Brian Gitta, a 24-year-old Ugandan software engineer has won £25,000 (124 million Ugandan shillings) in the fourth Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
Gitta is the first Ugandan to win the prestigious Africa Prize and the youngest winner to date. Gitta and his team developed Matibabu, a device which tests for malaria without drawing blood.
Matibabu, which means ‘medical centre’ in Swahili, is a low-cost, reusable device that clips onto a patient’s finger, requiring no specialist expertise to operate. The results are available within one minute on a mobile phone that is linked to the device.
At an awards ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, last week, four finalists from across sub-Saharan Africa delivered presentations, before Africa Prize judges and a live audience voted for the most promising engineering innovation.
Rebecca Enonchong, Africa Prize judge, said; “We are very proud of this year’s winner. It’s a perfect example of how engineering can unlock development – in this case by improving healthcare.”
Apart from Gitta, the three runners-up selected winning £10,000 each were Ifediora Ugochukwu from Nigeria for iMeter, an intelligent metering system that gives Nigerian users transparency and control over their electricity supply. Collins Saguru, a Zimbabwean working in South Africa, for AltMet, a low-cost, environmentally friendly method for recovering precious metals from car parts and Michael Asante-Afrifa, from Ghana for Science Set, a mini science lab that contains specially developed materials for experiments.
Gitta commented: “We are incredibly honoured to win the Africa Prize – it’s such a big achievement for us because it means that we can better manage production in order to scale clinical trials and prove ourselves to regulators. The recognition will help us open up partnership opportunities – which is what we need most at the moment.”
In 2017, 27-year-old Nigerian systems engineer, Godwin Benson, who designed Tuteria, an online platform that links students to qualified tutors in their area and within their budget, won the third edition of the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK, is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation. It encourages talented sub-Saharan African engineers, from all disciplines, to develop innovations that address crucial problems in their communities in a new, appropriate way.