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Kenyans shine in Africa prize for engineering innovation

Glen Manyiwa digs for clay at a pond on 28, October 2023, in Gaborone, Botswana.

The Royal Academy of Engineering unveiled the shortlist for the 10th Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.

Sixteen visionary innovators hailing from eight African countries, including Botswana for the first time, were recognized for their outstanding contributions to engineering innovation.

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The Africa Prize, established in 2014, has been a platform for African engineers to showcase scalable solutions that address local and global challenges.

In a triumphant moment for Kenya, six innovators from the country have been shortlisted for the prestigious 10th Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, showcasing the nation’s prowess in engineering excellence on a global stage.

This recognition comes as part of the broader celebration of the Africa Prize’s decade-long commitment to promoting and supporting groundbreaking engineering solutions across the continent.

Kenya’s Trailblazing Engineers in the Spotlight

The six Kenyan innovators, each addressing critical challenges with ingenuity and impact, have secured their place among the 16 shortlisted for the 2024 Africa Prize:

Purity Gakuo: Kuza Freezer

A durable, low-cost, solar-powered fridge freezer made from recycled plastic waste. Kuza Freezer empowers small-scale fisherwomen and traders by reducing post-harvest losses, enabling them to increase their income.

Esther Kimani: Early Crop Pest and Disease Detection Device

A solar-powered tool using artificial intelligence and machine learning-enabled cameras to detect and identify agricultural pests and diseases early, helping smallholder farmers reduce crop losses and improve productivity.

Christopher Maara: Kiri EV

Kiri EV designs and assembles affordable and clean-energy mobility products, including electric motorcycles, scooters, and tuktuks, contributing to a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative for Kenyan commuters.

Esther Mueni: Knock Knock

Knock Knock is a domestic alert system designed for people with hearing impairments, using a highly sensitive vibration sensor to detect physical knocks on a door and transmit information to smartphones via Bluetooth.

Charles Oduk: Beba-Beggie

Beba-Beggie is an IoT automated locker technology providing affordable, accessible, secure, and convenient short-term storage for packages, luggage, and similar items, addressing the needs of daily commuters in Nairobi.

Kevin Maina: Eco Tiles

Eco Tiles offers an environmentally friendly roofing material made from recycled plastic, providing a dual solution to plastic pollution and high building costs. These tiles are stronger, lighter, and contribute to a waste-free Africa.

Kenya’s Contribution to Global Engineering Solutions

The achievements of these Kenyan innovators underscore the nation’s commitment to leveraging engineering solutions for sustainable development. These groundbreaking projects not only address local challenges but also contribute to the broader goals of the African continent. The Africa Prize, launched by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering, recognizes and celebrates the transformative impact of engineering on Africa’s economic and environmental landscape.

Empowering Kenyan Innovators for a Sustainable Future

Being shortlisted for the Africa Prize not only brings well-deserved recognition but also provides valuable support, including business incubation, mentoring, fundraising assistance, and access to a global network of engineering and business experts. The impact of this recognition extends beyond individual innovators, contributing to the growth of a thriving ecosystem of engineering solutions in Kenya.

Looking Ahead to the Future of African Innovation

The journey to the Africa Prize final in Nairobi, Kenya, in June 2024 promises to be an exciting one, with four finalists vying for a share of £60,000. The winner will receive £25,000, while three runners-up will be awarded £10,000 each. Additionally, a One-to-Watch award of £5,000 will be presented for the most impactful pitch, as voted by the audience, which will include some 80 Africa Prize alumni from the last ten years.

As the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation continues to inspire and elevate local changemakers to global engineering innovators, it remains a beacon of hope for a sustainable, prosperous, and integrated Africa.

The journey of these 16 innovators embodies the resilience, creativity, and determination that will shape the future of the continent.

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