Cameroon's Arthur Zang Wins Top African Prize for Engineering

A portable heart diagnostic invention has won its developer the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.

The Cardio-Pad, developed by Marc Arthur Zang from Cameroon, is a device that helps medical professionals, especially those in rural communities, diagnose heart problems and send the results through mobile phones to heart surgeons for interpretations.

Zang was selected from 12 entrepreneurs who have developed engineering innovations in fields such as agriculture, health and renewable energy to tackle development challenges on the continent, according to the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering, which organised the competition, now in its second year.

“The Cardio-Pad should allow quick, low cost, cardiac illness detection and monitoring in rural villages and towns.” - Malcolm Brinded, Shell Foundation

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation comes with a £25,000 (US$ 36,500) cash prize. Last year's winner was Tanzanian chemical engineer Askwar Hilonga, who invented a sand-based filter that can be used to remove impurities such as copper, fluoride and bacteria from water.

Twelve finalists from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe were shortlisted from 58 applicants, the RAEng adds.

Four innovations, including Zang's CardioPad, were shortlisted from the twelve best applicants to pitch their innovations to a team of judges at the event in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania. A live audience then voted for the innovation that they thought was the best.

The three runners-up were:

  • Kamata, a device that prevents electricity theft by alerting authorities and cutting of power supply developed by Eddie Aijuka from Uganda,
  • Totohealth, a web-based tool that provides life-saving advice to mothers and pregnant women created by Kenyan Felix Kimaru,
  • Standard Microgrid, a tool that boosts rural electrification and cuts energy costs, developed by Matt Wainwright from South Africa. Each of these innovations received US$14,500.

"This award has allowed me to measure myself against the best engineers in Africa", Zang said after receiving the award. "I was pushed to the limits, and it has made me a better scientist and a better entrepreneur."

All the finalists will receive six months of training and mentoring from business development and engineering experts.

"The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation encourages ambitious, talented Sub-Saharan African engineers to apply their skills to develop scalable solutions to local challenges", says Moses Musaazi, a judge of the competition, who also is a senior lecturer at Makerere University and managing director of Technology for Tomorrow Limited, Uganda.

Malcolm Brinded, head of the judges and chair of the Shell Foundation, adds, “The Cardio-Pad should allow quick, low cost, cardiac illness detection and monitoring in rural villages and towns, addressing a huge African health challenge.”

Emmanuel N. Angmor, a lecturer at the Faculty of Development Studies, Presbyterian University College, Ghana, welcomes the innovations, and urges African governments to boost their scale-up for economic development.

Cover Image by Cardio-Pad | Published by SciDev.Net Sub-Sahara