africa prize Aevhas, Jacob Azundah

Royal Academy backs The Africa Prize for innovators

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The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2021 recognises ambitious African innovators developing scalable engineering solutions to local challenges, with this year’s shortlist representing 9 countries.

For the first time, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Ethiopia and the Gambia are among the finalists, with six of the 16-strong shortlist female innovators.

A low-cost water-powered ventilator, dissolvable bio plastic and 3D printed prosthetics are among the innovations chosen to receive crucial commercialisation support from the Royal Academy of Engineering, which launched the Africa Prize in 2014.

Africa Prize Make3D Medical, Juka Fatou Darboe
Shortlisted candidate, Make3D Medical, is headed by Juka Fatou Darboe from The Gambia, which produces 3D printed medical solutions

The 2021 shortlist includes innovations that provide solutions for pressing challenges in essential sectors addressing most of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

This year’s shortlist includes companies that are improving recruitment opportunities in the media and software development sectors through digital platforms, reducing agricultural waste by transforming it into products ranging from packaging to a plastic substitute, and using artificial intelligence to improve healthcare therapies.

The benefits of shortlist selection include 8 months of comprehensive and tailored business training, bespoke engineering mentoring, media and communications training, funding and access to the Academy’s network of high-profile, experienced engineers and business experts in the UK and across Africa.

2021 marks the first fully digital programme, providing intensive expert guidance and community support through a mixture of online group and one-on-one sessions.

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The Royal Academy has stepped-in to fund the award, having previously been awarded by The Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund from 2014 to 2020, with four finalists to be selected from the shortlist in June and invited to pitch their improved innovation and business plan to the judges and a live audience.

A winner will be selected in July to receive £25,000, and three runners up will receive £10,000 each.

With alumni of the Africa Prize having been projected to have impact on over three million lives in the next five years, winning innovations have already created over 1,500 jobs and raised more than $14 million in grants and equity.

Africa Prize KubeKo, Noël N'guessan
KubeKo, designed by Noël N’guessan from Côte d’Ivoire, is a low-cost biowaste processing machine designed for smallholder farmers to efficiently manage and monetise biowaste

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2021 Shortlist Includes:

Aevhas, Jacob Azundah, Nigeria (Main Image) – A high-efficiency machine used to process cassava roots into the West African diet staple, garri.

Biopackaging, Armelle Sidje, Cameroon – A sustainable manufacturing process which transforms banana and plantain stems to biodegradable paper packaging products.

Dissolv Bioplastic, Tshepo Mangoele, South Africa – A bioplastic made from plant waste material which is compostable and dissolves in water at pre-determined rates.

I3S, Marie Ndieguene, 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.

KubeKo, Noël N’guessan, Côte d’Ivoire – A low-cost biowaste processing machine designed for smallholder farmers to efficiently manage and monetise biowaste.

Make3D Medical, Juka Fatou Darboe, The Gambia – Cost-effective locally 3D-printed customised orthopaedic, medical and assistive equipment for patients and healthcare workers.

Mkono-1, Dr Atish Shah, Tanzania – A locally 3D-printed prosthetic hand which provides an affordable solution for people living with upper limb amputations

Reeddi, Olugbenga Olufemi Olubanjo, Nigeria – An energy system used to provide clean, reliable and affordable electricity to households and businesses operating in energy-poor communities.

RealDrip, Taofeek Olalekan, Nigeria – An intravenous therapy solution combining the Internet of Things and AI to monitor dosages, flow rates and intake time.


The 2020 winner was 26-year-old technology entrepreneur Charlette N’Guessan, who became the first woman to win the Africa Prize, and the first winner based in Ghana.

Charlette and her team developed BACE API, a software that uses facial recognition and artificial intelligence to verify identities remotely.

The software can be integrated into existing apps and systems and is aimed at financial institutions and other industries that rely on identity verification when providing services.