Chairman and Editor-in-Chief at TRUE Africa
Increase Africa’s prosperity through investing in home-grown innovations and entrepreneurship
Strengthen African innovation ecosystems through our platforms and mobilize a network of innovation enablers, driving business development and cross-collaboration.
Demonstrate that African ingenuity exists at a Pan African level through honouring outstanding innovations and recognizing their positive impact in Africa and beyond
The Prize focuses on the following Innovation areas:
Each year, 10 nominees are selected through a rigorous and validated process driven by an expert panel of judges. The top three innovations are selected and the winners receive a share prize of US$ 150 000 with each nominee receiving a US$ 5 000 voucher. Meet the 45 best African innovators.
I have read with keen interest the African Innovation Foundation’s IPA journey during the last 5 years, seeking excellence and ingenuity in African innovators and inventors. Your ability to build and drive a brand around mobilising African innovators and entrepreneurs, who deliver market oriented solutions to African challenges and supporting them through your processes is unique and most relevant now than ever for our continent. I would like to emphasise that the future of Africa, as a continent, lies within our ability to be self-sustained in products and services, as well as in maintaining a steady growth of world class entrepreneurs in the Science Technology and Innovation space.
HE Lt. Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama
President of Republic of Botswana; IPA 2016 Awards ceremony, Gaborone
Accra| Ghana, Wednesday, July 19, 2017 The sixth edition of the coveted Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) culminated with a bang as the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) awarded three more African innovators for their incredible innovations. Out of the total of over 2500 applications, 10 nominees were selected, and from these Aly El-Shafei of Egypt emerged as the Grand Prize winner, with Philippa Ngaju Makobore of Uganda landing the Second Prize, and Dougbeh-Chris Nyan of Liberia winning the Special Prize for Social Impact. . . .[...]
Accra, Ghana - Thursday, 15 June, 2017 The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) today announced the top 10 nominees who will be contending for the 2017 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), to be awarded in Accra, Ghana on 18th July 2017. Innovators from nine African countries including Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe have been shortlisted for the prestigious Prize. . . .[...]
Accra, Ghana - Wednesday, 03 May, 2017 African Innovation Foundation (AIF) in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), and Ghana 60 Years On Planning Committee wish to announce that Ghana will host the most celebrated innovation event in Africa . . . .[...]
Gaborone, Botswana – 13 February 2017 The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) to officialise their partnership aiming at strengthening ecosystems and commercializing innovations in Botswana, as well as promoting a culture of entrepreneurship across the country. . . .[...]
Rabat, Morocco – 27 September 2016 The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) driver of The Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) is pleased to announce today the launch of the sixth edition of the IPA awards by calling for applications to the prestigious competition. The competition once again offers Africa’s top crop of innovators a share in a grand prize of US$150 000. . . .[...]
Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl joined the African Innovation Foundation in July 2011 as the IPA Program Director,f but is also responsible for managing the innovation and technology programs of the Foundation. Pauline focuses on cultivating market-orientated solutions for African-led development across the continent, building an innovation ecosystem that will invigorate economic growth across Africa.
Pauline has more than 15 years’ international development experience with organizations such as UNICEF and GTZ in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ENDA Tiers Monde in Senegal, and the Jewish Family and Children’s Service and TANGO International in the USA.
Prior to joining the AIF, she worked for the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement Foundation in USA. Pauline currently serves as a board member of the Flame Tree Initiative, a US-based NGO that focuses on using ICTs to address the digital divide through collaboration with African universities. She is also one of the Bellagio/PopTech Catalysts, a joint initiative between the Rockefeller Foundation and PopTech which brings together a global community of innovators and thought leaders from different fields to share insights and work together to create lasting change.
Pauline has a BA Honors degree in international studies from the University of Arizona with a core focus on sub-Saharan Africa development. She also has a Master’s degree in Poverty and Development from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex University, United Kingdom where she was a Fulbright Scholar. In addition, Pauline served as a Fulbright Fellow at UNESCO, Paris, focussing on freedom of expression, democracy and peace.
Pauline has a passion for people and their development, and dedicates her time towards ensuring the economic and social empowerment of Africans.Recently, she received the Social Responsibility Alumna Award from the University of Arizona Honors College for her commitment in promoting social responsibility throughout her life.
