South Africa tops 2013 African innovation prize list

Innovation PrizeNames of the finalists for the 2013 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) have been released and South Africa emerged tops with five nominees.

Chosen from more than 900 applications from 45 countries, the finalists for the IPA 2013 provide practical examples of Africa’s investment potential.

According to officials, the ten African innovators have developed practical solutions to some of the continent’s most intractable problems.

Apart from South Africa, innovations also came from Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia and Sudan.

The IPA is an award founded by the African Innovation Foundation and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

The IPA 2013 finalists’ innovations focused in the areas of agriculture, environment, health, ICT and manufacturing.

They are:

· Zero-Blade Wind Convertor (Tunisia) – Innovators Hassine Labaied and Anis Aouini from Saphon Energy, a Tunisian R&D start up, developed a wind turbine with no blades that does not rotate – it uses sailboat technology to create cost-effective energy through a back-and-forth 3D motion.

· SavvyLoo (South Africa) – Innovator Dr. Dudley Jackson developed a waterless toilet for rural areas and temporary settlements that separates liquids from solids to improve environmental impact, decrease the potential for disease, reduce odour and ensure easier removal.

· The TBag Water Filter (South Africa) – Innovator Prof. Eugene Cloete created a water filter that uses electrospun tea bag material to ensure one litre of the most polluted water is 100 percent safe to drink.

· The Malaria pf/PAN (pLDH) Test Kit (South Africa) –Innovator Ashley Uys created a new rapid malaria test that indicates within 30 minutes if treatment is effective. The test kit is one of only nine developed globally and is the only test of its kind fully-owned by an African company.

·    The Fonia Husker Machine (Senegal) – Innovator Sanoussi Diakite developed an electric and thermal powered machine that husks 5 kilograms of fonia – a West African cereal – in just 8 minutes.

· Novatech Construction Systems (Cameroon) – Innovator Njokikang Faustinus created an efficient construction process. Its flagship product is a manual brick press that more easily produces 3,000 interlocking bricks per day.

· Mobenzi (South Africa) – Innovator Andi Friedman and his team has developed a software that provides mobile data collection and field research solution, allowing sophisticated forms of research to be conducted across Africa online or via mobile phones.

· Mimosa for Solar Powered Production (Nigeria) – Innovator Justus Nwaoga developed a new way to collect renewable solar energy by using the mimosa pudica weed, an organic African medicinal plant.

· Agroforestry Model Farm (Sudan) – Innovator Muna Majoud Mahoamed Ahmed created an agro-foresty model farm in Khartoum that produces innovative sources of income from moringa leaves, seeds and jatrofa seeds.

· AgriProtein (South Africa) – An innovative team of researchers from AgriProtien Technologies developed a new source of animal feed protein that lowers the cost of feed for African producers and farmers.

The winners of the IPA 2013 will be announced at a gala dinner on May 7, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa hosted by the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business and the Sekunjalo Development Foundation.

The winner is expected to receive $100,000 for the best innovation based on marketability, originality, scalability, social impact and clear business potential.

The first edition of the IPA which was held last year witnessed two North African innovators sweeping all the two prizes at stake at a ceremony at  the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The winners are from Egypt and Algeria.

By Ekow Quandzie

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