Uganda’s Anatoli Kirigwajjo named finalist for Africa’s largest engineering innovation award

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Ugandan software engineer Anatoli Kirigwajjo has been named finalist for this year’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The Africa Prize, founded by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014, is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation.

Kirigwajjo will tussle it out alongside other three finalists from Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania for the £25,000 (Shs116 million) Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.

Innovations include electromobility motorbike conversion, a portable uterine inspection device, power packs made from recycled batteries, and a local digital security network for community safety.

The ninth winner will be announced in Accra, Ghana, on 6 July 2023, and will be awarded £25,000, with the other three finalists receiving £10,000 each.

Who is Anatoli Kirigwajjo?

Anatoli Kirigwajjo, a Ugandan software engineer, developed YUNGA, a local digital security network that connects neighbours to each other and police within a 20km radius via a physical device, smartphone app or SMS service, providing security at a low cost.

Communities are divided into networks of 10 to 30 households, each receiving a device connected to a local area network. In cases of emergency, pressing a button sets off a load alarm on all devices connected to the network, and sends a message with the victim’s details to other devices, prompting a community response.

The system includes motion sensors for when users leave their homes or businesses. YUNGA also operates in areas with no internet through a long range wide area network. YUNGA reduces responses times from hours to the shortest time possible for members of the network to reach someone in danger.

“I developed YUNGA after losing USD 1,300 worth of assets in a break-in, with little chance of the thieves being caught. We hope that with our household networks, communities will become harder targets for criminals. This will ensure safety, which in turn will create the space for economic activities to thrive.” Kirigwajjo says.

The finalists were chosen by the Royal Academy of Engineering after receiving support over eight months to help them accelerate their businesses.

This included comprehensive and tailored entrepreneurship training, sector specific engineering mentoring, communications support, pitching opportunities and access to the Academy’s network of high profile, experienced engineers and business experts in the UK and across Africa.

The 2023 finalists will pitch their innovations to a panel of five judges and a live and online audience in Accra on July 6, 2023.

Local supporters, industry peers, engineering and entrepreneurial enthusiasts, innovation hubs, investors, as well as media will have a chance to attend the Africa Prize final free of charge in person or online. An online exhibition showcasing the Africa Prize will be viewed via Royal Academy of Engineering’s website. The final will be hosted at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra.

To date, the Royal Academy of Engineering has supported more than 130 entrepreneurs across 20 African countries through the Africa Prize with a rigorous business training programme and lifelong support through the Africa Prize alumni network.

More than 70% of the alumni’s engineering and technology businesses now generate revenue. Between them the Africa Prize alumni have raised more than $14 million in grants and equity funding, and created more than 3,600 jobs, almost half of them for women.

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