Robinson Esialimba joined the African Innovation Foundation in September 2013 as Process Manager, responsible for operational running of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) and related activities.
Prior to joining AIF, Robinson founded and was managing an online platform that provided African technology startups with business strategy consulting and connections to viable sources of financing.
Robinson comes with a wealth of management experience of over 10 years, having worked in senior management positions in international organizations and UN agencies in Africa and Europe. He was a Senior Technical Officer with the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva,Switzerland, advising on patent licensing for vaccine and pharmaceutical companies in Africa.
Robinson holds a law degree from the University of Nairobi in Kenya, and a Masters in Law from the University of Lund in Sweden, specializing in intellectual property law and innovation. In addition to intellectual property law, he has interests in private equity financing, international trade law and project management.
Laura Yuego is the IPA Program Officer. She joined AIF in 2013 and provides operational support to the program with a focus on francophone African innovation ecosystem. Her skills include project management, websites and platforms administration, translations and event organization.
Laura worked several years in Higher education as a Research Assistant at the Faculty of Law in the University of Yaoundé 2 (Cameroon). Laura has over seven years’ experience working in the nonprofit sector in Africa and Switzerland. Prior to joining AIF, Laura worked in project management for Swiss NGOs specialized in humanitarian emergency aid and development aid.
She holds a Master’s degree in African Business Law from the University of Yaounde 2 (Cameroon) and a Master’s degree in Management of projects in Africa from the University of Paris 11 (France).
Nokwethu (39 years) is a co-founders of Lakheni. Nokwethu has a background in business and marketing and event management. She holds a Post Graduate Business Administration Diploma and an MBA, both from University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business in South Africa. She is also involved in a number of charitable activities in South Africa.
Lakheni is a social and business model innovation which seeks to aggregate low-income households into buying-groups in order to negotiate favorable discounts for goods and services supplied to these households. Most poor people end up paying for goods and services at a unit price that is usually much higher than the unit price paid by other people with more disposable income. This is because as goods and services are packaged into smaller and smaller units to make them affordable they become less economically efficient and end up costing higher than if one was to buy in bulk or in larger units. In essence, the poor end up paying a poverty premium.
Through Lakheni, Nokwethu has developed an innovative business model that uses a mobile phone application to aggregate diverse women from townships in Cape Town who are parents in day-care centers or members of church groups into a buying group. She is then able to negotiate discounts and generate much needed savings to these low-income earners. She is helping them negotiate away the poverty premium. At the moment, service has focused on acquisition of food commodities and is looking to apply the same model to other sectors like financial services.
Peris Bosire (26 years) is a social entrepreneur and co-founder of FarmDrive. Peris has a First Class Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Nairobi. She is also a winner of the prestigious 2016 Queen’s Young Leaders Award from Her Majesty the Queen and the 2016 Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work.
FarmDrive is a financial technology company that has developed a mobile phone based application that collects data and provides an alternative risk assessment model for small holder farmers. While the continent remains largely dependent on agriculture, one of the biggest challenges facing smallholder farmers is access to credit or finance. Most financial institutions are reluctant to grant credit to farmers because their risk assessment models flag small farmers as being very risky.
FarmDrive has developed a new methodology for assessing credit worthiness of farmers that has led to higher acceptance rate of loan applications by farmers while maintaining a very low default rate. This could have the effect of significantly boosting agricultural production on the continent while helping financial institutions cost effectively increase their agricultural loan portfolios.
Gift Gana (34), is a tech entrepreneur and founder of award winning tech company, Avelgood Apps. He holds a BSc (Hons) Applied Physics degree from the National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe, and has also taken postgraduate courses in business management at the same institution.
Dr CADx is a computer aided diagnostic system that helps doctors and health care workers diagnose medical images more accurately. Due to the scarcity of radiologists on the continent, most medical images are read by general doctors or other health care workers who lack expertise and end up misdiagnosing more than 30% of the cases that they review. As a result, millions of patients fail to get the right treatment or the treatment is delayed leading to more complications like increased cost and complexity of treatment, spread of communicable disease and even death.
Dr CADx uses deep learning, a technology that simulates how the human brain works, to recognise patterns that are characteristic of the disease in the images. Once an image is transferred to a computer with the software installed, making a diagnosis is as easy as uploading a photo to Facebook and getting a diagnosis in a few seconds. The current prototype achieves an accuracy of 82% which is an improvement on the 70% average for radiologists. Additionally, Dr CADx is designed to work in low resource settings with poor internet connectivity opening it up for use in many rural settings in Africa.
