By Michael Ouma – The EastAfrican
ADDIS ABABA – An Egyptian engineer, Prof Mohamed Sanad has been selected as the overall winner of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), bagging $ 100,000 in prize money for inventing the first small internal integrated micro strip antennas for mobile phones.
Sanad, a professor of engineering at Cairo University, developed a low-cost, lightweight, low wind-load, foldable/deployable, multi-broadband base station antenna; using dual parabolic cylindrical reflectors with novel small size broadband resonant feeds.
The second prize, with $ 50,000 in prize money, went to Zeinu Adelyamine from Algeria who developed an environmentally friendly insecticides and rodenticides.
Seven entries from a total of 458 from 39 African countries were submitted as finalists for the inaugural awards designed to promote the pursuit of science, technology and engineering careers among young African men and women and especially to develop innovative solutions with a great potential for commercialization.
Among the finalists were Kenya’s Su Kahumbu Stephanou, social entrepreneur and developer of the iCow mobile application, an SMS and voice-based mobile phone application for small-scale farmers in Africa and Evans Muchika Wadongo, developer of the ‘Use Solar, Save Lives’ program which involves the design, production and distribution of Solar Powered Lanterns dubbed “Mwanga Bora” to poor rural households without electricity, and he helps communities set up economic ventures from the money initially spent on kerosene.
Others were Angola’s Rui Edgar Conceição Bram who is developing QINet platform which consists of a global platform with a set of integrated applications that allows the automatic introduction, management and distribution of multilingual educational content in electronic or printed format; Ethiopia’s Alemayehu Hadis Getahun who has developed a “Fuel briquette production from coffee husk and pulp,” which is a green and cleaner production approach for coffee waste management and Nigeria’s Joel Nwakaire who has developed an “optimized automated biodiesel continuous production plant”, which can be used for processing various types of vegetable oils.
The awards, organized by the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Africa Innovation Foundation (AIF) – a Swiss-based non-profit – are meant to honour and encourage innovative achievements that contribute toward developing new products, increasing efficiency or saving cost in Africa.
The winners were announced on Monday evening on the sidelines of the two-day Conference of African Finance Ministers currently going on in Ethiopia and which aims to discuss the actions needed to turn Africa into a New Growth Pole for the global economy.
Abdoulie Janneh, UNECA executive secretary said that the high interest shown in the awards suggests that Africa has a growing pool of innovators who, if nurtured, would produce successful technology entrepreneurs, adding that the Innovation Prize for Africa is a project aimed at responding to the need to stimulate science, technology and innovation in the continent.