Uganda software engineer Brian Gitta has been crowned the winner of the £25 000 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation for his Matibabu malaria test kit that enables users to conduct tests without having to draw blood.
Gitta’s test kit — which uses a laser to detect changes in the shape, colour, and concentration of red blood cells, all of which are affected by malaria — was selected ahead of three other finalists whose innovations included a tamper-proof electricity meter, and a textbook-sized mini-science lab.
The Matibabu malaria test kit uses a laser to detect changes in the shape, colour, and concentration of red blood cells, all of which are affected by malaria
The award, which is organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK, was held in Nairobi, Kenya. The prize aims to turn innovative engineers into successful entrepreneurs.
In a statement yesterday, Gitta (pictured above) described the win as a “big achievement”.
“We are incredibly honoured to win the Africa Prize — it’s such a big achievement for us, because it means that we can better manage production in order to scale clinical trials and prove ourselves to regulators.
“The recognition will help us open up partnership opportunities — which is what we need most at the moment,” he said.
The three runners up each won £10 000. The runners up are: Zimbabwean Collins Saguru for his low-cost AltMet precious metals recovery process; Nigerian Ifediora Ugochukwu for iMeter, an intelligent metering system; and Ghanaian Michael Asante-Afrifa for his Science Set mini-science lab.
Gitta’s low-cost device is capable of providing results within one minute, and does not require special expertise to operate it. The device is currently undergoing testing in partnership with a national hospital in Uganda.
Africa Prize for Engineering judge Rebecca Enonchong said Gitta’s device is a “perfect example of how engineering can unlock development — in this case by improving healthcare”
“Matibabu is simply a game-changer,” Enonchong said in the same statement.
By Thinah Bhengu