Omolabake Adenle (35), is the founder of AJA.LA Studios, a startup building a platform of African language voice recognition and speech synthesis software. She holds a PhD in Bayesian Signal Processing from Cambridge University where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and Tau Beta Pi Honors Fellow.
Abake’s innovation is software that can understand and digitize spoken African languages, and synthesize speech from African languages presented as digitized text. Digitizing African languages in this way allows Africans to interact with hardware devices such as mobile phones, and digital services such as call-centre applications by speaking their local language. The software can be integrated into a wide range of devices and third-party software applications. While voice recognition and speech synthesis software have been developed for various Western and Asian languages, there has been very limited commercial application or academic research for African languages. The difficulty lies in modelling tonality present in most African languages, limited data resources for language modelling, and the challenge of modelling the plurality of African languages.
Using deep learning, Abake has developed complex algorithms and acoustic models for voice recognition and speech synthesis for two African languages. She is currently working on 14 native and colonial African languages, with Swahili and Yoruba available for testing. She is also currently working with various African retail banks and insurance companies on automating call-centre query resolution in local languages to help address issues of financial inclusion. This innovation can open access to the benefits of technology for illiterate Africans who can access phones. It is also relevant to urban Africans who wish to interact with digital services in native or colonial African languages.
Dr. Dougbeh Christopher Nyan (53), is a medical doctor, a biomedical research scientist, an inventor, and a social activist at the same time. He studied zoology and chemistry at the College of Science and Technology of the University of Liberia and earned a degree in human-medicine (infectious diseases) from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Medizinische Fakultät – Charité in Germany. He was later trained as a biomedical scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA.
Dougbeh has developed a rapid test that can detect and simultaneously differentiate at least three to seven infections at the same time within 10 to 40 minutes. In most African countries there is a lack of sophisticated diagnostic devices and limited expertise in high-tech diagnostics. This hinders the clinical decision-making ability of healthcare providers. His diagnostic test provides a solution to this clinical problem. Dougbeh’s innovation is easy to use in any setting. Additionally, the device is able to detect and distinguish multiple infections which bear the same symptoms for instance, when a patient has yellow fever, malaria, and Ebola. Whereas most testing methods take 3 – 7 days, Dougbeh's device gives test results in 10 – 40 minutes.
Dougbeh is currently working on the second prototype of his innovation after obtaining positive results from his first prototype. The results have been validated with human clinical samples, peer-reviewed and published in several respected scientific journals such as "Nature-Scientific Reports." His innovation has the potential of being a game changer in the continent in the detection and management of infectious diseases for quality patient-care.
Prof. Aly El-Shafei received his bachelor's degree and Master's degree from Cairo University, Egypt, and his Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) all in Mechanical Engineering. Dr. El-Shafei is a recipient of several grants and awards.
The patented innovation (SEMAJIB) presented by Dr. El-Shafei, is a smart bearing which is versatile and can change its characteristics as it operates. It consists of a magnetic bearing imbedded in an oil-filled journal bearing, thus forming the smart controllable bearing. There is a significant improvement in turbine performance using the SEMAJIB particularly in single line combined cycle plants, as well as conventional generator technology. This technology is patented in the US since 2010 and a newer version is patent pending also in the US.
The device is designed to be used to support energy generating turbines and can be used to improve efficiency and reduce costs of generating energy in Africa. Second this is an innovation that the West is striving to and does not currently have, as shown by Siemens' interest in the device. This is a worldwide innovation originating from Africa, thus reversing Africa's image as a technology consumer to become a technology producer. Third, producing these bearings in Africa would generate jobs and revenues to Africa, as it clearly can be exported to the West.
Philippa Ngaju Makobore has a BSc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alberta, Canada and a professional certificate in Embedded Systems Engineering from the University of California, Irvine, USA. She is a recipient of numerous healthcare awards.
Philippa’s innovation, the Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed Infusion Set (ECGF) is designed to accurately administer intravenous (IV) fluids and drugs by controlling the rate of fluid flow based on feedback from a drop sensor. It is easy to operate and has key safety features which include alarms for rate of infusion (rapid or slow), total volume (over or under) and faulty sensors. A battery utilizing a hybrid (AC mains and solar) charging bed powers the device.
