Moroccan, Kenyan and South African innovators in agriculture and health beat out 900-plus applicants from 41 countries for cash prizes at the Innovation Prize for Africa 2015 awards.
Adnane Remmal won the top prize of $100,000 for his work on a patented alternative to livestock antibiotics that is expected to help African farmers improve livestock production and prevent transmission of resistant germs to humans.
Kenyan entrepreneur Alex Mwaura Muriu won $25,000 for his system developed to meet the perennial challenge African farmers face in accessing financing for planting and harvesting. Muriu’s Farm Capital Africa project provides an alternative to financial loans.
Lesley Erica Scott, a South African scientist, developed Smartspot TBCheck, a calibration method for TB diagnostics machines approved by the World Health Organization. TB is second most common cause of death in Africa after HIV and AIDS. Scott also received $25,000.
The awards were held at an award ceremony in Skhirat, Morocco hosted by the African Innovation Foundation and Morocco’s Ministry of Industry, Trade, Investment and Digital Economy. Youssour N’Dour, a Senegalese musical legend, was one of the entertainers at the event.
What this year’s winners have in common is the ability to respond directly to demanding community needs, the foundation said in a prepared statement. Their innovations demonstrate the potential to change the way Africans respond to health, technology, enterprise and agriculture through cost effective means — crucial for sustainable development.
“African innovators are taking flight, their innovative ideas are increasingly proving to be transformative, not only for Africa but for the world,” said Jean Claude Bastos de Morais, founder of the African Innovation Foundation. “The Innovation Prize for Africa and African Innovation Foundation are fostering the development of robust innovation ecosystems, which are essentially nests for African entrepreneurs and innovators to develop solutions for African challenges.”
Young people below age 35 represent 65 percent of Africa’s 1.1 billion population and are the epicenter of the African innovation ecosystem, according to the foundation.