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 United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
Director, ICT, Science and Technology Division (ISTD) at the ECA, Ms. Aida Opoku-Mensah, confirmed this to ITRealms, saying, “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 also said the prize is a global invitation to link arms and use potential, create efficiencies, and commercialize the very best ideas, which 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 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.
She further explained that the aims include 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.
According to her, in pursuing those aims, the IPA expects an 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.
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. Even as the registration deadline for the 2013 prize, has been set for 31 October 2012 with no possibility for extensions.
Ms. Opoku-Mensah recollected 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.
She pointed out that an Egyptian engineer, Mohammed Sanad, who has designed a base-station antenna that could facilitate upgrades to more advanced mobile networks in developing countries was 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.
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