VENTURES AFRICA – Nigeria’s Justus Nwaoga has developed a new way to collect renewable solar energy by using mimosa pudica weed, an organic African medicinal plant.
Chosen from more than 900 applications from 45 countries, Nwaoga and nine others with their teams have emerged finalists for the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) after developing practical solutions to some of the continent’s most intractable problems.
The winners of the IPA 2013 will be announced at a gala dinner on 7th of May in Cape Town, South Africa, hosted by the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business and the Sekunjalo Development Foundation.
The winner will receive $100,000 for the best innovation based on marketability, originality, scalability, social impact and clear business potential. A runner up will receive $25, 000 for the best commercial potential and another finalist will receive $25, 000 as a special prize for social innovation.
“As global leaders gather for the World Economic Forum on Africa to discuss approaches to deliver on Africa’s promise, these innovators demonstrate that the best way to build Africa’s capacity is to invest in local innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, a co-founder of the African Innovation Foundation and the IPA.
From Tunisa to South Africa, the IPA 2013 finalists include Hassine Labaied and Anis Aouini from Tunisian R&D startup Saphon Energy, who both developed a wind turbine with no blades; Dr. Dudley Jackson, innovator of waterless toilet for rural areas and temporary settlements that separates liquids from solids to improve environmental impact, decrease the potential for disease, reduce odour and ensure easier removal; South African Professor, Eugene Cloete, who created a water filter that uses electrospun tea bag material to ensure one litre of the most polluted water is 100 percent safe to drink.
The amazing African innovators also include Ashley Uys, creator of a new rapid malaria test that indicates within 30 minutes if treatment is effective, which is one of only nine developed globally and is the only test of its kind fully-owned by an African company; Andi Friedman and his team has developed a software that provides mobile data collection and field research solution, allowing sophisticated forms of research to be conducted across Africa online or via mobile phones.
“We see a strong trend emerging of innovations that have significant social impact for Africa,” said Dr.Francois Bonnici, Director Bertha Centre for Social Innovation at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.
The prize encourages Africans to develop creative ways to overcome everyday challenges.
The IPA selection committee represents private equity investors, seed funders, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and development leaders who are looking for ideas that move Africa forward.
The call for applications for IPA 2014 will be announced in July 2013.