Two Ugandans Shortlisted for The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation

By Mark Kawalya

Ugandans Phillip Kyeswa and Dr. Julius Mubiru have been shortlisted for the 2022 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, alongside sixteen other innovative minds from across the continent. 

The group of innovators will pitch their ideas in a competition that will see the winner walk away with the grand prize of £25,000 (approx. UGX122 million).

The Countries Represented

Contenders that have been selected for the 2022 African Prize for Engineering Innovation hail from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Togo, South Africa, The Republic of Congo and Uganda.

The contenders will receive tailored training along with mentorship, but the prize money will be awarded to the last innovator standing. The most successful African innovators are normally those who tackle indigenous challenges using scalable engineering solutions. 

For the first time in the awards’ history, half of the 16-strong contestants are women, with Ethiopia’s fronting its first-ever woman to be shortlisted for the top prize. 

A-Lite Vein Locator

Uganda’s Dr. Mubiru invented the A-Lite Vein Locator, a device that maps a patient’s veins as easy-to-see shadows on their skin, enabling medical personnel to more easily insert drips or draw blood. 

This revolutionary device addresses the difficulty medical workers face when inserting cannulas into patients, especially those with dark skin. 

“No one likes the needles. Vein visibility is not just an issue of comfort. We would like to see far more of what is called “first-needle successes,” where the vein is found on the first try, saving medical staff time, sparing children unnecessary trauma, and getting medicine to those who need it as quickly as possible,”explained Dr. Mubiru.

The next step for the A-Lite Vein Locator is to undergo rigorous clinical trials to determine its efficiency and safety, as well as to measure its impact in a medical setting. 

 The Remote Solar Monitoring System

The other Ugandan contender, Kyeswa, developed the Peec REM, a remote device for metering off-grid solar installations, and reporting blackouts or tampering. The invention can be deployed by utility companies like Umeme to quickly respond to power outages or vandalism. After the meters have been bought by mini-grid developers who sell electricity to households, Peec REM is maintained by Kyeswa and his team. They earn revenue on a monthly subscription basis for the service they offer. 23 mini-grid operators in Uganda have tested the system, and plans are underway to scale up the firm’s footprint in the market. 

Kyeswa said, “We have the potential to impact millions of people living in off-grid areas by making mini-grid installations more practical and locally appropriate. There is so much room for growth and local adaptations in East Africa to make the most of new technologies and bring power to more households. “

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