Ugandan Makes Finals for Top Engineering Prize With Malaria Detection Device

Brian Gitta, centre, has been named a finalist for the prestigious Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.

A Ugandan man has been named a finalist for the prestigious Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.

Brian Gitta, a computer scientist, has invented 'Matibabu' a device that tests for malaria quickly, accurately and without drawing blood. It is a low cost, reusable device that clips onto the user's finger.

The results are available within one minute and no special expertise is required to operate it.

A red beam of laser light shone through the user's finger detects changes in the shape, colour and concentration of red blood cells, all of which are affected by malaria.

Of the 400,000 global deaths every year due to malaria, 90% are in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria kills more children under five in this region than HIV. All available tests for malaria require blood samples, which are invasive, expensive and time-consuming, and rely on well-resourced laboratories.

The finalists come from Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe. They were chosen for engineering innovations that provide new solutions. The finalists were selected from a pool of 16 shortlisted candidates from seven countries spanning sub-Saharan Africa.

"All four of our finalists have found novel ways to address critical challenges in their home countries - in fact, problems that are faced all over the world," said Africa Prize judge, Rebecca Enonchong. "We're proud to be part of the development of world-class African technologies, and to support emerging African entrepreneurs."

The four finalists will pitch their innovations to a panel of judges and a live audience in Nairobi, Kenya, on Friday 13 June 2018. The winner will be announced at the event and will receive £25,000 with £10,000 awarded to each of the runners up.

Brian hopes to become the Africa' Prize's first Ugandan winner.

Other Ugandan candidates on the 2018 Africa Prize shortlist are Alvin Kabwama from UriSAF Maternal and Sexual Reproductive Health Care Kit, Arthur Woniala with Khainza Energy Gas, Lawrence Okettayot with Sparky Dryer (a low-tech dehydrator that dries fruit and vegetables to extend their shelf life and reduce food wastage).

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, is a prize dedicated to engineering innovation. It encourages talented sub-Saharan African engineers, from all disciplines, to develop local solutions to challenges in their communities.

The Prize selects innovators from across the continent and provides training and mentoring to help turn engineers with incredible ideas into successful entrepreneurs.

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