Meet The Local Innovations Battling For The Royal Academy Of Engineering 2021 Prize

Royal Academy of Engineering 2021 Innovators


Africans are ingenious, resourceful, and possess expert craftsmanship. This skill set has led to the development of many impeccable inventions. A lot of these innovations, however, do not get to the limelight. Local innovators often lack a platform to showcase their works. Nothing gives us a sense of purpose like spotlighting positive African news.

According to the Global Innovation Index 2021 report, Rwanda is the new innovation leader among low-income countries in Africa. The report also mentioned that Mauritius, South Africa, and Kenya are the top three innovators in Sub-Saharan Africa. This innovation and platform imbalance is the reason behind the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize.

Royal Academy of Engineering 2021 Innovators and their Ideasย 

In 2021, the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation featured everything from digital platforms to 3D printed orthopedic equipment and a piece of biowaste equipment that supports income generation. The 2022 edition reveals innovators like Virtue Oboro, Divin Kouebatouka, and Norah Mageroย who are showcasing extraordinary innovative talents.

#1. Virtue Oboro

One of the applicants for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation designs a jaundice treatment machine.
Virtue Oboro, the Nigerian innovator who designed the Crib Aโ€™Glow for jaundice treatment (Photo credit: BellaNaija)

Oboro is a Nigerian innovator. Her product, Crib Aโ€™Glow, is designed to provide treatment for infants suffering from jaundice. It was developed by Tiny Hearts Technology, a company that Oboro started with her husband. It features a small-sized phototherapy crib powered by solar panels.



Jaundice affects about 60% of newborns worldwide. The disease also accounts for over 100,000 deaths annually. Oboroโ€™s innovation seeks to counter this by utilizing light rays produced from led bulbs. This special light is better absorbed by a babyโ€™s body. The design also functions for extended periods, thanks to its unorthodox power supply.

Africa Prize for Engineering innovator displays her innovation while it is being used
Oboro explains how her innovation work (Photo credit: The Guardian)

The Crib Aโ€™Glow enables faster jaundice treatments. Therefore, it ensures the faster discharge of patients. This frees up space for more admissions at local health centers. The design is relevant in communities with an erratic power supply because it has its own power source.

#2. Divin Kouebatouka

Africa Prize for Engineering and Innovation 2021 nominee Divin Kouebatouka
Africa Prize for Engineering and Innovation 2021 nominee Divin Kouebatouka (Photo credit: BellaNaija)

Kouebatouka is an innovator from the Republic of the Congo. The basis of his design is the hyacinth plant. According to him, the plant, sometimes called โ€œthe curseโ€, is fast-spreading in Congo and many waterways in Africa.

Therefore, he and his team at Green Tech Africa decided to research how to turn the hyacinth stem into a useful fiber. They found out that the hyacinth stem possesses nitrate, protein, and a high absorbency quality. After processing, it becomes useful for sucking up spilled oil from the ground or water sources. Their finished product is already on demand by more than ten companies looking to resolve oil leaks and spillage.



Divin Kouebatouka packages his hyacinth fiber innovation
Divin Kouebatouka (left) packaging the hyacinth fiber (Photo credit: The Guardian)

#3. Norah Magero

Norah Magero, a nominee for the Africa Prize for Engineering invents the Vaccibox
Africa Prize for Engineering and Innovation 2021 nominee Norah Magero (Photo credit: BellaNaija)

Magero, an engineer from Kenya, is another top innovator at the Africa Prize for Engineering and Innovation 2021. Her innovation brings together engineering and energy management through the development of efficient vaccine storage.

The storage innovation comes in form of a fridge. It has a pull-up handle, four tiny rollers, and a solar-fitted lid. The innovation was developed by Drop Access which Magero also started. VacciBox works by storing vaccines safely and in precisely required temperatures using accurate data monitoring sensors. A backup battery system also functions with the setup to store solar energy, helping the fridge function for longer hours.

A nominee of the Africa Prize for Engineering with a storage innovation
Norah Magero holding a Vaccibox (Photo credit: The Guardian)

Mageroโ€™s VacciBox costs approximately ยฃ680. It was first launched in Merrueshi village health center which caters to over 40,000 indigenes. The Usungu dispensary in Makueni county was also selected to test the product. The result from both tests shows that the VacciBox helped increase the vaccination rate by about 150%.

About the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation

The Royal Academy of Engineering is the sponsor of the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. Now in its eighth year, the prize promotes publicity and support for local innovations that solve important challenges in a given community in Africa. Specifically, the innovation prize targets engineering projects. This is because the organizers believe that it is the key to building a better world.


The prize event usually starts with an online application portal open to the public and continues with sixteen applicants selected for their outstanding design ideas. These applicants enjoy the perks of the program including access to mentoring, seven-month training, and the Academyโ€™s network of high-profile business experts and engineers. The Royal Academy of Engineers then organizes a showcase event where the finalists present their ideas to a panel of judges. The most outstanding innovator wins prize money to the tone of ยฃ25,000.


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