Four from SA among top African innovators

Ashley Uys (Supplied)
Ashley Uys (Supplied)
Johannesburg - Four South Africans are among the ten African innovators chosen from almost 700 applications from 42 countries as finalists in the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) 2014.

The awards are presented by the African Innovation Foundation (AIF).

The AIF believes that the best solutions to the challenges Africans face on a daily basis can and will come from Africans themselves and innovation is the key.

The IPA selection committee represents private equity investors, seed funders, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, innovation catalysts and development leaders who are looking for ideas that move Africa forward.

The finalists' innovations have created practical solutions to some of the continent’s biggest problems, from a domestic waste biogas system to a wafer matrix for paediatric antiretroviral (ARV) drug treatment.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held on May 5 in Abuja, Nigeria.

The winner will receive $100 000 for the best innovation based on marketability, originality, scalability, social impact and clear business potential.

A second winner will receive $25 000 for the best commercial potential and a third winner will receive $25 000 as a special prize for the innovation with the highest social impact.

“As global leaders gather for the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa to discuss approaches to inclusive growth and job creation, the IPA 2014 innovators demonstrate that the best way to achieve equitable economic growth for all Africans is to invest in local innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, founder of the AIF and the IPA.

The South African finalists are:

Ashley Uys of OculusID Impairment Screening, a device designed to measure pupil response to light emissions.

The pupil response can then be measured against pre-determined benchmarks.

These benchmarks are applied to measure substance abuse, physiological defects and even fatigue.

The device is a far less invasive procedure than existing methods.

Elise Rasel Cloete of GMP Traceability Management Software, which is programmed to capture, store and trace data about livestock and enables data to be captured in real-time.

The data is then stored in an ear tag placed on livestock and backed up on a remote server.

Dr Nicolaas Duneas of Altis Osteogenic Bone Matrix, the world’s first injectable bone-graft product containing a complex mix of various bone growth compounds derived from porcine (pig).

It is used to stimulate the host’s own tissue regeneration system in a way that leads to the healing of a fracture or bone void.

Viness Pillay of WaferMatTM, a tasty paediatric formulation of ARV therapy in the form of a wafer that dissolves within three seconds of being placed in the mouth.

The wafer makes the process of administering the drug to children easier and also makes absorption more efficient.

Finalists from other African countries:

Daniel Gitau Thairu of Domestic Waste Biogas System in Kenya, a new type of biogas digester, which utilises any material capable of decomposing instead of relying on animal dung to generate gas.

Joshua Okello WinSenga in Kenya, a low-cost mobile phone-based antenatal diagnosis kit.

Logou Minsob Foufoumix in Togo, a device designed to replace the mortar and pestles used in preparing the popular West African dish, foufou.

Maman Abdou Kane of Horticultural Tele-Irrigation in Niger, a technological process that allows growers to remotely control their garden irrigation system through a mobile phone or landline, regardless of geographic location.

Melesse Temesgen of Aybar BBM in Ethiopia, a low-cost farming device that can be used by farmers to plough fields that are usually waterlogged and helps them drain the water easily.

Sulaiman Bolarinde Famro of Farmking Mobile Multi-crop Processor in Nigeria, which uses centrifugal forces to process cassava, sweet potatoes, soy, she-nuts, grains and cereals.

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