South African innovator Neo Hutiri wins engineering award for smart locker that cuts HIV treatment queues by hours

by MMC
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Last night, the Royal Academy of Engineering celebrated the 10th anniversary of the prestigious African Engineering Innovation Prize by awarding a special medal to the creator of Pelebox, a smart locker delivery system that empowers people living with illnesses, such as HIV or AIDS, to collect their repeated chronic treatment in less than 30 minutes instead of waiting hours in queues at health facilities. Pelebox smart lockers are now operational in 123 communities across 3 countries, already impacting the lives of 32,000 patients per month having treated over 1 million chronic scripts to date.

South African innovator Neo Hutiri, the creator of Pelebox, received a birthday medal and £50,000 investment to help accelerate its innovation, after presenting its project to a panel of six judges at a ceremony in central London. “I am honored to have been recognized by the Royal Academy of Engineering and to have been selected alongside such an accomplished group of innovators. The award has been instrumental in accelerating the deployment of Technovera-Pelebox smart lockers over the past five years. It has provided a community that has, in the past and continues, supported and inspired us as we move forward. Through this award, we aim to scale up the work we have been doing to reach more communities,” he said. The medal is one of 35 anniversary grants, prizes and accelerator programs, worth a total of over £1 million, invested in African innovators to solve the continent’s key development challenges through THE Royal Academy of Engineering. The program is Africa’s largest award dedicated to engineering innovation and supporting entrepreneurs to maximize their impact and marks its 10th birthday this year.

The two finalists were Aisha Raheem, of Farmz2u of Nigeria and Kenya, a company that increases the efficiency of food system market participants through transparent operational systems, and Samuel Njiguna of Chura Limited of Kenya, with a multi-grid system based on the Web. which allows users to move airtime between their different SIM cards regardless of operator, purchase airtime from service providers that can be used on any network, send airtime to family members or employees, or to exchange airtime for money. The two finalists received £15,000 to further develop their innovations. The remaining 10th Anniversary funding will be provided in the form of grants and activities aimed at driving the growth and sustainability of businesses founded in Africa. These initiatives include legal support, digital skills enhancement and global networking opportunities.

In its first decade, the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation has supported more than 140 entrepreneurs in 23 African countries with a rigorous business training program, lifelong support through its dynamic alumni network students as well as engineering mentorship, communications support and pitching opportunities. Alumni are working to address many of Africa’s most pressing development challenges, including access to electricity, food and water security, adaptation to climate change, and improving public infrastructure . Since 2014, alumni have collectively raised more than US$39 million, created more than 28,000 jobs, and introduced more than 470 products and services to market in more than 40 countries on five continents. More than 10 million people have benefited from the technical innovations and employment opportunities created by Africa Prize alumni.

According to Rebecca Enonchong FREng, Africa Prize judge, “The impressive African Technical Innovation Entrepreneurs Prize has created solutions that are actively shaping a sustainable and inclusive future for more than 10 million people on the continent. The Africa Prize was launched ten years ago to actively build engineering capacity in Africa. During this time, the continent’s engineering ecosystem has continued to grow and thrive and we are proud to have supported its dynamic landscape of innovation and collaboration. Applications for the next cohort of the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation will open in spring 2024.

Shortlisted innovators included:

  • Farmz2u, Aisha Raheem, Nigeria and Kenya – Farmz2U is a dynamic supply chain technology company aimed at increasing the efficiency of food system market participants through transparent operational systems.
  • Kitovu Technology Company, Nwachinemere Emeka, Nigeria – an online platform that helps rural and remote smallholder farmers make data-driven decisions to reduce costs, increase yields and maximize sales.
  • Vertical gardening and micro-VMG, Paul Matovu, Uganda – VMG’s vertical farms use space to grow a variety of plants and compost biodegradable household waste, making sustainable agriculture accessible in urban settings and contributing to food security and community empowerment.
  • Majik Water Technologies LTD, Beth Wanjiku Koigi, Kenya – Majik Water uses solar energy to harvest moisture from the air and transform it into clean, affordable drinking water for off-grid communities.
  • Silmak-Genesis Care, Catherine Wanjoya, Kenya – Genesis Care is an Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled system to distribute and then dispose of feminine hygiene products, providing women and girls with greater access to affordable menstrual products.
  • Technovera-Pelebox smart lockers, Neo Hutiri, South Africa – Technovera is a social enterprise focused on inclusive technology with the aim of improving access to medicines for chronic diseases in Africa.
  • Kamata Online Protection Services Ltd (KOPS Ltd), Edmand Aijuka, Uganda – Kamata, meaning “seize,” is a prevention system that alerts regional utility centers when electricity is tampered with or tampered with.
  • Tuteria Education, Godwin Benson, Nigeria – Tuteria provides access to personalized and affordable tutoring, especially for students with academic difficulties or special learning needs.
  • Scientific Ensemble, Ofori Charles Antipem, Ghana – The Science Set is a highly customizable portable toolbox that contains the materials needed for every basic science experiment in different science programs in Africa.
  • BleagLee, Juveline Ngum Ngwa, Cameroon – BleagLee uses an AI-powered platform to quickly identify open waste incineration, then works with local waste collectors to collect the waste to turn it into biofuels, creating sustainable jobs for women, men and young people.
  • Auto-Truck EA Limited, Kenneth Guantai, Kenya – Auto-truck is an e-mobility company specializing in the local manufacturing, refurbishment and assembly of two and three wheeler electric vehicles commonly used in Kenya for last mile connectivity.
  • Chura Limited, Samuel Njuguna, Kenya – Chura is a web-based multi-network system that allows users to move airtime between their different SIM cards, regardless of operator, purchase airtime from service providers that can be used on any network, send airtime to family members or employees, or exchange airtime for money. .

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