Investing in African Ingenuity

By Pauline Mujawamariya, Program Director, Innovation Prize for Africa

Investing in African Ingenuity

The best way to build Africa’s capacity is to invest in local innovation and entrepreneurship. Africa is at a developmental turning point and Africans have stepped forward to be the leaders of the continent’s development in all facets of the economy. African innovators and entrepreneurs are creating solutions to our continent’s everyday challenges. By providing USD 150,000 to winners who deliver market-oriented solutions for African-led development, the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), an initiative of the African Innovation Foundation (AIF), acknowledges and encourages the endeavour of innovators and entrepreneurs and works to raise their profiles on the development agenda. Through this endeavour, the IPA not only aims to celebrate African innovators and entrepreneurs but also to encourage a healthy competitive environment in which they strive to take the continent forward.

Africa has no shortage of good ideas to develop the continent, just a lack of resources to fund them. The important thing about innovation is that, if funded and supported by the correct public- and private sector channels, it has the potential to draw Africa out of the cycle of poverty, dependency and unemployment and push the continent towards economic growth and prosperity. We believe that a prosperous continent will see less unrest as people find positive and constructive ways to contribute to their communities. Innovation creates more jobs and provides more opportunities to move the continent forward.

We believe that the best solutions to the challenges that Africans face on a daily basis can and will come from Africans themselves. For example, the team from Saphon Energy (Tunisia) won the 2013 Prize in the business potential category for developing a new bladeless wind turbine. As leaders continue to look for new affordable sources of energy, this sailboat-inspired solution has immediate global potential.

The IPA’s mission is:

  • To mobilize leaders from all sectors to fuel African innovation
  • To promote innovation across Africa in key sectors through the competition
  • To promote science, technology and engineering as a rewarding career path among African youth.
  • To encourage entrepreneurs, innovators, funding bodies and business development service providers to exchange ideas and explore innovative business opportunities.

The IPA invests in game-changing ideas, inventions and business models across sectors that improve the lives of Africans – the Prize focuses on high tech services, manufacturing, food processing, energy production and other value added areas. In addition, the IPA recognizes innovations with practical market potential, which are effective and efficient in the long run. The AgriProtein team won the overall 2013 Prize for its innovative approach to nutrient recycling – a method that uses waste and fly larvae to produce natural animal feed. The AgriProtein solution collects waste, feeds it to flies that produce larvae that are then ground into protein to provide a more ecologically friendly, naturally occurring animal feed. This approach improves the nutritional value of meat and lowers the cost of animal feed for African farmers. This type of innovation not only improves the quality of life of Africans, but also has the potential to solve larger, global ecological issues. This is why we believe Africans can solve their own everyday challenges while at the same time contributing to the global socio-economic ecosystem.

Innovation is a concrete path to getting Africa out of the cycle of dependency. We have the capability to literally create our own future and the AIF is deeply involved in encouraging this mentality through the IPA. The more Africans create and innovate solutions to the continent’s every day challenges, the less the continent will have to rely on external support to fund its economic growth.

To find out more about the Prize, visit and APPLY TODAY to compete for a share of USD 150’000. Deadline is November 30th 2013

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