SABC News - Tanzanian innovation takes top engineering award:Tuesday 2 June 2015

Tanzanian innovation takes top engineering award

Tuesday 2 June 2015 07:35

Thandiswa Mawu

Tanzanian academic, and chemical engineer, Askwar Hilonga has taken the award for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovations during a ceremony held in Cape Town on Monday night.

Hilonga' s design of water filters using cutting edge  technology is aimed at giving the people water that he says are currently unavailable because of contamination.

The Africa Prize is organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK with the aim to encourage innovative and entrepreneurship in engineering.

Four finalists from South Africa, Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania applied their skills to find solutions to local challenges while highlighting engineering entrepreneurship.

They were selected from 55 original applicants from 15 countries.

Engineers are incredibly important for the development in Africa.

Chairperson of the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize, Malcolm Brinded says world statistics show that half-a-million people in the world move into urban areas every nine days, saying there's a need for engineering technology innovations.

“We think engineers are incredibly important for the development in Africa, we think that engineers who want to form businesses and build on their innovations and inventions are also very important to take the economy forward and drive development of the people and the key prize is that all the semi-finalists receive 6 months of business training and mentoring to help them have a better chance of forming successful businesses.”

The overall winner Doctor Askwar Hilonga says 88% of all child deaths in Tanzania are as a result of drinking contaminated water.

He says his innovation, sold at 130 US dollars per unit will assist those who are at the bottom of the pyramid in terms of their living standards.

This lecturer at the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology in Tanzania says his prize money will assist him to grow the business, maybe cut down on the price of the machine.

“This is a solution, now my community and the whole Africa have the possibility to stop typhoid, to stop cholera, and stop water bourne diseases by using low cost nano filter.”

Runners up each received about R200 000, while the overall winner walked away with R450 000.

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