My belief that Africa’s future lies in its ability to innovate according to its socio-economic needs led to the founding of the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) back in 2009. Our aim is to unleash Africa’s dormant potential and support sustainable projects that improve the lives and the future of people in Africa.
In 2011, we took the AIF to the next level by launching the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), together with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Later, we launched the African Law Library and Social Impact Program. All AIF programs focus on innovative solutions that unlock African potential.
Innovation Prize for Africa
The Innovation Prize for Africa was founded on the understanding that the best solutions to the daily challenges Africans face can and will come from Africans themselves. I truly believe that African entrepreneurs have tremendous innovation acumen and entrepreneurship ideas but they are often let down by the lack of an innovation ecosystem to support their ideas.
Through the IPA, we aim to fill this gap to an extent by identifying and rewarding innovative business ideas that have lasting economic and social impact. Year after year, the innovations that are presented for the IPA comprise of high-value African solutions with positive socio-economic impact.
This year’s sixth edition of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) highlighted outstanding innovations from across Africa as the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) awarded three African innovators for their incredible innovations. Out of the total of over 2,500 applications, 10 nominees were selected, and from these Aly El-Shafei of Egypt emerged as the Grand Prize winner, with Philippa Ngaju Makobore of Uganda landing the Second Prize, and Dougbeh-Chris Nyan of Liberia winning the Special Prize for Social Impact. Each one of the seven remaining nominees also went home with $5,000 voucher to be used to further develop their innovations. Moreover, all nominees and winners will benefit from IPA post prize activities aiming at moving their innovations to the next level.
The IPA focuses specifically on technological breakthroughs in the manufacturing and service industries, healthcare, agriculture and agribusiness, environment, energy and water and ICTs.
The grand prize IPA winner, Prof. Aly El-Shafei, developed a smart electro-mechanical bearing which versatility allows it to change its characteristics as it operates. It produces a significant improvement in turbine performance which can be used to support energy generating turbines and improve efficiency resulting in reduced costs of generating energy in Africa. Here, he speaks about the importance of his innovation in Africa and throughout the world.
IPA 2017 Second place & Social Impact winners
African Law Library
The African Law Library (ALL), which launched in 2012 to help Africans access legal data freely and to understand their rights, has an interesting story behind it. I founded the ALL as a direct result of a personal experience I encountered when I bought some land in Africa. An old soba from Cabinda was quick to point out that the land still would not belong to me as long as I had not performed the traditional rites to assign ownership...even though I had followed all the necessary administrative and legal procedures.
We eventually went to the village to offer food and wine to the ancestors. With the mediation of an elderly local wise man, I performed the necessary traditional rites and was only then allowed to own the land.
“These innovations have incredible commercial potential for developing solutions that can truly add value to the lives of Africans and will succeed in attracting the right investments to go to the next stage.”
The ALL was created as an online portal that would bring these parallel legal realities under one hub, which Africans could easily access. Today the ALL contains thousands of legal documents ranging from legislations, acts, court rulings, and customary laws in various languages from many African nations, as well as a host of secondary sources including legal commentaries, journals, dissertations, books and articles.