It has been announced that Noël N’guessan, a chemical engineer from Côte d’Ivoire, has been selected to receive the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation in 2021. A biowaste equipment invention for smallholder farmers in West Africa, Kubeko was developed and patented by N’guessan and his colleagues. Kubeko allows smallholder farmers to make more revenue from the by-products of their crops without adding any more work.
This low-cost biowaste processing equipment is comprised of a composter and a biodigester, both of which are particularly intended to ferment agricultural post-harvest by-products into solid and liquid compost, in addition to cooking gas and other goods.
Approximately 30 million tonnes of garbage are disposed of each year in Côte d’Ivoire, according to N’guessan. “Biowaste equals two to five times the number of crops or goods sold,” he explained. By reusing this trash, Kubeko can assist Ivorians in generating more revenue, resulting in a significant improvement in the living conditions of thousands of farmers and their families.
N’guessan wins the first prize of £25,000, which is awarded to him (19 058 427,00 West African CFA). At the virtual awards event, which took place on July 8, 2021, four finalists gave presentations in front of a panel of Africa Prize judges, and a live audience voted for the most promising technical innovation in the field of agriculture.
“We were really pleased with the professionalism of the APEI, which added value to our company.” The job was difficult, and I’d like to share this honor with our entire team,” N’guessan stated.
Engineering Innovation that provide solutions to critical issues
The Africa Reward for Engineering Innovation, established by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the United Kingdom in 2014, is Africa’s largest prize dedicated to engineering innovation, and it has a demonstrated track record of discovering successful engineering entrepreneurs across the continent. This initiative, which is now in its eighth year, assists sub-Saharan African entrepreneurs in developing technical ideas that solve critical challenges in local communities in a novel and suitable manner.
Since being selected for the Africa Prize, the Kubeko team has made significant progress in lowering its production costs from $800 to $700, allowing them to make their products more affordable for consumers. The team has constructed two biodigesters that are now operating on cassava farms, and they have installed 50 composters on cocoa, palm oil, and mango fields to far. Also in Côte d’Ivoire, Kubeko has been contracted by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MESD) to teach stakeholders on the usage of Kubeko as part of that department’s national composting and biowaste plan.
We were really pleased with the Kubeko solution, which has the potential to significantly improve the lives of many farmers in West Africa, according to Ibilola Amao, the Africa Prize’s chief judge. “We believe Kubeko will make a significant contribution to the region’s sustainable energy and agriculture.”
Mentoring and training are provided.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, sixteen shortlisted Africa Prize entrepreneurs from eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were selected to participate in an eight-month training and mentoring program. During this time, they developed their business plans and learned how to market their engineering innovation. A coach worked with the group on how to communicate effectively, keep the emphasis on the client, and approach potential investors with confidence.
It also exposes and links the shortlisted entrepreneurs to persons and networks in the United Kingdom as well as in other African countries who may help them accelerate their business and technological growth – from fellow entrepreneurs and mentors to prospective investors and suppliers.
The three runners up, who each receive £10,000, are:
- BlueAvo, Indira Tsengiwe from South Africa – a digital platform on which African creatives can collaborate and sell services as an agency-alternative that is rich in diversity, and places African creatives at the world’s fingertips.
- Make3D Medical, Juka Fatou Darboe from The Gambia – uses 3D printing to create customised orthopaedic equipment for medical institutions and their patients.
- Social Lender, Faith Adesemowo from Nigeria – a financial services solution that uses social reputation scoring to provide credit scores to those who would otherwise not qualify for formal financial services.
The other 12 candidates shortlisted for the Africa Prize 2021 were:
- Aevhas, Jacob Azundah from Nigeria – a high-efficiency machine used to process cassava roots into the West African diet staple, garri.
- Biopackaging, Armelle Sidje from Cameroon – a sustainable manufacturing process that transforms banana and plantain stems to biodegradable paper packaging products.
- CodeLn, Elohor Thomas from Nigeria – an automated tech recruitment platform that supports software engineering recruitment by connecting companies with talented people in the field and helps test their coding abilities.
- Dissolv Bioplastic, Tshepo Mangoele from South Africa – a bioplastic made from plant waste material, which is compostable and dissolves in water at pre-determined rates.
- I3S, Marie Ndieguene from Senegal – a sustainably made and affordable storage space solution made from diverted landfill waste, designed to solve the problem of post-harvest loss in agriculture.
- Jumeni Field Service Software, Eyram Amedzor from Ghana – software that assists service-based businesses by providing a three-part cloud-based application to help increase the productivity of their field teams.
- Mkono-1, Dr Atish Shah from Tanzania – a locally 3D-printed prosthetic hand that provides an affordable solution for people living with upper limb amputations.
- Orbit Health, Pazion Cherinet from Ethiopia – a digital health platform that manages and stores patient data and dispenses medication, allowing for seamless continuity of care.
- Reeddi, Olugbenga Olufemi Olubanjo from Nigeria – an energy system used to provide clean, reliable and affordable electricity to households and businesses operating in energy-poor communities.
- RealDrip, Taofeek Olalekan from Nigeria – an intravenous therapy solution combining the internet of things and AI to monitor dosages, flow rates and intake time.
- ShiVent, Yusuf Bilesanmi from Nigeria – a low-cost, non-electric and non-invasive ventilator for patients with respiratory difficulties.
- SuaCode.ai, George Boateng from Ghana – a smartphone application that uses artificial intelligence to teach coding remotely.