Ugandan software engineer in line to win £25,000 in Africa’s largest engineering innovation awards

Ugandan software engineer, Anatoli Kirigwajjo is in line to win £25,000 (Shs 120 million) after being named among finalists in this year’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The Africa Prize, founded by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014, is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation.

Kirgwajjo’s innovation, YUNGA, is a local digital security network that connects neighbours to each other and police within a 20km radius via a physical device, smartphone app or SMS service, providing security at a low cost.

In cases of emergency, pressing a button sets off a load 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.

The youthful Ugandan innovator will battle with others including Chukwuemeka Eze, a Nigerian electrical engineer who developed the Revive Kit, a modular e-mobility service used to convert gas-powered three-wheeled motorbikes to run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

Others in the race are Edmund Wessels a South African biomedical engineer who developed FlexiGyn, a battery-powered portable handheld device enabling gynaecologists to diagnose and treat a woman’s uterus without anaesthetic or expensive equipment, increasing women’s access to reproductive healthcare, particularly in remote areas.

Then there is Gibson Kawago, a Tanzanian electrical engineer who  developed the WAGA PAWA Pack, a rechargeable power source created from recycled laptop lithium-ion batteries, providing a reliable and affordable electricity source.

The process

The finalists were chosen by the Royal Academy of Engineering after receiving support over eight months to help them accelerate their businesses. This included comprehensive and tailored entrepreneurship training, sector specific engineering mentoring, communications support, pitching opportunities and access to the academy’s network of high profile, experienced engineers and business experts in the UK and across Africa.

The 2023 finalists will pitch their innovations to a panel of five judges and a live and online audience in Accra, Ghana on 6 July.

The winner will be announced in Accra, on 6 July 2023, and will be awarded £25,000, with the other three finalists receiving £10,000 each.

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