The second round of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), which aims to reward innovation across Africa in key sectors of interest, was launched today at a press conference organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
Addressing journalists, Ms. Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director of the ICT, Science and Technology Division (ISTD) of the ECA said,“Our focus is the future we innovate. It’s based on the core belief that the best way to predict the future is to create it. It is a call to action across Africa. To develop our own solutions, bring together our best minds and all our resources.” She added “It’s a global invitation to link arms and use our potential, create efficiencies, and commercialize the very best ideas. This is the future Africa deserves”.
Ms. Opoku-Mensah explained that researchers are invited to propose projects that unlock new African potential under one or more areas which include manufacturing and Service Industry; Agriculture/agribusiness; ICTs; Health and Wellbeing; and Environment, Energy and Water.
She emphasized the selection criteria, which include market potential, impact, scalability, originality, utility and technical aspects and informed journalists that the winning proposal would be awarded a cash prize of US$ 100,000, with two runner-ups receiving each US$ 25,000. The registration deadline for the 2013 prize has been set for 31 October 2012 with no possibility for extensions.
Ms. Opoku-Mensah reminded journalists that in the first phase of the competition, 458 applicants from 38 countries submitted their projects for consideration, reflecting the strong entrepreneurial spirit and the high potential of innovations in Africa.
An Egyptian engineer, Mohammed Sanad, who has designed a base-station antenna that can facilitate upgrades to more advanced mobile networks in developing countries has become the first winner of the Innovation Prize for Africa. The runner up, Zeinou Abdelyamine, an industrial chemist from Algeria, received US$50,000 for his research and development of environmentally friendly, natural insecticides and rodenticides.
She further reiterated that the organizers expect the prize to promote among young African men and women the pursuit of science, technology and engineering careers and business applications.
The aims are to:
- Mobilize leaders from all sectors to fuel African innovation;
- Promote innovation across Africa in key sectors of interest through the competition;
- Promote science, technology and engineering as rewarding, exciting and noble career options among the youth in Africa by profiling success applicants; and
- Encourage entrepreneurs, innovators, funding bodies and business development service providers to exchange ideas and explore innovative business opportunities.
In pursuing those aims, the AIP expects the following outcomes:
- Increased commercialization of research and development (R&D) outputs in Africa;
- Increased funding of start-ups, adoption of new and emerging technologies and accelerated growth of an innovative and dynamic private sector; and
- Increased economic activity and African led development that results in lasting impact.