AIFThe African Innovation Foundation (AIF) on Monday announced the top 10 nominees for its landmark programme, the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA).

Now celebrating its fifth year under the theme “Made in Africa”, IPA is the premier innovation initiative on the African continent, offering a grand share prize 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.

The IPA has seen tremendous growth in applications and increasing interest from both innovators and innovation enablers over the years. 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. African ingenuity this year showcases new breakthroughs in malaria and other public health burdens, smart solutions for farmers and dynamic energy initiatives.

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 H.E. Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the President of Botswana, who will preside at the Awards Ceremony.

Listed below are the top 3 Nigerian IPA 2016 nominees. Prior to the final announcement at a special gala ceremony on 23 June 2016 at the Gaborone International Conference Centre (GICC), the expert panel of IPA judges will once again deliberate through live pitching sessions and one-on-ones with each nominee to select the top three winners.

Tackling malaria and other public health burdens

Dr. Eddy Agbo, Nigeria: Urine Test for Malaria (UMT)

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; more often than not, when fever is detected, anti-malaria medication is administered. 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 with fever due to malaria. The UMT is simple and affordable, and a potential game changer in managing malaria across Africa.

Dr Eddy Agbo is a molecular bio-technologist from Nigeria, and Chairman/CEO of Fyodor Biotechnologies, promoters of UMT. Eddy has a PhD in Molecular Genetics from Utrecht University in Netherlands and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Prior to founding Fyodor, he held a senior research position at John Hopkins University, USA.

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 to ensure safety, accountability and a quality learning experience. Globally, conventional methods of education and learning are transitioning from centralized to distributed, and from standardized to personalized. Such trends have resulted in better learning outcomes. Tuteria fits in well with this model, and has been highly recommended by the IPA judges for the African continent.

Godwin holds a first-class honours systems engineering degree from the University of Lagos in Nigeria and was best engineering Student and 3rd Best Overall Student in the entire graduating set. He worked briefly at ExxonMobil as an Onsite Support Engineer, and also at Deloitte Nigeria as an Information Security Associate before developing Tuteria.

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Smart farming solutions

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 in a way that was previously inaccessible. Additionally, the Tryctor is easy to use and cheaper to maintain as 60% of its parts and components are locally sourced.  The IPA judges were captivated by the clever adaptation of a motorized solution that is ubiquitous in Africa, largely for transportation to a solution for mechanized farming for small scale farmers.

Femi Odeleye is an automobile designer with more than 18 years of experience in design and engineering from both Africa and Europe. He obtained a BSc in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and a BA in Automobile Design from Coventry University, UK. He worked for the automotive industry in the UK before returning to Nigeria to work on the Tryctor.

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