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Uganda’s Natukunda to face off with professors in Shs700m innovation contest

Abraham Natukunda

A Ugandan technology entrepreneur called Abraham Natukunda has beaten thousands to emerge among the 10 nominees of the 2018 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) Awards. Natukunda’s innovation, eNose, a tool used in tea processing, saw him hit this milestone.

Natukunda and the other contenders who were picked from other nine African countries including Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzanians were announced on Thursday by the African Innovation Foundation (AIF).

Abraham Natukunda is the founder and managing director of the Rwandan based company Inter Connect Point Ltd. The judges, to come up with the 10 nominees, had to select from a pool of over 3,000 applicants.

The 9 other nominees come are Juslain Nomenjanahary Raharinaivo (Madagascar), Wassim Chahbani (Tunisia), Prof. Abdeladim Moumen and Dr. Hassan Ait Benhassou (Morocco).

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Others are Dr. Laud Anthony Basing (Ghana), Dr. Diana Yousef (Egypt), Henri Nyakarundi (Rwanda), Prof. Keolebogile Shirley Motaung (South Africa), Dr. Fohla Mouftaou (Benin) and Christian Mwijage (Tanzania).

This year’s innovations address critical challenges in ICT, agri-business, public health and the environment/energy sectors to improve the lives and economic prospects of Africans.

“African innovation: Investing in Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems” is the theme of the innovation competition.

The 3 IPA Awards winners will share a cash prize of USD$185,000 (about Shs700 million). The grand winner will receive USD$100,000, the 2nd prize winner and the Special Prize for Social Impact Innovation winner will both receive USD$25,000.

AIF Chairman Walter Fust says the theme prompts the need for increased collaboration between government, business, industry, innovation enablers, and the community to further realize African prosperity and economic freedom.

Natukunda uses eNose to supplement current tea processing procedures using low power sensor devices to determine optimum levels of tea fermentation. An analytics platform then receives and analyses the sensor data, providing real-time monitoring of key reactive elements and compounds during the tea-processing period, ensuring efficient traceability, prediction, and motion.

This innovation is expected to improve control results in better tea quality, boosting marketability and increased revenue for tea processors from each bushel of tea harvested.

To date, AIF has supported 55 IPA winners/nominees with over US$ 1 million plus and mobilized over 9,400 innovators from all 55 African countries.

AIF endorsement and exposure generated through IPA have seen past winners securing over US$135 million worth of investments to grow and scale their businesses. IPA past winners and nominee company valuations amount to over US$200 million.

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