Nigerian engineer, Chukwuemeka Eze, and three others from South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda have emerged as finalists for the 2023 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
The four finalists, who were selected from an initial shortlist of 15 African innovators, will be competing for a £25,000 grand prize.
The three others are Edmund Wessels, a South African biomedical engineer, Gibson Kawago, a Tanzanian electrical engineer, and Anatoli Kirigwajjo, a Ugandan software engineer.
Founded by the United Kingdom’s Royal Academy of Engineering, the Africa Prize, which is in its ninth year, is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation, according to an official statement Thursday.
The Royal Academy noted in the statement that the ninth winner will be announced in Accra, Ghana, on 6 July, and that the other three finalists will receive £10,000 each.
About finalists, innovations
The organisers noted in the statement that the finalists were selected “for their proven ability to harness engineering to address common problems faced by Africans across the continent,” adding that the innovations tackle challenges central to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The innovations that made it to the final include electromobility motorbike conversion, a portable uterine inspection device, power packs made from recycled batteries, and a local digital security network for community safety.
Mr Eze, who is an electrical engineer, developed the Revive Kit, a modular e-mobility service used to convert gas-powered three-wheeled motorbikes to run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
His innovation will enable drivers to save up to 60 per cent in operational costs, including gas or petrol, and 90 per cent in maintenance costs.
On the features of the innovation, the academy highlighted that the Revive Kit includes lithium-ion batteries, an AC induction motor, a retrofit shaft and an electronic controller, which acts as the inverter.
It also includes a vehicle-to-home power adapter, hall-effect sensors that interface the throttle and the motor to the controller to determine and regulate motor speed.
“With surging fuel prices in Africa, the Revive Kit aims to be part of the solution. Too many drivers are spending over 60 per cent of their revenue on petrol and maintenance; we aim to deliver an affordable and sustainable transport system which is environmentally friendly,” it noted.
The South-African engineer developed FlexiGyn, a battery-powered portable handheld device enabling gynaecologists to diagnose and treat a woman’s uterus without anaesthetic or expensive equipment, increasing women’s access to reproductive healthcare, particularly in remote areas.
While Mr Kawago from Tanzanian developed the WAGA PAWA Pack, a rechargeable power source created from recycled laptop lithium-ion batteries, providing a reliable and affordable electricity source.
About Africa prize, academy’s effort
Since the initiative was founded in 2014, the Royal Academy said it has supported more than 130 entrepreneurs across 20 African countries through the Africa Prize with a rigorous business training programme and lifelong support through the Africa Prize alumni network.
“More than 70 per cent of the alumni’s engineering and technology businesses now generate revenue. Between them, the Africa Prize alumni have raised more than USD 14 million in grants and equity funding and created more than 3,600 jobs, almost half of them for women,” it stated.
It noted that the Africa Prize runs annually and is designed to bring together individual innovators changing their communities, adding that the 2024 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation is now open for entries, and the deadline for entries is 25 July 2023.
The academy also explained that the prize is dedicated to developing African innovators and helping them to maximise their impact.
“It gives commercialisation support to ambitious African innovators developing scalable engineering solutions to address local challenges, demonstrating the importance of engineering as an enabler of improved quality of life and economic development,” it added.
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