As the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) announces its top 10 nominees for the prestigious US$185 000 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) 2018 awards, again no Nigerian is listed for the nomination.
The Innovation Prize for Africa, established in 2011 by the AIF, is geared at strengthening African innovation ecosystems through supporting a culture of innovation and competitiveness, whilst spurring the growth of innovative, market-driven African solutions to African challenges.
The foundation seeks to increase Africa’s prosperity through investing in home-grown innovations and entrepreneurship and further strengthen African innovation ecosystems through its platforms while mobilizing a network of innovation enablers, driving business development and cross-collaboration.
Since its inception, a Nigerian had only won at the competition once, in 2016, taking home the third prize of Highest Social Impact innovation. Dr. Eddy Agbo, a molecular bio-technologist and Chairman/CEO of Fyodor Biotechnologies, with his Urine Test (UMT) innovation for Malaria. The UMT is a rapid non-blood diagnostic medical device that can diagnose malaria in less than 25 minutes. UMT uses a dip-stick with accurate results in just 25 minutes. The technology detects malaria parasite proteins in the patient’s urine with fever due to malaria. The UMT is simple and affordable, and a potential game-changer in managing malaria and saving lives across Africa.
Prior to 2016, no Nigerian had been nominated to vie for the top three slots. In the 2017 edition, out of the total of over 2500 applications, 10 nominees were selected, and from these Aly El-Shafei of Egypt emerged as the Grand Prize winner, with Philippa Ngaju Makobore of Uganda landing the Second Prize, and Dougbeh-Chris Nyan of Liberia winning the Special Prize for Social Impact.
This year’s Call for Applications with its theme “African innovation: Investing in Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems” attracted more than 3 000 applications from 52 African countries. Building on the AIF mandate, submissions this year demonstrate significant breakthroughs in ICT, agri-business, public health, and the environment/ energy sectors to improve the lives and economic prospects of Africans.
Speaking on the initiative, AIF Chairman, Walter Fust said: “Now in its seventh year running, we have witnessed multi-million-dollar businesses emerging from the IPA initiative, with health, environment/energy, and agricultural innovations leaving imprints across the African continent and beyond. Our theme this year prompts the need for increased collaboration between government, business, industry, innovation enablers and the community to further realize African prosperity and economic freedom.”
The IPA initiative has grown from strength to strength mobilizing, rewarding and honoring top African innovators whilst also building strategic partnerships with innovation enablers to strengthen innovation ecosystems in Africa. To date, AIF has supported 55 IPA winners/nominees with US$ 1 million+ and mobilized 9 400+ innovators from all 55 African countries. AIF endorsement and exposure generated through IPA have seen past winners securing over US$135 million worth of investments to grow and scale their businesses. IPA past winners and nominee company valuations amount to US$200 million+.
Managing Director of AIF, Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl who has steered the IPA program since its establishment in 2011, said: “We are proud of the impressive innovations that made it to the top 10 this year. They are evident examples of African ingenuity and each innovation is solving a real challenge in a key sector. Africa, and indeed the rest of the world, must keep an eye out – these innovations are ready to propel our continent’s global competitiveness in the market! Furthermore, these top 10 nominees are a great reminder that if given access to capital, Africans are capable of solving African challenges whilst also contributing to the rest of the world.”
The Nominations for this year were Biodegradable seed tray for rice farming by Juslain Nomenjanahary Raharinaivo (Madagascar); Buried Diffuser by Mr. Wassim Chahbani (Tunisia); efficient detection of TB and Hepatitis C by Professor Abdeladim Moumen and Dr. Hassan Ait Benhassou (Morocco) and eNose sensor for tea processing by Abraham Natukunda (Uganda).
Others were, Incas Vaginal Discharge Kit (Incas Vagkit) by Dr. Laud Anthony Basing (Ghana); “iThrone” portable toilet by Dr. Diana Yousef (Egypt); Mobile Shiriki Network, a Smart Solar Kiosk by Henri Nyakarundi (Rwanda); Natural solutions for skeletal regeneration and repair by Prof. Keolebogile Shirley Motaung (South Africa); Reducing pollution in an eco-friendly way using GKSORB! By Dr Fohla Mouftaou (Benin) and Christian Mwijage’s Waxy II Technology (Tanzania). Mwijage’s company recycles and transforms post-consumer waste plastic into durable and environmentally friendly plastic lumber using a chemical-free and energy conserving technology called “Waxy ӀӀ technology” for building, construction, and furniture production.
IPA offers a grand prize of US$185 000, shared between the Grand Prize Winner (US$ 100,000); second prize Winner (US$ 25,000) and Special Prize For Social Impact Innovation (US$ 25,000). The seven other nominees receive a voucher worth US$ 5,000 each.
The Prize focuses on Innovation areas around Manufacturing and Service Industry; Agriculture/Agri-Business; Health & Wellbeing; Information Communication Technologies (ICTS) and Environment, Energy & Water.
Six successful IPA editions have been hosted in every region in Africa in partnership with host country Governments. These were Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2012); Cape Town, South Africa (2013); Abuja, Nigeria (2014); Skhirat, Morocco (2015); Gaborone, Botswana (2016) and Accra, Ghana (2017).