A Nigerian innovator, Virtue Oboro has been announced as one of the finalists of the Africa’s largest engineering innovation award coming up on June 15, 2022. Others are Norah Magero, Jack Fletcher, and Gaël Matina Egbidi. The four finalists from Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Togo, were selected from a shortlist of 16 African innovators for their ability to use engineering to solve problems for African communities.
They were selected after receiving eight months of training, mentorship and support, with expert volunteers providing bespoke, one-on-one support on topics including business plans, scaling, recruitment, IP protection, financing and commercialisation.
The final will be hosted by Dr Shini Somara, a mechanical engineer and fluid dynamists turned TV presenter, children’s book author, podcaster, TEDx speaker and mentor. The guest speakers are Richard Gomes, Deputy CEO of the Shell Foundation and Yewande Abiose, Managing Director (Africa)/Global Communities Manager at the Energy Institute. While David Tusubira, Africa Prize alumnus and creator of Remot and Noël N’guessan, founder of Kubeko and winner of the 2021 Africa Prize, will also speak.
This year’s finalists are:
From Nigeria, Virtue Oboro’s innovation is Crib A’glow, a foldable, photo-therapy crib that treats and monitors jaundiced newborns. Virtue and her husband began work on the idea after their son was severely jaundiced after birth, and have since grown the team to include engineers, designers and paediatricians. Crib A’glow can run on either grid or solar power, uses LED lights and actively monitors the level of bilirubin in the baby’s body. It is completely mobile, and a tenth of the cost of the average phototherapy device used in developed countries. To maximise on energy efficiency, light rays are focused on the baby’s body instead of spreading out over the crib.
Norah Magero’s team in Kenya developed VacciBox, a small, mobile, solar-powered fridge that safely stores and transports temperature-sensitive medicines such as vaccines, for use in field vaccinations and in off-grid hospitals. The VacciBox can also be used to transport blood and tissue. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the cold-chain challenges faced by healthcare practitioners and supply chains in distributing temperature-sensitive medicine was highlighted globally, and remains a problem for many types of vaccines. VacciBox hopes to challenge this.
Dr Jack Fletcher and the HYENA team in South Africa developed the POWER POD technology, a diesel generator replacement technology that produces on-site, on-demand and reliable electricity. Jack and the HYENA team developed the POWER POD technology as a way to deploy fuel cell technology into Africa, where hydrogen distribution is all but non-existent. HYENA’s POWER POD is silent, generates no vibration or unhealthy particulates, and does not require frequent maintenance as there are no moving parts.
Software engineer Gaël Matina Egbidi and her team in Togo created Solimi, a prepaid card and account backed by Visa that does not require users to be customers of a specific bank. Africa’s financial inclusion problem is significant – with at least 66% of the population estimated to be unbanked. West Africa has the highest banking fees in the world, with fewer than 10% of Togolese having a bank card. Gaël and her team created the financial product to improve financial inclusivity. This could significantly reduce financial costs, giving unbanked individuals more access to the digital economy.
“Delivering a consensus on the top four candidates from an exceptional sixteen is quite a task that gets tougher each year. The entries are becoming more impressive, year after year. Hearty congratulations to our 2022 winners who we know will make us very proud.” – Ibilola Amao, Africa Prize judge
The remaining 12 candidates from the 2022 Africa Prize shortlist are eligible for a One-to-Watch Award worth £5,000, which will be judged on the strength of their business pitch by the audience. They will compete for the public’s vote at the Africa Prize final on 15 June, which can be booked here free of charge. They are: Dr Julius Mubiru, Uganda, (A-Lite Vein Locator); Afomia Andualem, Ethiopia (Agelgil); Lawrencia Kwansah, Ghana (Aquaponics Hub); Juveline Ngum, Cameroon, (Bleaglee); Adekoyejo Kuye, Nigeria (Coldbox Store); Catherine Wanjoya, Kenya, (Genesis Care); , Mariam Eluma, Nigeria, (Hobeei) ; Divin Kouebatouka, The Republic of Congo, (Kukia); Philip Kyeswa, Uganda, (Peec REM) ; Oluwatobi Oyinola, Nigeria, (SolarPocha) ; Fabrice Tueche, Cameroon (TelMi); Femi Taiwo, Nigeria (TERAWORK)
“Once again, it was very tough to select the Finalists from such a high-quality shortlist. But these four entrepreneurs stood out because their innovations could have huge potential impact in sub-Saharan Africa, and their businesses look destined for success. It’s great to again have three female Finalists – and four different countries represented, with a finalist from Togo for the first time in our 8-year history. ”- CBE FREng Malcolm Brinded, Africa Prize judge
The Africa Prize runs annually and is designed to bring together individual innovators changing their communities, to form a network that can transform a continent. The 2023 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation is now open for entries. Individuals and small teams living and working in sub-Saharan Africa who have a scalable engineering innovation that can solve a local challenge are invited to enter. The deadline for entries is 19 July 2022. You can register for the event HERE