London Academy Rewards African Engineering Innovation

Written by Dana Sanchez

Finalists from Zambia, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania have been announced in the first Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, and they’re competing for a 455,000 rand ($37,700 US)  prize, according to a report in htxt.

The prize is awarded by the London-based Royal Academy of Engineering.

Ernst Pretorius, 43, of Pretoria, South Africa, invented and patented the Draadsitter (Afrikaans for fence sitter), which detects tampering on fences of up to 800 metres long and sets off an alarm. He said his innovation will help combat rhino poaching. It is battery operated and weather proof.

Kenyan software engineer Samuel Njuguna invented Chura, is a web-based app for Kenyans who own more than one SIM card on different mobile networks and want to transfer airtime from one SIM to another or even convert it to cash. Njuguna and his team are working on a mobile app and hope to establish the service in Nigeria and Zambia soon, according to htxt.

Zambian-born Musenga Silwawa designed a fertilizer applicator that looks like a walking stick and applies fertilizer directly to plants instead of to an entire field, saving overhead costs and fertilizer. It will save farm workers time, it could also save their backs as they will not be bending over in order to place fertilizer by hand.

Dr. Askwar Hilonga from the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science & Technology in Tanzania designed a low-cost, sand-based water filter system that employs nanotechnology to remove pollutants and bacteria from water. It’s designed for communities that live near polluted water sources.

The prize is supported by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund, Consolidated Contractors Company, and ConocoPhillips.

Africa Prize judge Dr. Bola Olabisi described the finalists as “exemplars of African engineering innovation with remarkable potential,” htxt reports.

About Dana Sanchez

Dana Sanchez was born in South Africa and is a U.S. citizen. After working in advertising, she went back to school and earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of South Florida. As a business writer, she won regional and national writing awards. As editor of a daily newspaper, she coordinated staff writers, freelancers and photographers in the fast-paced environment of daily news. Dana was an editor at Moguldom Media Group for four years, helping to build and manage a team of staff and freelance writers. She works now on for Nubai Ventures. A long-distance hiker and cyclist, she writes about the business of technology.