Two Kenyans - Daniel Gitau Thairu of Domestic Waste Biogas System and Joshua Okello of WinSenga - have emerged among 10 finalists in the 2014 edition of the Innovation Prize for Africa organized by the African Innovation Foundation (AIF).
Daniel Thairu's Domestic Waste Biogas System's is a new type of biogas digester which utilizes any material capable of decomposing instead of relying on animal dung to generate gas. Materials that can be used include dirty water, leftover food, spoiled grain, and vegetable and fruit peelings. This makes biogas usable even by households that cannot afford animals.
Joshua Okello's WinSenga on the hand is a low-cost mobile phone-based antenatal diagnosis kit that captures foetal heart beat sounds and provides diagnosis which is sent to the mother through SMS. The data can also be uploaded to cloud storage.
The finalists have created practical solutions to some of the continent's most intractable problems and were chosen from almost 700 applications from 42 countries. According to AIF, the finalists for the IPA 2014 represent Africans' potential to address the challenges that are unique to the continent.
The winners of the IPA 2014 will be announced at an awards ceremony on May 5 in Abuja, Nigeria. The winner will receive US $ 100,000 (Kshs 8.6 million) for the best innovation based on marketability, originality, scalability, social impact and clear business potential. A runner up will receive US $ 25 000 (Kshs 2.15 million) for the best commercial potential and another winner will receive USD 25 000 as a special prize for innovation with the highest social impact. Prior to the awards ceremony, a roundtable featuring innovation experts will take place, to address the theme "A Path to Building Industrial Nation Skillsets in Africa".
"As global leaders gather for the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa to discuss approaches to inclusive growth and job creation, the IPA 2014 innovators demonstrate that the best way to achieve equitable economic growth for all Africans is to invest in local innovation and entrepreneurship," said Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, founder of AIF and IPA.
Other finalists are Ashley Uys (South Africa) of OculusID Impairment Screening, a device designed to measure pupil response to light emissions. The pupil response can then be measured against pre-determined benchmarks. These benchmarks are applied to measure substance abuse, physiological defects and even fatigue. The device is a far less invasive procedure than existing methods.
The other is Elise Rasel Cloete (South Africa) of GMP Traceability Management Software, a software programmed to capture, store and trace data about livestock and enables data to be captured in real-time. The data is then stored in an ear tag placed on livestock and backed up on a remote server.
Overall, South Africa had 4 finalists; Kenya had 2 while Nigeria, Niger, Togo and Ethiopia each had one finalist.
The complete list of finalists and their projects can be obtained from this link.