Think big – Akufo-Addo tells African innovators

General News of Thursday, 20 July 2017



Akufo Addo SaveluguPresident Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has asked African innovators and researchers to think big and come up with inventions that will address the development challenges confronting the continent.

He stressed the need for researchers to focus their attention on developing technologies that would help grow African businesses and also help them attain the height at which they could compete with those from the developed world.

Speaking at the 2017 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) Awards held in Accra last Tuesday, President Akufo-Addo said the future of Africa looked brighter if researchers would step up their game and invent technologies that would benefit businesses and improve lives.

“You must have the ability to embrace a new idea and think of a way to transform that idea into solving problems and improving lives,” he said.

AIF awards

The Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) competition Awards is held annually to honour Africans who, through their various innovations, have helped to solve a development challenge in their countries.

It is organised by the African Innovation Foundation (AIF).

This year’s event, which is the sixth, received more than 2,500 entries from 48 African countries.

After a rigorous process, 10 finalists from eight countries were shortlisted to contest for the $100,000 ultimate prize.

The finalists were from Nigeria, Liberia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Morocco.

After the contest, a 58-year-old Egyptian innovator, Mr Aly El-Shafei, emerged the overall winner.

His innovation: Smart Electro-Mechanical Actuator Journal Integrated Bearing (SEMAJIB), was adjudged the best technology for this year.

Mr El-Shafei’s device is designed to be used to support energy and generating turbines and could also be used to improve efficiency and reduce cost of generating energy.

The second and third prizes went to Ms Philippa Ngaju from Uganda and Mr Dougbeh-Chris Nyan from Liberia, respectively.

Each received $25,000 to support them to expand their technologies.

This year’s event, which was on the theme: “African innovation: Investing in prosperity”, was held in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and the [email protected] Secretariat.

Ghana’s focus

President Akufo-Addo reiterated his commitment to invest in science, technology and innovation (STI) to drive home his agenda of transforming the country’s economy.

“My government will invest one per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in science, technology and innovation,” he said.

The President said his government was scaling up efforts to invest in science and technology infrastructure to enable Ghanaian innovators to achieve the skills they so much cherished.

He said he was not only determined but also committed to investing in STI to empower researchers to come up with the right innovations that would transform the country.

Under his agenda for STI, President Akufo-Addo said he would establish a Presidential Advisory Council on STI, adding that an STI Fund would be set up to support research and development.

“We intend to put in place a number of programmes that will enable the country to develop a strong innovation sector. MESTI will lead that agenda,” he added.

AIF agenda

The Chairman of the Board of the AIF, Mr Walter Fust, said over the past five years, the institution had been playing an active role in supporting the development of African innovation ecosystems through ongoing collaborative programmes and strategic partnerships with governments and innovation influencers across the continent.

Concerning this year’s event, he said entries were opened to some other countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe.

“Moreover, with African women increasingly dotting the continent’s innovation landscape, we were thrilled to note an increased number of entries from women innovators,” Mr Fust said.

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