Five Kenyans were among 16 people who were nominated for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, run by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering, on Thursday, November 21 in Cape town South Africa.
The award seeks to recognise ambitious African innovators who are developing scalable engineering solutions to local challenges.
Samuel Rigu from Safi Organics developed a process that turns crop waste into a range of affordable fertilisers; while Justine Abuga’s innovation, Solar Jiko, is a heat storage system that allows rural schools to cook food quickly and easily without firewood.
Tracy Kimathi, one of the six women and the only woman from Kenya on the shortlist, created a solar system that powers communal refrigeration storage spaces in rural Kenya and called it the Tree_Sea.mals Mini-Grid.
Tracy Kimathi, the only woman among the five Kenyan nominees.
Two of the innovations use invasive water hyacinth harvested from Lake Victoria, Jack Oyugi’s Aquaprotein is an affordable protein supplement for animal feed, and Richard Arwa uses the plant to make CIST Ethanol Fuel, clean cooking ethanol.
Launched by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014, the annual Africa Prize awards provide commercialisation support to the innovators who are transforming their local communities.
The prize has a track record of identifying engineering entrepreneurs with significant potential, endorsing those who, with the support of the prize, have gone on to achieve greater commercial success and social impact.
A unique package of support will be provided to the shortlisted candidates over the next eight months to help them accelerate their businesses.
The benefits of selection include comprehensive and tailored business training, bespoke mentoring, funding and access to the Academy’s network of high profile, experienced engineers and business experts in the UK and across Africa.
Following this period of support, four finalists are selected and invited to pitch their improved innovation and business plan to the judges and a live audience. A winner is selected to receive Ksh3,280,961.77, and three runners up receive Ksh1,312,384.71.
Others nominated are Charlette N’Guessan from Ghana, Catherine Tasankha Chaima from Malawi, Adrian Padt from South Africa, Timothy Kayondo from Uganda, Bernice Dapaah from Ghana, Aisha Raheem from Nigeria, Victor Boyle-Komolafe from Nigeria, Isaac Sesi from Ghana, Josephine Godwyll from Ghana, Dr William Wasswa from Uganda and David Tusubira also from Uganda.
Jack Oyugi who was nominated for using hyacinth to make affordable protein supplement for animal feed