The 2023 shortlist represents ten African countries, including for the first time Angola and Sierra Leone, and demonstrates the importance of engineering as an enabler of improved quality of life and sustained economic development.
The innovations shortlisted in 2023 tackle challenges central to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including clean water and sanitation, sustainable cities and communities, good health and well-being, clean energy, good health and well-being, and quality education.
Several water innovations are featured in the 2023 shortlist, including a real-time water quality monitoring and control system, an acid mine drainage solution to recycle contaminated water for human consumption, a portable unit that uses fish waste to boost the production of vegetables, and a water management system to prevent excess borehole pumping and drying out of aquifers.
Energy and environmental solutions also feature heavily, with a power pack with recycled laptop batteries to address unreliable power supply, converted motorbikes that run on batteries, an electric cargo bike with a battery-powered fridge to reduce post-harvest loss, a system to help prepare waste for recycling, a mobile machine to create interlocking compressed earth bricks, and an ecofriendly cooking stove that absorbs black carbon.
Allen Chafa – Smart Water Tech (Zimbabwe)
Smart Water Tech is a real-time water quality monitoring and control system designed to address poor water quality, which results in the spread of waterborne diseases. The six sensors in Chafa’s innovation monitor dissolved oxygen, pH levels, temperature, turbidity, hardness and total dissolved solids.
Anatoli Kirigwajjo – YUNGA (Uganda)
YUNGA is a local rescue network providing low-cost security by connecting neighbours to each other and with the police. The innovation is based on the ‘ten household model’, a traditional practice in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania where people use drums to alert their community to an emergency.
Boitumelo Nkatlo – Affordable AMD Solution (South Africa)
Affordable AMD Solution is a developed technology to treat acid mine drainage (AMD), using industrial waste to recycle contaminated water for human consumption. Nkatlo’s innovation has four processes to convert AMD to drinking water. First, it is mixed with metallurgical slag, a waste product which extracts base metals from water. A volume of 3,500 litres of contaminated water gets mixed with just 8 kilograms of slag, which binds to heavy metals in the AMD and increases its pH levels.
Chukwuemeka Eze – Electric Mobility (Nigeria)
Electric Mobility is an e-mobility service which converts gas-powered three-wheel motorbikes to run on batteries. Drivers using the electric motorbikes can save up to 60% in costs on gas or petrol. The batteries can be recharged using any 13A or 15A wall socket and run for up to eight hours on a single charge for an average load of 320 kilograms. A vehicle-to-home integration can provide power to charge devices in off-grid homes or during power failures, essentially functioning as a mobile electric generator.
Margaret Yainkain Mansaray – Smart Green Stove (Sierra Leone)
Smart Green Stove is an efficient non-electric cooking device designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and health risks that disproportionately affect women and girls in Africa. It also saves time spent cooking and reduces energy use by 70%. The chimney of the Smart Green Stove can be opened and closed to ensure efficient combustion, regulate temperature, and minimise heat loss. The device is portable, suitable for indoor and outdoor use, and comes with a two-year guarantee, after which the insulator needs to be replaced.
Dr Deon Neveling – ProbiGal (South Africa)
ProbiGal is a host-specific multi-strain probiotic designed to promote gut health and prevent bacterial infections in chickens. A kilogram of ProbiGal will cost £74, which can be given as a single dose to 100,000 chickens. Once Neveling has been granted regulatory approval for ProbiGal, he will move into mass production and aims to develop additional microbial additives for other animals, crops, and soil.
Cletus Ekpoh – Waste-to-Wealth Enhancer (Nigeria)
Waste-to-Wealth Enhancer (WWE) is a four-part recycling system created to address illegal dumping of rubbish, unregulated landfills and open burning of plastic. It aims to reduce pollution, contamination and environmental degradation. The four portable machines are designed for use at dump sites by waste pickers who can efficiently process waste into valuable recycled material for secondary production in the circular economy.
Cristovão Cacombe – Arobot (Angola)
Arobot is a robotics learning tool for children, modelled to resemble a three-wheeled Angolan motorbike known as the ‘kupapata’. Arobot has ultrasonic and ultraviolet sensors, which allow actions to be programmed through artificial intelligence-informed programming. A Bluetooth sensor connects it to a laptop so the robot’s actions can be coded and executed. It can also be connected to a mobile phone.
Emmanuel Ofori Devi – MEDBOX (Ghana)
MEDBOX is a healthcare monitoring system that records a patient’s vital signs and immediately transmits them to healthcare professionals who can provide remote medical advice. Because MEDBOX uses SMS and basic phone networks, it enables healthcare professionals and patients to overcome the challenge of poor internet coverage in Ghana.
Fikru Gebre Dikumbab – Multi-Purpose Earth Brick Machine (Ethiopia)
The Multi-Purpose Earth Brick Machine is a manually operated portable machine to make interlocking compressed earth bricks for more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly construction. It can be reconfigured to create paving bricks and charcoal briquettes. The machine is made from steel plates and designed to be easily assembled. Using simple physics principles, first- and second-class levers in the machine are used to multiply the force applied, which is important to compress the input materials.
Flavien Kouatcha Simo – Digital Aquaponics (Cameroon)
Digital Aquaponics is a portable fish farm that uses fish waste to boost the production of organic vegetables and herbs. The aim is to connect sellers with nearby buyers, reducing post-harvest losses by up to 40% and cutting the carbon footprint of long-haul transport. The network currently has 1,200 members.
Gibson Kawago – WAGA Power Pack (Tanzania)
Tanzanian electrical engineer Gibson Kawago is recycling laptop batteries to provide reliable and affordable power for electric bikes, power banks, solar lights, businesses and homes. His innovation is WAGA Power Pack. The recycled battery pack is enclosed in an aluminium case with ports that can be connected to inverters, solar lamps and other chargers. The WAGA Power Pack Pro can be recharged for up to three hours and shows when the pack needs charging.
Edmund Wessels – FlexiGyn (South Africa)
FlexiGyn is a portable device that allows gynaecologists to diagnose and treat uterine health issues without needing anaesthetic. Edmund Wessels, a biomedical engineer and PhD student at the University of Cape Town, invented FlexiGyn as a response to challenges in reproductive healthcare for women in places that still use outdated and inefficient devices which cause discomfort. Anaesthesia is not commonly used for hysteroscopies in Africa.
Obed Zar – Aquaset (Ghana)
Aquaset is a smart water management system that prevents waste and enables consumers to manage their consumption. Zar hopes to develop a mobile app which will store this information. His team are aiming to develop sensors to test and monitor water quality. Aquaset has been installed in 25 homes to date and has certification from the Ghana Standards Authority. Zar aims to install 5,000 more units in the next year.
Tolulope Olukokun – ThinkBikes CoolMAX (Nigeria)
ThinkBikes CoolMAX is an electric cargo bike with a fridge to help Nigeria’s smallholder farmers get fresh food crops to market. Olukokun aims to accelerate Nigeria’s transition to renewable energy and sustainable transport as a response to the climate crisis and increased fuel prices, which significantly impact smallholder farmers and traders who are struggling to scale up their activities.
**This post forms part of the Africa Collective initiative, for which Business Insider Africa is the lead media partner. Learn more about the initiative here.