IV infusions are critical for both adults and children in various situations. Over 10% of children admitted to East African hospitals need immediate infusion therapy. Findings from the FEAST trial indicates that over-infusion in children increased the absolute risk of death by 3.3 % at 48 hours. Erroneous delivery rates can result into serious adverse effects. The ECGF has the potential to save lives by providing accuracy and safety at 8% the cost of a brand new infusion pump.
Olanisun, is a Nigerian Physician and a Reader in Medicine at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. He has MBBS degree (University of Ibadan, Nigeria) and a postgraduate degree in Internal Medicine and Pulmonology from the Postgraduate Medical College Nigeria. He is a recipient of several awards.
Olanisun’s innovation, Sweat TB Test, is a non-invasive rapid diagnostic test to detect tuberculosis (TB). TB is second only to HIV/AIDS as a leading cause of death in Africa. Available methods are high tech; cannot be deployed in rural centers, dependent only sputum which may not be possible and considered messy by patients. It is time consuming with patients making repeated clinic visits before a diagnosis is made. Delay in diagnosis and missed diagnosis of 3million TB cases occur leading to continuous spread of the disease.
Sweat TB Test leverages on TB specific marker in sweat of patients, to produce a point- of- care test to detect TB, within ten minutes, without any needle prick. In simple steps, reports are read and patients commenced on medication as needed at the same clinic visit. It has the potential to contribute towards effectively controlling TB, reduce TB related deaths and holds promise to prevent drug resistance TB in Africa.
Nzola Swasisa is a radio communications technician from the Congo DRC. Nzola has decades of experience working with telecommunications infrastructure and non-profits in underserved communities in the DRC, Angola, Zambia, Mozambique and Namibia.
Nzola’s innovation, Lokole, is a device that enables access to efficient email communication anywhere with cellular coverage at a price that is one hundred to one thousand times cheaper than accessing email via regular cellular bandwidth costs. Lokole achieves this firstly by creating a shareable local area network where up to a hundred users within a 25 meters radius can access the network and share the costs. Secondly, it contains advanced algorithms that compress email and also schedules the uploads and downloads of data to when data bundles costs are at their cheapest. Costs per user could be as little as $0.01/person/day.
More than 71% of the African population doesn’t have access to efficient communications. Lokole solves this communication problem and enables many communities to access efficient communication for the first time. Applications of Lokole include: health (remote-doctor), education (remote-teacher), commerce (purchase orders via email), business (attachment documents) and many more.
Badr Idrissi is CEO and Co-Founder of ATLAN Space® a deep-technology startup. He is a former Microsoft Senior Account Executive, who holds an MBA from École des Ponts Business School (Paris) and a Telecommunication Engineering Degree from ENSA.
Atlan Space develops software technology that is then deployed to manage the operations of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. The software is currently tested for use in managing operations in detecting illegal or harmful maritime activity such as illegal fishing or oil spills over wide expanse areas. UAVs operated by this software can be launched and deployed into monitoring operations without having an aircraft operator. Also, by using Artificial Intelligence they are able to collect data, analyze and produce actionable reports.
African governments face numerous challenges in monitoring activities and operation over wide areas. This includes border patrols, deforestation, animal poaching and maritime activity. The software allows for the deployment of UAVs at a very cost effective price because it does not require an operator or long range transmission equipment or data analyst.
Regional Director East Africa – Bankable Frontier Associates
Chairwoman and former IPA judge
Amolo is the East Africa Regional Director of Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA), a consulting company specializing in financial services for low income populations. One of BFA’s flagship projects includes financial diaries chronicling the lives of
low income individuals in several African countries. Until 2015, she was Managing Director of Digital Divide Data Kenya Ltd (DDD), a social enterprise that provides data and research services to companies and governments employing young people from
disadvantaged backgrounds while supporting their higher education.
Amolo joined DDD after a stint at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where she was Deputy Director, Financial Services, in the Global Development Program. As Deputy Director she worked to improve the scale, range and impact of financial services available to the poor in developing countries. Prior to her work at the Gates Foundation, Amolo was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Trust for African Rock Art, Nairobi. Prior to that she served as co-founder of Africa Online, East Africa's first internet provider that operated in eight countries before being bought over by Telkom South Africa. Amolo holds a B.A. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University and a Master's in Public Affairs from Princeton University.
