African Innovation Foundation releases its top ten nominees for the IPA awards

The African Innovation Foundation, AIF has announced its top 10 nominees for its prestigious $185,000 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) 2018 awards. Each year, 10 nominees are selected in a validated process driven by an expert panel of judges. After face-to-face pitching sessions, the top three winners are selected. IPA winners and nominees receive a prize share of $185,000 and additional incentives.

Submissions this year see significant breakthroughs in ICT, agri-business, public health and the environment/ energy sectors to improve the lives and economic prospects of Africans.

“Now in its seventh year running, we have witnessed multi-million dollar businesses emerging from the IPA initiative, with health, environment/energy and agricultural innovations leaving imprints across the African continent and beyond,” AIF Chairman Walter Fust says in a statement. “Our theme this year prompts the need for increased collaboration between government, business, industry, innovation enablers and the community to further realise African prosperity and economic freedom,” he concluded.

This year’s Call for Applications with its theme “African innovation: Investing in Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems” attracted more than 3,000 applications from 52 African countries. Out of which only the top 10 IPA nominees whose innovations are in the sectors of agri-business, public health and well-being, ICT, energy, environment and water emerged.

A Biodegradable seed tray for rice farming by Juslain Nomenjanahary Raharinaivo (Madagascar) features on the award nominees list. “Rice is a staple food in many African countries, the statement reads. “With an ongoing demand for increased rice production, some African countries are not self-sufficient. In Madagascar, seeds are therefore sowed in innovative pots made of paper, called BG or biodegradable germinators. Growers transplant seedlings into easy-to-transplant clumps with very high tilling capacity which also increases rice yields and allow possibilities to expand the area under cultivation.”

Mr. Wassim Chahbani’s Buried Diffuser (Tunisia), an equipment which “saves irrigation water, energy, and use of fertilizers, reducing zero water waste through evaporation” by injecting water directly to the roots, also makes its way into the top ten. And Professor Abdeladim Moumen and Dr. Hassan Ait Benhassou’s Efficient detection of TB and Hepatitis C (Morocco) may be awarded for two molecular tests developed for the rapid, accurate, low cost, and effective detection and load quantification of both diseases.

Other nominees involve an eNose sensor for tea processing by Abraham Natukunda  (Uganda), Incas Vaginal Discharge Kit by Dr. Laud Anthony Basing (Ghana), “iThrone” portable toilet by Dr. Diana Yousef  (Egypt), Mobile Shiriki Network by Henri Nyakarundi (Rwanda), Natural solutions for skeletal regeneration and repair by Prof. Keolebogile Shirley Motaung (South Africa). Also the reduction of pollution in an eco-friendly way using GKSORB! By Dr Fohla Mouftaou (Benin), and Waxy II Technology by Christian Mwijage (Tanzania)

The IPA initiative continues to reward and honour top African innovators while also building strategic partnerships with innovation enablers to strengthen innovation ecosystems in Africa. The carefully selected team of expert judges for the IPA are drawn from across Africa, and include Yacouba Diawara (Burkina Faso) and Eliane Ubalijoro (Rwanda).

Since inauguration, AIF has supported 55 IPA winners/nominees with more than $1 million and mobilized over 9,400 innovators from 55 African countries. AIF endorsement and exposure generated through IPA have seen past winners securing over $135 million worth of investments to scale their businesses. IPA past winners and nominee company valuations amount to over $200 million.

“We are proud of the impressive innovations that made it to the top 10 this year, Managing Director of AIF, Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl who has steered the IPA program since its establishment in 2011, said. “They are evident examples of African ingenuity and each innovation is solving a real challenge in a key sector. Africa, and indeed the rest of the world, must keep an eye out – these innovations are ready to propel our continent’s global competitiveness in the market! Furthermore, these top 10 nominees are a great reminder that if given access to capital, Africans are capable of solving African challenges whilst also contributing to the rest of the world,” Koelbl concluded.

The Grand Prize winner will receive $100,000, the Second Prize winner $25,000 while the Special Prize For Social Impact Innovation receives $25,000. 7 nominees will each recieve a voucher worth $5,000.

Previous IPA editions have been hosted in every region in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia(2012); Cape Town, South Africa(2013); Abuja, Nigeria(2014); 2015: Skhirat, Morocco; 2016: Gaborone, Botswana; and Accra, Ghana (2017). The date for the IPA 2018 Awards event will be communicated in due course.