By Mark Kawalya
Ugandan software engineer Anatoli Kirigwajjo has been awarded the 2023 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation by the Royal Academy of Engineering. The Africa Prize was established by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014 and is the largest engineering innovation award in Africa. The winner receives a cash prize of £25,000 (about Shs116 million).
Kirigwajjo is the brainchild behind Yunga, a digital security network that connects neighbors and the police within a 20-kilometer radius. The service can be accessed using a physical device installed in the home, a smartphone app, or an SMS service, providing security at a low cost.
At an award ceremony in Accra, Ghana, Kirigwajjo was selected as the winner among three other finalists. These finalists were chosen from a shortlist of 15 African innovators based on their ability to address common problems faced by Africans through engineering solutions. While speaking about winning the award, Kirigwajjo expressed excitement and said that the recognition would further motivate his efforts in innovation.
“We extend our gratitude to the Royal Academy of Engineering for their recognition and tailored workshops and mentorship that have enhanced our operations, resulting in a 60% increase in sales and improved investment readiness. We also express our appreciation to our customers across 34 communities in Uganda and promise to continue providing exceptional technology tools for their safety.”
His plans for the future include expanding the Yunga Network to connect an additional 3,000 households, with a specific focus on vulnerable women-led households. The aim of this expansion is to create a safer environment, foster economic growth, and empower underserved communities.
Edmund Wessels, a South African biomedical engineer, was also recognized for his innovation called FlexiGyn. The handheld device is designed to diagnose and treat uterine problems at a low cost. Both Kirigwajjo’s and Wessels’ innovations showcase the potential of engineering to address important challenges in Africa.