The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced the winners of the 2021 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
Chemical Engineer, Noël N’guessan is the winner of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s 2021 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation with a biowaste equipment innovation for smallholder farmers in West Africa to efficiently manage and generate income from biowaste.
Noël is the second Ivorian to win the Africa Prize and the first to win with an Ivorian-based innovation. Cote D’Ivorian tech entrepreneur, Charlette N’Guessan was the first-ever woman to win the Africa Prize.
Noël N’guessan and his team designed and patented Kubeko to assist smallholder farmers and their cooperatives to generate more income from the by-products of their harvests, without any additional labour. Kubeko is a set of low-cost biowaste processing equipment; its composter and biodigester are both specifically designed to ferment agricultural post-harvest by-products into solid and liquid compost, and cooking gas.
N’guessan wins the first prize of £25,000 (19 058 427,00 West African CFA).
Nigerian finance specialist, Faith Adesemowo, is a runner-up of the 2021 Africa Prize for Engineering innovation. Faith wins £10,000 for Social Lender, a digital finance solution that provides immediate access to formal financial services to those with little to no access.
Faith and her team created Social Lender to assist more than 50% of unbanked Africans with the efficient and immediate digital solution for accessing formal financial services. Social Lender partners with service providers like banks, microfinance institutions, micro-insurance companies and agricultural input companies to offer access to financial services based on Social Reputation Scores.
In 10 minutes, its proprietary algorithm can perform a social audit of users based on their mobile, social media and other online activity, and assign them a Social Reputation Score on a scale of 1 – 100. This digital fingerprint allows them to access credit, loans, microinsurance, farm inputs and other services.
“The Royal Academy of Engineering has provided invaluable support to Social Lender, the past eight months of specialised training truly illustrates their commitment to developing African innovators. Winning the Prize would be great for the business, not just financially, but as a validation of Social Lender’s purpose,” said Faith.
Since being shortlisted for the Africa Prize, the team has attracted promising new investors by instituting a dynamic new communication strategy. It has also upgraded the business’s corporate structure and employed 500 new Social Lender ambassadors, despite the global pandemic’s financial impact.
The runner ups from other African countries who got £10,000 each are:
- BlueAvo, Indira Tsengiwe from South Africa.
- Make3D Medical, Juka Fatou Darboe from The Gambia.
In addition to the main prizes awarded, the remaining 12 innovators from 2021 shortlist pitched their innovations to a live audience who voted for the pitch that showed the most promise and potential for impact.
Yusuf Bilesanmi from Nigeria was selected as the inaugural winner of the Africa Prize’s One-to-Watch Award of £5,000. This Award recognises the potential of Bilesanmi’s innovation, ShiVent, a low-cost, non-electric and non-invasive ventilator for patients with respiratory difficulties.
Shortlisted candidates from other African countries are:
- Aevhas, Jacob Azundah from Nigeria.
- Biopackaging, Armelle Sidje from Cameroon.
- CodeLn, Elohor Thomas from Nigeria.
- Dissolv Bioplastic, Tshepo Mangoele from South Africa.
- I3S, Marie Ndieguene from Senegal.
- Jumeni Field Service Software, Eyram Amedzor from Ghana.
- Mkono-1, Dr Atish Shah from Tanzania.
- Orbit Health, Pazion Cherinet from Ethiopia.
- Reeddi, Olugbenga Olufemi Olubanjo from Nigeria.
- RealDrip, Taofeek Olalekan from Nigeria.
- ShiVent, Yusuf Bilesanmi from Nigeria.
- SuaCode.ai, George Boateng from Ghana.
The eighth Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation is now open. Individuals and small teams living and working in sub-Saharan Africa, and who have an engineering innovation, are invited to enter. Potential entrants can find more information here. The deadline for entries is 20 July 2021.