Ugandan engineer wins Africa’s largest engineering innovation award

Ugandan software engineer Anatoli Kirigwajjo has won the overall Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Kirigwajjo, developed Yunga, a local digital security network that connects neighbours to each other and to police within a 20km radius through a physical device, smartphone app or SMS service, providing security at low cost.

In cases of emergency, pressing a button sets off an alarm on all devices connected to the network, and sends a message with the victim’s details to other devices, prompting a community response.

The system includes motion sensors for when users leave their homes or businesses. YUNGA also operates in areas with no internet through a long-range wide area network. YUNGA reduces responses times from hours to the shortest time possible for members of the network to reach someone in danger.

“This recognition highlights our commitment to delivering exceptional technology tools for communities to thrive economically while staying safe,” the Ugandan engineer said.

“We extend our gratitude to the Royal Academy of Engineering for their recognition and tailored workshops and mentorship that have enhanced our operations, resulting in a 60% increase in sales and improved investment readiness. We also express our appreciation to our customers (1000+) across 34 communities in Uganda and promise to continue providing exceptional technology tools for their safety,” he said.

He said the prestigious continental award will facilitate his expansion and connection of an additional 3,000 households to the Yunga Network, with a focus on vulnerable women-led households.

“This expansion aims to create a safer environment, foster economic growth, and empower these communities. This recognition validates our efforts and motivates us to continue developing cutting-edge solutions for underserved communities,” Kirigwajjo said.

Kirigwajjo shared the award with South African biomedical engineer, Edmund Wessels for his FlexiGyn project, a handheld device from South Africa designed for diagnosing and treating uterine problems at a low cost.

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