Sixteen innovators from eight African countries, including Botswana for the first time, have been shortlisted for the 10th Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
The Africa Prize, launched in 2014 by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering, demonstrates how ambitious engineering innovators are protecting the environment and transforming the continent’s economy through scalable solutions. Africa Prize innovators are working to address pan-African and international challenges, including adapting food and water systems for climate resilience, developing low-carbon energy and transport solutions, and improving telecommunications, education, financial services and healthcare.
Shortlisted innovations for the 2024 Africa Prize include roof tiles made from recycled plastic, early detection of agricultural pests and diseases, environmental monitoring of chicken farms, and a fabric made from fungi grown on human waste.
Also featured are innovations aimed at healthier methods of cooking, including low-smoke briquettes made from biowaste, a solar-induction oven and hob, and a biodigester that uses organic waste to generate gas. Clean energy solutions include a large-scale power pack made from repurposed electric vehicle batteries, a solar dryer to enhance small fish farming, and converted electric motorbikes with replaceable batteries.
Other innovations include an automated storage locker, a domestic alert for deaf people, a plug-in device to transform any screen into a computer, and a healthcare platform based on WhatsApp.
Engineering is a fundamental enabler of development and is linked to all the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, impacting healthcare, education, gender equality and the environment. Engineering is also a driver of the African Agenda 2063, the African Union’s blueprint for development over the next 50 years, where it is described as supporting the continent’s goal of being “integrated, prosperous and peaceful… driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena”.
By being shortlisted for the Africa Prize, innovators benefit from support including business incubation, mentoring, fundraising and communication. They also gain access to the Academy’s global network of high-profile engineering and business experts in the UK, Africa and beyond.
Judges, mentors, and expert reviewers for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation have provided more than 4000 hours of support to entrepreneurs since the prize was established, equivalent to more than £10.4 million.
“Winning the Prize opened our business up to many opportunities and provided exposure for our solution to the local and international market,” said 2020 Africa Prize winner Charlette N’Guessan from Côte d’Ivoire in 2023, the first woman to win the prize. “I am happy to see the Africa Prize has inspired many young woman innovators to break down barriers.”
Four finalists will be chosen from the shortlist to present their innovations and business plans to judges at the Africa Prize final in Nairobi, Kenya, in June 2024. The winner will receive £25,000, with three runners up awarded £10,000 each. A One-to-Watch award of £5,000 will be made for the most impactful pitch, as voted by the audience. In 2024, the audience will include some 80 Africa Prize alumni from the last ten years.
Africa Prize alumni have supported more than 10 million beneficiaries through their products or services. They have also created more than 28,000 jobs – including more than 21,000 jobs for women and more than 500 jobs for persons with disabilities – and raised more the USD 39 million in grants and equity funding, directly contributing to 15 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Africa Prize judge Sewu-Steve Tawia said, “The 16 innovators shortlisted for this year’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation are contributing to key Sustainable Development Goals including no poverty, health and wellbeing, quality education, affordable and clean energy, reduced inequalities, and climate action. What sets these 16 people apart is their determination to solve local challenges, contribute to job creation and seizing the opportunity to scale their innovation across Africa. In its tenth year, the Africa Prize is proud to elevate these local changemakers to global engineering innovators.”