The Innovation Prize for Africa has once again inspired a continent. After various events promoting innovation and creativity, the final ceremony took place on Tuesday 18th July, in Accra. We have been waiting with anticipation to find out who the winners of this years IPA addition would be, but the excitement comes from the huge variety of innovations that made it into the shortlisted 10. The health sector, agriculture, drones, innovative software and the energy sector were all represented in the top ten, showing that the continent is equipped to come up with solutions for Africa as well as the rest of the world.
In this blog we will discuss the winners and give a little analysis. If you want to read more about the other nominees, check out our three other blogs.
This years winner, and receiver of $100,000, was Prof. El-Shafei, who we had not mentioned in our previous blogs. (We had a feeling he may win, so held back for his potential glorious moment!) His innovation is maybe not as ‘sexy’ as some of the others, but it will make an enormous difference to production of energy in Africa and the rest of the world. He has created a smart bearing which changes its characteristics as it operates. According to the IPA website, the bearing “consists of a magnetic bearing imbedded in an oil-filled journal bearing, thus forming the smart controllable bearing.” What this means is that turbine performance is increased significantly, especially in single line combined cycle plants, which combine gas and steam, and conventional generator technology.
With this technology, it will be more efficient and more cost effective to produce electricity in Africa and the world. The rest of the world has been striving to achieve the same goals, but Africa has led the way. This and many other technologies showcased by the IPA, as well as many others throughout Africa, shows that Africa can, and is in certain examples, leading the world in technology.
The second prize of $25,000 was awarded to Philippa Ngaju Makobore of Uganda for her Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed Infusion Set (ECGF). This innovation has been designed to accurately administer intravenous (IV) fluids and drugs by controlling the rate of fluid flow based on feedback from a drop sensor. This makes the process more accurate and prevents people from given an overdose of drugs.
The Special Prize for Social Impact also worth $25,000 went to Dougbeh-Chris Nyan of Liberia for his rapid test that can detect and differentiate at least three infections at the same time. See more here.
African innovation and technology gives Africa the chance to even up the foreign trade deficit and increase exports of products and services. There is still in many circumstances a lack of trust in the African market from outside. But, events like that of IPA should prove to many that Africa has a wealth of talent and creativity to tap into. Companies like Flutterwave have already shown that African talent can work for the most innovative companies in the world. With a little investment into the creativity of the African youth, they could make a massive difference to the continent. More technology, means more jobs and a better chance to closing the gap between Africa and the “west”.
The IPA event in Ghana brought together the most innovative people in the country. For a time, it was trending at top spot on Twitter. The President, Nana Akufo Addo, African Innovation Foundation founder Jean Claude Bastos de Morais, as well as many other dignitaries attended, took part in discussions and presented awards. Unlike many conferences that take place, which discuss what should be done to improve Africa, or how best to digitalise Africa, the IPA pushes and drives innovation in Africa by rewarding and supporting entrepreneurs with their endeavours. By holding these events in different countries in Africa, it build the confidence of those that have ideas, and inspired them to develop their skills to achieve their dreams. With the event trending, and with extensive media coverage, Ghanaians from across the country have been given a taste of what is possible, and have hopefully been inspired to create their own solutions. Already, as you have seen from those working out of iSPace, there is a lot of promise from Ghanaian entrepreneurs. (Keep you eyes open for more videos!)
Innovations in Africa seem to be picking up speed and getting more and more exciting. We are already looking forward to next years addition of the IPA, but in the mean time, there are lots of other awards celebrating the achievements of Africa’s move innovative. We will continue to be excited and share our passion for African innovation with you all.
If you know of any innovations in Africa or an innovation that is changing lives, or you want to be a guest blogger, get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica or via email, and please share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook. Also, we have a new Facebook page! Please like it, and carry on the dialogue about African Innovation there!
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