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Two win African innovation prize

By James Wanzala | May 16th 2019

Left: Dr. Kamau Gachigi (Gearbox), Percy Lemtukei and Emmastella Gakuo (Savanna Circuit Tech) and James Creel (ASME ISHOW) during the award ceremony at Nairobi on May 9. [James Wanzala, Standard]


Kenyan agricultural innovators are among the three African winners of the prestigious 2019 ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) that was held on May 9 in Nairobi.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has named three socially minded hardware inventors from Africa as regional grand prizewinners.

Percy Lemtukei and Emmastella Gakuo are the brains behind The Savanna Circuit Tech ‘MaziwaPlus Pre-Chiller’ from Kapenguria, West Pokot County.

They will share the Sh3 million prize money with Ghanaians Theodore Ohene Botchway and Jeffrey Appiagyei Boakye of SAYeTECH Company, who presented their Multi-crop Thresher innovation.

Peter O’Hara Adu and Isaac Senu Sesi from Sesi Technologies presented the GrainMate Grain Moisture Meter.

Lemtukei, an informatics graduate from Rongo University together with Ms Gakuo, a communication and media studies graduate from Moi University developed a cooler aimed at cutting milk losses.

The MaziwaPlus Pre-Chiller is a mobile solar-powered system that can be mounted on motorbikes, offering quality control, traceability and maximised profits for dairy producers and cooperatives.

It was developed in response to milk post-harvest losses due to transportation over long distances in rural Kenya.

Solar Freeze from Machakos County also received special recognition and an in-kind prize of 20 hours of design support courtesy of Catapult Design.

This was for its portable solar-powered cold storage innovation, which strives to address the challenge of post-harvest loss for farmers.

The three social entrepreneurs were selected from among eight finalists from across Africa who vied for a share of Sh3 million in seed grants and technical support to help bring their design innovations to the market.

Each winner will also receive a ticket to the ISHOW Boot camp in New York in October this year, where they’ll meet six other regional winners of competitions held in Bengaluru, India (April) and Washington, DC (June).

This year, ASME received 160 applications. The finalists presented the engineering design attributes of their prototypes and outlined their plans for manufacturing, marketing, and financing.

The 2019 grand prize-winning designs all tackled the challenge of sustainable food supply.

“We are proud to offer a forum for engineering problem-solving that truly improves lives. We are continually impressed by the creative talent of ASME ISHOW participants and their passion for helping underserved communities around the world,” said ASME Executive Director Tom Costabile.

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