Professor, Department of Organic Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon
Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Teaching, Professionalization and Development of ICT, University of Bamenda, Cameroon
Professor Nyasse Barthelemy has lectured at the University of Yaounde since 1986 after obtaining his PhD in Chemistry of Materials, alternating between the University of Yaounde (Faculty of Science, Department of Organic Chemistry) and the National
Museum of Natural History Paris (Chemistry Laboratory). After two years of academic services at the university, he joined the University of Uppsala for his second PhD, awarded to him in 1995.
After living in Sweden for six years—where he interned with multi-national pharmaceutical companies, acquiring knowledge on the protection of Intellectual Property (IP) assets and knowledge transfer—he returned to the University of Yaounde in 1995 where he was appointed Professor of Master in 2005. He is also an Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch in South Africa. He teaches organic chemistry and research methodologies in scientific research at the University of Yaoundé and the University of Bamenda. He is the author of several scientific publications on the chemistry of natural products, IP and organic synthesis.
Regional Head – East Africa, Fieldstone Private Capital Group
Dr. Catherine Adeya-Weya is an Information Scientist with knowledge and skills in information development issues. These include the social, political and economic potential and impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) particularly in
Africa. Dr. Adeya has over 20 years’ experience in ICT research, having worked for agencies such as the United Nations University/Institute for New Technologies (UNU-INTECH) in the Netherlands.
Dr. Adeya has been published widely in the field of ICTs for Development. She served as the Vision Sector Director for Business Process Outsourcing/Information Technology Enabled Services (BPO/ITES) at the Ministry of Information and Communications in Kenya from 2012-2013. Her job involved providing strategic leadership for the development of key flagship ICT projects in the Ministry which included Konza Techno City and the National Broadband Strategy. She was the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KOTDA), the agency responsible for spearheading the development of Konza Techno City - the first mixed use technology city in Kenya.
Dr Adeya was the Chief Judge in the first Vision 2030 ICT Innovation Awards in Kenya. She serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Perspectives on Global Development & Technology.
Nationality: South African
Chairman – The Innovation Hub Management Company (TIHMC)
Honorary juror and former IPA validator
Dr. Nhlanhla Msomi’s career has spanned research, academia, corporate advisory and entrepreneurship. He worked as a molecular geneticist focusing on genetic mapping of complex polyploids, before joining the Durban University of Technology (Microbial
Biochemistry and Genetics). He quit academia to co-found a biotechnology investment holdings company, with interests in a Molecular Pathology start (BioPath Laboratories) and a large Bioprocess company (SA Bioproducts). Dr. Msomi has served as a partner
in a corporate advisory firm (now Quartile Capital) responsible for, inter alia, the operationalisation of the Kwa Zulu Natal (KZN) Growth Fund, a public-private partnership fund and establishing an investment ventures division. He was also a member
of the founding Investment Committee of the Southern African Intellectual Property Fund. He is currently group CEO of MSQ Health (a company of Safika Holdings’ healthcare portfolio).
He has intermittently returned to public service, first as the CEO of the East Coast Biotechnology Regional Innovation Centre and then interim CEO of the Technology Innovation Agency. He has also served on the Boards of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Council (CSIR), National Advisory Committee on Innovation (NACI), and South African Society of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (as President). In addition to chairing the TIHMC board, he is a member of the Board of Governors at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB).
Assistant Professor - Science, Technology & Society, University of Virginia(UVA), School of Technology
Former IPA validator
Dr. Odumosu’s academic work focuses on telecommunication policy and the engineering of mobile systems on the African continent. His work touches on communications research, the development of national engineering infrastructures and the growth of trans-national
markets across the continent. He has conducted research on mobile communications in Nigeria and South Africa, and undertaken a comparative study of the development and emergence of the telecommunications industry in the European Union and United States.
In addition to teaching, conducting research at UVA and consulting at PF Systems, one of the most innovative and successful professional audio design firms in Nigeria, Dr. Odumosu is also a research associate at Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Business. He has just completed a book on the importance of science and technology policy, and research cultures to innovation and the competitiveness of nations.