‘If we don’t have electricity in Africa, there is no development,’ says Dr Aly El-Shafei. His patented innovation, SEMAJIB, a smart bearing which improves the performance of turbines generating electricity, has won the prestigious IPA award.

In the study he’s conducted at the University of Cairo, he’s managed to increase energy production by as much as 10 per cent by reducing vibrations, but this could be more in other African countries

‘It is important to know that one per cent in electricity consumption means a 0.8 per cent increase in GDP,’ the engineer told TRUE AFRICA after winning the US$100,000 prize.

Liberian scientist Dougbeh-Chris Nyan was awarded the Social Impact prize worth $25,000 for his rapid test which can diagnose seven diseases including Ebola, malaria and typhoid.

Philippa Ngaju Makobore, from Uganda, won the second prize, also worth $25,000, with her medical device designed to accurately administer intravenous fluids and drugs.

They were selected from the ten nominees for the prize. Other nominations include software solution which can understand and digitise spoken African languages; a mobile app which offers an alternative risk assessment solution for smallholder farmers; and software technology to manage unmanned drones surveying large tracts of land for illegal operations.

The Innovation Prize for Africa is now in its sixth year. It aims to catalyse the innovation spirit in Africa by promoting the growth of market-driven solutions to specific challenges on the continent.

One of the IPA judges, and editor-in-chief of TRUE Africa, Claude Grunitzky said about the eventual winner: ‘He’s spent his entire career studying vibrations and this felt like the fruit of his life’s work. It’s the kind of African innovation that can be exported to the rest of the world.’

The next steps for Aly El-Shafei after winning the Innovation Prize for Africa are to build an industrial prototype in Egypt. Companies like the German conglomerate Siemens have expressed interest in funding it.

Find out more about the Innovation Prize for Africa.