A 27-year-old Nigerian systems engineer is the proud winner of the third Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
Godwin Benson designed Tuteria, an online platform that links students to qualified tutors in their area and within their budget. Users find the skill they want to learn on an app on their phone, set their budget, and wait to be connected to the nearest tutor.
Benson won UK £25,000 (Sh3.3 million). At the awards ceremony held at the Radisson Blu hotel Nairobi on 23 May 2017, the four finalists delivered presentations before Africa Prize judges and a live audience voted for the most promising engineering innovation.
Developed from experience
Benson developed the platform based on the experiences he had as a young tutor. An important part of the service is that both students and teachers are thoroughly vetted before being allowed to use the platform.
The scope of skills on offer ranges from learning to play the piano, sew clothes, learn a new language and more. Tutors also cover a range of academic subjects for all ages.
The platform has a ratings system, and students book lessons using an upfront online payment system. Tutors are paid once the lessons have been confirmed, and Tuteria takes 15 to 30 per cent commission for each paid lesson.
Sixteen shortlisted Africa Prize entrants, from eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa, received six months training and mentoring during which they learned to develop business plans and market their innovations. The group received coaching on communicating effectively, focusing on customers and approaching investors with confidence.
“Godwin Benson’s Tuteria invention changes the way Nigerians – and Africans – share knowledge and skills with one another. We’re proud to have him as our third Africa Prize winner, and we trust Tuteria will go on to change the lives of millions of people who are eager to learn and develop new skills,” said Moses Musaazi, Africa Prize judge from Uganda.
Innovation new techonology
“His engineering innovation is not only new technology, but also a new way of thinking about education. Benson has successfully incorporated the training of the past six months into his project, and we are eager to watch Tuteria grow on the continent.”
Hot on the heels
The three runners up, who each won Sh1.3 million, are:
Andre Nel from South Africa for the GreenTower Microgrid system, which reduces the energy used to heat water by 90 per cent. A single unit can service 15 homes and reduce electricity demand from a community by 65 per cent.
Hindu Nabulumba from Uganda for the Yaaka Digital Learning Network, which teachers and students can use to share academic knowledge and materials.
Kelvin Gacheru from Kenya for the Mobi-Water system, which allows water tank users to monitor and control the water in their tanks remotely using a mobile phone. Users will be able to save more than 30 per cent of their water.
Benson commented: “I am so humbled and grateful to the Academy for the training and support. It’s such a vote of confidence to be chosen out of 16 incredible businesses. We will do the Africa Prize proud!”
Education worthwhile investment
Africa Prize judge Rebecca Enonchong said: “Education is one of the best investments we can make in our communities, and Godwin’s innovation has amazing potential for the continent. We urge him to keep persevering. We can’t wait to see how Tuteria grows.”
The long list
The other shortlisted innovators from the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation also received six months of mentorship and training. They are:
- Arnold Achiri and the Traveler team from Cameroon, for a mobile software system that monitors public transport to improve safety.
- Alex Makalliwa from Kenya for Electric Tuk-Tuks and off-grid solar-powered charging stations.
- Aline Okello and the Rainwater Harvesting App team from Mozambique, which helps users set up rainwater harvesting systems tailored to their area.
- Brian Turyabagye from Uganda with the Mama-Ope smart jacket that helps doctors identify pneumonia faster and more accurately.
- Edwin Inganji from Kenya developed the Usalama mobile phone app to speed up the reaction time of Kenya’s emergency services.
- Fredrick Ouko from Kenya with Riziki Source, a web and text message-based platform that connects people with disabilities to jobs and employers.
- James van der Walt from South Africa with the SolarTurtle mobile power station, that provides instant electrification whenever it’s needed.
- Joel King’ori Kariuku from Kenya developed the Sisal Decorticator, a mechanised peeler, that makes natural sisal fibre processing more profitable.
- Lawrence Ojok from Tanzania designed the Green Rock Drill as a solar-powered alternative to modern fossil-fuel rock drills for artisanal miners.
- Peter Mbiria from Kenya with the E-Con Wheelchair, an all-in-one wheelchair that can go off-road, climb stairs and stand upright, and auto-navigate.
- Sesinam Dagadu from Ghana developed CodeRed, a logistics app that reduces emergency response times using a custom mapping system for urban areas.
- Dr Wilfred Fritz from South Africa with the Water&Solar100 lightweight portable solar-cooker that tracks the sun automatically.
About the Prize
The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, encourages talented sub-Saharan African engineers, from all disciplines, to develop local solutions to challenges in their communities. The Prize selects innovators from across the continent and provides training and mentoring to help turn engineers with incredible ideas into successful entrepreneurs.
Launched in 2014, the Prize aims to stimulate, celebrate and reward innovative engineers from across the continent.
The third Africa Prize is currently generously supported by the Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund, Consolidated Contractors Company, ConocoPhillips, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the UK Government through the Global Challenges Research Fund.
About the Academy
As the UK’s national academy for engineering, it brings together the most successful and talented engineers to advance and promote excellence in engineering.
Besides providing analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business, the Academy takes a lead on engineering education and invests in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation.