AFRICANGLOBE – Transitioning from being an successful engineer to a successful entrepreneur takes some doing.
In an attempt to recognise and promote both innovation and business leadership in Africa, the Royal Academy of Engineering has awarded Tanzanian Askwar Hilonga for his innovative, low-cost sustainable water filter system.
The nano-filters aim to help community centres become water hubs by filtering and selling water that is accessible to some of the most isolated and under-serviced communities in the region.
“This is a solution, now my community and the whole Africa have the possibility to stop typhoid, to stop cholera, and stop water bourne diseases by using low cost nano filter,” Hilonga told the SABC.
Hilonga’s project was chosen out of 12 African entrepreneurs who were all given a package of six months of business training and mentoring from the the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering.
Speaking about the significance of the programme earlier this year, Hilonga noted that it completely changed his business plan. “I’ve found new sources of interest-free loans and seed capital, changed the way I see my customers and learnt to communicate with them better. The impact is much greater than I imagined.”
Other finalists hail from South Africa, Kenya and Zambia, and introduced things like a fence-mounted warning system, a precision fertiliser applicator to help Zambian farmers and a mobile system that helps people swap airtime online.
“The finalists are an exemplar of African engineering innovation with remarkable potential,” said Bola Olabisi, Africa Prize judge and CEO of the Global Women Inventors Innovators Network. “Their revolutionary ideas will help boost the standard of living for many sub-Saharan Africans. I commend all entrants and finalists for their determination and tenacity.”
The 11 runners-up reportedly received about R200 000 each, while the overall winner walked away with R450 000.