The sixth edition of the coveted Africa Innovation Prize (PIA) (http://InnovationPrizeForAfrica.org) from the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) (www.AfricanInnovation.org) ended with the consecration of three Africans for their exceptional innovations. The 10 nominees were selected from over 2,500 applications received for this edition. Among them, Egyptian Aly El-Shafei won the Grand Prix, Ugandan Philippa Ngaju Makobore received the Second Prize and Dougbeh-Chris Nyan of Liberia received the Special Prize for Social Impact. The other seven also received US $ 5,000 for the development of their innovations. All the winners and nominees will also benefit from additional support from the AIF to take their innovations to the next level.
The main obstacle to increasing power generation capacity in Africa continues to be the high cost of electricity generation, forcing governments to subsidize consumption. The intelligent electromagnetic device integrated into the axle bearing or SEMAJIB, Dr. El-Shafei’s innovation is a world-class solution that supports power-generating turbines and can be used to improve efficiency and reduce the costs of energy production in Africa.
Likewise, inadequate medical solutions for effectively administering drugs or diagnosing disease continue to affect the quality of health care in many parts of the continent. Makobore’s invention, an electronically controlled infusion and Dr. Nyan’s rapid test for several diseases, both offer ingenious solutions to improve the quality of health care in Africa.
The 2017 PIA Awards Ceremony took place at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra under the high patronage of H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana. This ceremony is the result of a collaboration between AIF and the Government of Ghana represented by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) and the Ghana 60 Years On Planning Committee.
According to Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, Founder of the AIF, “For this edition of the PIA, we have focused on supporting African innovators with the aim of increasing investments likely to enable them to market their innovations at nationally and internationally. The AIF has rewarded innovations that can truly impact the lives of Africans and I believe these innovations have real business potential and will succeed in attracting the right investments to take the next step. ”
Professor Barthélémy Nyasse, President of the 2017 PIA Jury confided that the deliberation process was arduous due to the remarkable quality of the last ten innovations in the running: “Each of these innovations was in its own way a winner, because they all represented local solutions to local problems. It was played on the wire but we believe that we awarded the most compelling innovations of this year. We look forward to following the journey of the 2017 PIA winners and wish them every success ”.
Dr. El-Shafei’s patented SEMAJIB innovation that won the US $ 100,000 Grand Prize is a smart device that dramatically improves turbine performance in both combined cycle power plants and conventional generators. This technology makes it possible to generate electricity in Africa more efficiently and at a lower cost. It was patented in the United States in 2010 and patent pending in another country. This technology is truly disruptive and SIEMENS has expressed its interest. A world-class innovation emanating from Africa, SEMAJIB takes a stand against the cliché of Africa as a consumer of technology and turns it into a producer of technology. The production of these bearings in Africa will also generate jobs which will lead to increased income.
Philippa’s electronically controlled infusion, winner of the US $ 25,000 Second Prize, was designed to accurately deliver intravenous (IV) fluids and medications, controlling the flow rate based on indications from a sensor of fall. It is very easy to use and has safety features like alarms that monitor infusion rate (fast or slow), total volume (upper or lower) and faulty sensors. Intravenous infusions are essential for adults and children in a variety of situations. More than 10% of children admitted to hospitals in East Africa are in need of immediate infusion therapy. The results of the FEAST trial indicate that excess infusion in these children increased the absolute risk of mortality by 3.3% over 48 hours. This technology has the potential to save lives with precision and safety at an amount equal to 8% of the cost of a new infusion pump.
Dr. Dougbeh, who won the US $ 25,000 Special Social Impact Prize, has designed a rapid screening test that can simultaneously detect and differentiate between three to seven infections at a time. This test, which is both quick and easy to use, can be used to diagnose different infections that present with similar symptoms, as in the case of a patient suffering from yellow fever, malaria or Ebola. While most test methods take 3-7 days, this device provides test results within 10-40 minutes. Dougbeh is currently working on the second prototype of his innovation. The positive results obtained on the first prototype have been validated by clinical trials and published in various renowned scientific journals such as “Nature-Scientific Reports”. This innovation has the potential to revolutionize the detection and management of infectious diseases on the continent.
In his remarks during the award ceremony, HE Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana observed that “With the celebration of Ghana’s 60 years of independence, there was no better time. to reiterate our country’s commitment to invest in innovation growth and prosperity. Our decision to collaborate with the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) to host the 2017 edition of the PIA is the result of our commitment to support African innovation, not only at the national level, but also at the pan-African level. Platforms such as the PIA are essential to create stronger synergies among key players in Science, Technology and Innovation in Ghana while expanding links with international partners. This helps to promote knowledge transfer and capacity building of actors in the innovation ecosystem, to forge new partnerships with regional innovation leaders and to expand our country’s footprint on the map. innovation ”.
PIA 2017 received hundreds of nominations from talented innovators. For the first time, innovators from Zimbabwe, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are among the nominees, along with an unprecedented representation of women. The exceptional quality of the candidates in general and of the nominees and winners in particular delighted the members of the jury and set the tone for the awards ceremony which was majestic.
PIA has experienced phenomenal growth in the number of applications, as well as increasing interest from innovators and innovation actors over the years. To date, the PIA has identified more than 7,500 innovators from 52 African countries, making it a truly pan-African initiative. The 2017 edition of the PIA received a record number of entries from more than 2,500 innovators from 48 African countries. The Foundation has supported previous winners and laureates to the tune of approximately $ 1 million to further develop their innovations. Thanks to the exposure generated by the PIA, the previous winners have managed to raise more than $ 30 million in investments to grow their businesses.