radius to elicit a communitywide response to the fire.

Jean Bosco Kazirukanyo of Burundi developed a new type of cement, “OSP”, that protects waters against carcinogenic lubrication oil spills. A new formulation of cement that can be sprinkled on fresh or old lubricant and oil spills. The cement chemically reacts with the contaminants to form tiny lumps that can be easily removed and deposited in designated plastic bins before being transported to concrete plants where they can be used as concrete additives.

This innovation effectively contains and recycles ecologically harmful oil spills, limiting ecological damage. Johann Pierre Kok, another South African, developed a scientific engineering educational box – ‘Seebox’ that allows children to enjoy a practical and experimental way of learning the sciences and electronics, and measuring almost anything electronic or scientific.

‘Seebox’ also offers short videos explaining what is being measured. This tool addresses the shortage of electronic and scientific professionals, and affords children without laboratory equipment the opportunity to learn first-hand the principles of science and electronics.

Kyai Mullei of Kenya developed M-changa, also known as E-harambee, a mobile application that empowers individuals and organizations to initiate and manage fundraisers through sms or web devices in an efficient and cost-effective way. Combining mass market mobile communication with money transfer technologies, M-changa allows users to solicit support for a cause, track contributions, and withdraw funds using their mobile phones without relying on internet connectivity.

Lesley Erica Scott, also from South Africa, developed Smartspot TBcheck – a mobile application that examines the accuracy of machines used to detect tuberculosis.


Marc Arthur Zang from Cameroon developed the cardio-pad. An affordable tablet that records and processes the patient’s ECG (heart signal) before transferring it to a remote station using mobile phone networks. The device can be used in a village hospital or clinic setting in the absence of a cardiologist.

ECG results can be downloaded on a tablet by the cardiologist. The examination is then interpreted using cardio-pad’s computer-assisted diagnostic embedded application, then results and prescription transmitted to the nurse performing the procedure. This will ensure effective monitoring of heart patients living in rural areas with limited or no access to cardiologists.

Neil Du Preez from South Africa developed mellowcabs, a suite of technologies that includes recovering the kinetic energy, usually lost in the braking process, and converting it into electricity. The development is of interest to carmakers, who are looking to create energy-efficient vehicles.

Source : The Observer


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