Behold, winners of the 2017 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA 2017)

Recently, the much awaited 6th edition of the esteemed Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA)  took place in the Ghanaian capital, Accra. The awards came to an end on July 18, with the organizer, African Innovation Foundation (AIF) awarding three more African innovators for their innovations.

With pomp and pageantry, Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) and the Ghana 60 Years On Planning Committee in partnership with the African Innovation Foundation brought the continent’s top innovators together on this occasion.

With an initial total of approximately 2,500 applications, ten finalists had emerged. From the final ten, Aly El-Shafei of Egypt emerged as Grand Prize winner, Philippa Ngaju Makobore of Uganda won the Second Prize, and Dougbeh Chris Nyan of Liberia went home with the Special Prize for Social Impact.

Grand Prize winner Aly El-Shafei (Egypt)

The total prize money was $185,000. The Grand Prize winner went home with $100,000, the Second Prize winner and Special Prize for Social Impact Winner went home with $25,000 apiece.

The seven other finalists were not left out. Each went home with US$ 5,000 vouchers as grants, to further develop their innovations. In addition, all nominees and winners will benefit from IPA’s post prize activities aimed at moving their innovations to the next level.

“This edition of IPA has been all about galvanizing support for African innovators, in order to mobilize increased investments to help them commercialize and scale their innovations at a greater rate. AIF has rewarded IPA 2017 for developing solutions that can truly add value to the lives of Africans, and I believe that these innovations have incredible commercial potential and will succeed in attracting the right investments to go to the next stage,” said the founder of AIF, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais.

2nd Prize winner, Philippa Ngaju Makobore (Uganda)

According to the chairman of the IPA 2017 jury, Prof Nyasse Barthelemy, the deliberation was tough as the quality of innovations were high. “Each of the innovations, in their own respective ways, were winners as they represented local solutions to local challenges. It came down to the wire but we believe we have awarded the most compelling innovations this year. We look forward to seeing what comes next for the incredible innovations from IPA 2017 innovators and wish them the very best.”

Dr. El-Shafei patented the Smart Electro-Mechanical Actuator Journal Integrated Bearing (SEMAJIB). The smart bearing significantly improves turbine performance in single line combined cycle plants as well as conventional generator technology. Patented in the US since 2010 with another patent pending, the device is designed to be used to support energy generating turbines more efficiently and cost effectively in Africa. SEMAJIB is an innovation that does not currently exist in the West. Siemens has indicated interest in the device. A world class innovation originating from Africa, SEMAJIB reverses Africa’s image as a technology consumer to technology producer. Production of these bearings in Africa will also generate jobs and increase revenue for the continent’s teeming population.

Philippa Makobore showcased her Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed Infusion Set (ECFG). The device is designed to accurately administer intravenous (IV) fluids and drugs by controlling the rate of fluid flow based on feedback from a drop sensor. It is easy to operate and has key safety features, which include alarms for rate of infusion (rapid or slow), total volume (over or under) and faulty sensors. A battery utilizing a hybrid (AC mains and solar) charging bed powers the device.

IV infusions are critical for both adults and children in various situations. More than 10% of children admitted to East African hospitals need immediate infusion therapy. Findings from the FEAST trial indicate that over-infusion in children increased the absolute risk of death by 3.3 percent at 48 hours. Erroneous delivery rates can result into serious adverse effects.

Dr. Chris Nyan Dougbeh’s innovation is a new technology for the rapid and simultaneous detection of many infections, using only one test. For example, if a patient has yellow fever, malaria, and Ebola, which all have similar symptoms, Dougbeh’s apparatus can diagnose and differentiate them simultaneously. Also, whereas most testing methods take three to seven days, this device gives test results in ten to forty minutes. He is now working on the second prototype of this device.

Social Impact Prize winner, Chris Nyan Dougbeh (Liberia)

The AIF team, which organizes the annual event, says they hope the 2018 edition will see even more spectacular innovations than this year’s.

The Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), initiated in 2011, is an annual event that aims to strengthen the African innovation ecosystem by rewarding African innovators and mobilizing needed support and resources for them. IPA honours and encourages innovative achievements which contribute towards developing new products and increasing efficiency or saving costs in Africa. Specifically, IPA targets breakthroughs in the following key areas: manufacturing and service industry, health and well-being, agriculture and agribusiness, environment, energy and water and ICTs.

IPA catalyses innovation in Africa through providing a unique platform for showcasing innovative ideas that create value or solve old and new challenges. These include building the capacity of innovators across Africa, propelling African ingenuity, and preparing innovators for global markets.

IPA has generated a total of US$ 30 Million+ investment for African innovators (US$ 1 million direct support from AIF to winners and nominees and US$ 29 Million+ investments secured for winners and nominees).

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Cees Harmon14 Posts

    Cees (pronounced Case) is on the editorial team at He has been in the field of journalism for 11 years and counting. He relishes Banga soup with fufu.


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