3 Nigerians nominated for Innovation Prize for Africa

Qasim Akinreti,Lagos

Dr Eddy Agbo

Three Nigerians have been nominated for the Innovation Prize for Africa, under the auspices of the African Innovation Foundation (AIF).

Dr. Eddy Agbo, for innovation on Urine Test for Malaria, Olufemi Odeleye for innovation of tricycle and Godwin Benson for innovation on an Online teaching platforms. They were part of the top 10 nominees for its landmark programme, the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), 2016.

Now celebrating its 5th year under the theme “Made in Africa”, IPA is the premier innovation initiative in the African continent, offering a grand share price of US$150 000 and incentives to spur growth and prosperity in Africa through home-grown solutions.

In the past five years, I’ve seen innovation grow from a mere buzzword to a sturdy path for African growth in multi-disciplinary industries across the continent. As Africans, we have the talent, potential and clout to solve our own problems with ingenuity too, and IPA is testimony of this,” said Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, IPA Director at the helm of this initiative since its launch in 2011.

It also showcases Africans ingenuity and breakthroughs in malaria and other public health burdens, smart solutions for farmers and dynamic power initiatives.

To date, IPA has attracted more than 6 000 innovators from 50 African countries, making it a truly Pan African initiative. IPA 2016 attracted a record 3 600 plus innovators and received 985 successful submissions from 46 African countries.

AIF will host the IPA 2016: Made in Africa awards ceremony and its first ever Innovation Ecosystems Connector on 22 and 23 June 2016 in Gaborone, Botswana.

This premier innovation event has been endorsed by President of Botswana, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, who will preside at the Awards Ceremony

 Nominees

The top 10 IPA 2016 nominees and their innovations are :

Dr. Eddy Agbo, Nigeria: Urine Test for Malaria, UMT, is a rapid non-blood diagnostic medical device that can diagnose malaria in less than 25 minutes. Africa has the highest number of malaria cases worldwide. However, the inability to quickly diagnose and commence malaria treatment can lead to various complications including kidney failure, build-up of lung fluid, aplastic anaemia and even death. UMT uses a dip-stick with accurate results in just 25 minutes. The technology detects malaria parasite proteins in the patient’s urine. The UMT is simple and affordable, and a potential game changer in managing malaria across Africa.

Godwin Benson, Nigeria: Tuteria

Tuteria is an innovative peer-to-peer learning online platform that allows people who want to learn any skill, whether formal or informal, to connect with anyone else in proximity who is offering that skill. For instance, a student needing math skills can connect online with someone in their vicinity offering remedial classes in mathematics. The tutors and the learners form an online community that connects them, and once a fit is established, they meet offline for practical exchange. Both tutors and learners are thoroughly vetted.

Olufemi Odeleye, Nigeria: The Tryctor

The Tryctor is a mini tractor modelled on the motorcycle. By attaching various farming implements, it can carry out similar operations as a conventional tractor to a smaller scale. Farming for most small scale farmers in the continent is tough, laborious and characterized by low productivity. Small scale farmers are constrained by the costs involved in switching to mechanized agriculture and use of heavy equipment. However, through inspired alterations to a motorcycle’s engine, gearing system and chassis, this innovation has made it possible to mechanize agriculture in Africa for small scale farmers.

Valentin Agon, Benin: Api-Palu

Api-Palu is an anti-malaria drug treatment developed out of natural plant extract. It is significantly cheaper than available anti-malarial drugs, and has great inhibitory effects on 3D7 strains of plasmodium falciparum the causative agent of malaria. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 88% of malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths reported globally (WHO: 2015) with some African governments spending up to 40% of their public health budgets on malaria treatment. Api-Palu manifests as a fast rate of malaria parasite clearance from the blood following short term treatment, with relatively lower doses. It is available in tablets, capsules or syrup. The drug has been approved in Benin, Burkina Faso, Tchad, and Central Africa Republic because of its therapeutic and non-toxic effects.

Samuel Rigu, Kenya: Safi Sarvi Organics

Safi Sarvi Organics is a low-cost fertilizer made from purely organic products and waste from farm harvests, designed to improve yields for farmers by up to 30%. Rural farmers in sub-Saharan Africa pay huge costs for fertilizer, which is often produced abroad and imported. Owing to such high costs farmers can only afford the cheap, synthetic, and acidulated fertilizer varieties. In many areas where the soil is inherently acidic, use of acidulated fertilizers can lead to long-term soil degradation and yield loss, at about four percent per year. Safi Sarvi costs the same as traditional fertilizers, can reverse farmers’ soil degradation and lead to improved yield and income.

Dr. Imogen Wright, South Africa: Exatype

Exatype is a software solution that enables healthcare workers to determine HIV positive patients’ responsiveness to ARV drug treatment. According to WHO, 71% of people living with HIV/AIDS reside in Africa until now, governments’ response has been to ensure access to treatment for all. However, a growing number of people on ARVs are resistant to drug regimens, leading to failure of the therapy.Exatype processes the highly complex data produced by advanced “next-generation” DNA sequencing of the HIV DNA in a patient’s blood. Through a simple report, it detects drugs that are resistant to the patient, then highlights the need to avoid these to ensure successful treatment.

Dr. Kit Vaughan, South Africa: Aceso

Aceso is an imaging technology, capable of performing full-field digital mammography and automated breast ultrasound at the same time, dramatically improving breast cancer detection. Annually, there are more than half a million cancer deaths in Africa and these numbers are expected to double in the next three decades. If diagnosed early enough, the cancer can be treated successfully. However, because 40% of women have dense tissue, their cancers cannot be seen on X-ray. Furthermore, a false negative finding can have devastating consequences. Aceso is a single device that can acquire dual-modality images – full-field digital mammography and automated breast ultrasound – at the same time.

Dr. Youssef Rashed, Egypt: The Plate Package (PLPAK)

The Plate Package (PLPAK) is a robust software solution that assesses the architecture of building plans or technical drawings, determining structural integrity of the end design. PLPAK applies the boundary element based method to analyse and view practical design on building foundations and slabs. This enables engineers to represent building slabs over sophisticated foundation models easily, building information modelling techniques and eliminating human error.

Andre Nel, South Africa: Green Tower

Green Tower is an off-grid water heating and air conditioning solution based on solar power that uses advanced thermos-dynamics to create up to 90% savings in electricity consumption.  Water heating and air conditioning systems can account up to 60% of energy consumption in a home or building.

Johan Theron, South Africa:  PowerGuard

PowerGuard enables consumers to determine the maximum amount of power supply required for daily operations. Consumers can thus reduce their power demand, especially during peak times, leading to a more efficient power supply, and helping to reduce power cuts. PowerGuard addresses electricity fluctuations, and power delivery and supply challenges by reducing the peaks, relieving pressure on the electricity network. Consumers can set their own maximum peak power usage needs. This technology substantially reduces load shedding and power rationing, diverting power to more productive industries.

Walter Fust, Chairman of the AIF Board was impressed by the level of submissions for IPA 2016: “As we celebrate the five year IPA journey, our mission to engage, inspire and transform is evident in the IPA process – from the growing registrations, to the level of talent and ingenuity we see in the nominees, as well as the enthusiasm from our expert judges in seeing these innovations at work to solve some of Africa’s intractable challenges.