Jurors Shed Light: How did you assess the winners of the Innovation Prize?

Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is currently the Managing Director of the Centre for Phytotherapy Research (CEPHYR) and Professor of Organic Chemistry with an endowed chair at the University of Mauritius. She currently holds the position of Chairperson of the International Council for Scientific Union – Regional Office for Africa. Ms Gurib-Fakim has authored and/or co-edited 26 books and several book chapters within the field of biodiversity, conservation and sustainable development as well as numerous scientific articles. Ms Gurib-Fakim has received several prestigious awards including the l’Oreal-UNESCO Prize for Women in Science and the African Union Commission Award for Women in Science.


Dr Benjamin Aggrey Ntim

Dr. Benjamin Aggrey Ntim is an engineer by profession and a member of the Ghana Institution of Engineers. He received his BSc. in Engineering with 1st class honours and a further PhD in Aeronautical engineering from London University. He was a lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology for 9 years before joining UNESCO in Paris as a Programme Specialist in Engineering. Dr. Ntim held the position of the Ghanaian Minister of Communications for several years and was largely responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects for the development of the Ghanaian IT Industry.


Pauline Mujawamariya

Pauline Mujawamariya is the IPA Program Director, and she is also in charge of the innovation and technology program. She focuses on cultivating market-orientated solutions for African-led development and works across the continent to build an innovation ecosystem that will fuel African economic growth. Pauline has more than a decade of international development experience with international organizations including UNICEF and GTZ in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ENDA Tiers Monde in Senegal, Jewish Family and Children’s Service and TANGO International in the U.S.

Prior to joining the African Innovation Foundation, she worked for the World Health Organization and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement Foundation. Pauline currently serves as a board member of the Flame Tree Initiative, a US-based NGO that focuses on using ICTs to address the digital divide by collaborating with African universities.

Pauline received a bachelor’s of arts honours degree in international studies, with a focus on Sub-Saharan African development. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the Institute for Development Studies, Sussex University, United Kingdom, where she earned a Master’s degree in Poverty and Development. She also served as a Fulbright Fellow at UNESCO in Paris working on issues related to freedom of expression, democracy and peace. Pauline has dedicated her life to ensuring economic and social empowerment for African people.

(1) How do you assess the winners of these prizes?

”The IPA is looking for innovators who have unique and sustainable solutions to Africa’s everyday challenges. In general we are looking for downstream innovations that demonstrate the following important factors:

· Marketability: Potential for commercialization and bankability

· Originality: Innovativeness, demonstrated creativity and originality of idea

· Scalability: Scale and scope and whether a reasonable strategy for moving ahead has been developed

· Social impact: The socio-economic impacts of the proposed innovation, and how it addresses existing development challenges faced by a community/country or the continent as whole

· Utility/technical aspects: The technological or scientific significance of the innovation in the particular field and beyond”

IPA Juror Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Managing Director of the Centre for Phytotherapy Research (CEPHYR) and Professor of Organic Chemistry.


(2) After the verdict was out, did you feel like all of you deserve to win, even though that is not possible?

”For the IPA 2013, 10 African innovators developed practical solutions to some of the continent’s most intractable problems. Chosen from more than 900 applications from 45 countries, the finalists for the IPA 2013 provide practical examples of Africa’s investment potential. Although we could only choose three winners in total, we saw a strong trend emerging of innovations that have significant social and economic impact for Africa and we hope to see this trend continue with the call for applications for the IPA 2014.”

IPA Juror Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Managing Director of the Centre for Phytotherapy Research (CEPHYR) and Professor of Organic Chemistry.


(3) Given the nature of how development moves in a snail pace in Africa, do you think this program would help create a competitive environment for researchers and inventors? If yes, how?

“Africa is at a developmental turning point and Africans have stepped forward to be the leaders of the continent’s development in all facets of the economy. African innovators and entrepreneurs are creating solutions to our continent’s everyday challenges. By providing USD 150,000 to winners who deliver market-oriented solutions for African-led development, the IPA acknowledges and encourages the endeavor of innovators and entrepreneurs and works to raise their profiles on the development agenda. Through this endevour, the IPA not only aims to celebrate African innovators and entrepreneurs but also to encourage a healthy competitive environment in which they strive to take the continent forward.”

Dr Benjamin Aggrey Ntim, Engineer and member of the Ghana Institution of Engineers, former Ghanaian Minister of Communications.


(4) What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

”The IPA is focused on recognizing innovative breakthroughs to unlock new African potential. If you are a young entrepreneur, academic or inventor with an innovation that could potentially provide an African solution to some of the continent’s every day challenges, apply now for the IPA 2014 now. The IPA is building a community of innovators committed to mentorship and driving news solutions across the continent. Learn more and apply at www.innovationprizeforafrica.org.”

IPA Program Director, Pauline Mujawamariya.


(5) What do you think the Africa Innovation Award is bringing to the people of the continent?

“The IPA encourages and supports African-led development through African solutions to the continent’s everyday challenges. The IPA is driving a discussion around practical actions by Africans to move the continent forward. IPA winners’ stories are highlighted to inspire and encourage young Africans to see innovation as the way forward! The best way to predict the future is to create it. The IPA is committed to building a promising future by investing in Africa’s capacity to cultivate local innovation and entrepreneurship.”

IPA Program Director, Pauline Mujawamariya.

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