Nigerian Among 10 Finalists For African Innovation Prize

nwaoga_98479A Nigerian scientist has been named among the ten finalists for the $100,000 Innovation Prize for Africa.

Justus Nwaoga developed a new way to collect renewable solar energy by using the mimosa pudica weed, an organic African medicinal plant. The Mimosa weed has the ability to close its leaves when touched, open at sunrise and fold at sunset. The obvious control by the sun and photovoltaic response in live mimosa plants generated the plant’s solar energy potential.

“The innovation is based on constructing bioaccumulators using the electrolytes derived from the Mimosa plant. Solar cells constructed with the weed extracts and exposed to sunlight were found to accumulate solar energy which were transformed to electrical energy. The stored electric energy is subsequently developed for various domestic and industrial electrical appliances”, said a short biography of Nwaoga published on the web site of the Innovation Prize for Africa.

The 10 African innovators were selected from more than 900 applications from 45 countries for developing practical solutions to some of the continent’s most intractable problems.

The nine other finalists include:

– Hassine Labaied and Anis Aouini from Saphon Energy, a Tunisian R&D start up, who jointly developed a wind turbine with no blades that does not rotate – it uses sailboat technology to create cost-effective energy through a back-and-forth 3D motion.

– Dr. Dudley Jackson, from South Africa, who developed a 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.

– Prof. Eugene Cloete, South African, 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.

Another innovator is Ashley Uys, also from South Africa. He created a new rapid malaria test that indicates within 30 minutes if treatment is effective. The test kit is one of only nine developed globally and is the only test of its kind fully-owned by an African company.

Sanoussi Diakite, from Senegal also qualified for developing an electric and thermal powered machine that husks 5 kilograms of fonia – a West African cereal – in just 8 minutes.

Njokikang Faustinus from Cameroon was selected for creating an efficient construction process. Its flagship product is a manual brick press that more easily produces 3,000 interlocking bricks per day.

Andi Friedman and his team from South Africa were picked over 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.

Sudanese Muna Majoud Mahoamed Ahmed created an agro-foresty model farm in Khartoum that produces innovative sources of income from moringa leaves, seeds and jatrofa seeds.

Also selected was a team of researchers from AgriProtien Technologies for developing a new source of animal feed protein that lowers the cost of feed for African producers and farmers.

“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 finalists for the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) 2013 provide practical examples of Africa’s investment potential,” said a statement by the Africa Press Organisation.

The winners of the IPA 2013 will be announced at a gala dinner on 7 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 USD 100 000 for the best innovation based on marketability, originality, scalability, social impact and clear business potential. A runner up will receive USD 25 000 for the best commercial potential and another winner will receive USD 25 000 as a special prize for social innovation.

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