Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Arusha man shortlisted for Sh67m engineering award

Mr Lawrence Ojock at work in Arusha, handling

Mr Lawrence Ojock at work in Arusha, handling one of the environment-friendly machines he has invented. PHOTO |STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER. 

By Syriacus Buguzi @buguzi sbuguzi@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. An Arusha-based innovator, Mr Lawrence Ojok, 40, stands a chance to win over £25,000 (Sh67 million) after being one of the 16 Africans shortlisted for the Royal Academy of Engineering Prize.

Mr Ojok invented an environment-friendly rock drill, the ‘Green Rock Drill’, which can reshape mining for artisanal miners across Africa.

His innovation is expected to create an efficient mining environment for eight million small-scale miners, who usually burst and drill rocks with a hammer and a chisel, according to the event organisers.

He is among the candidates for the Africa Prize from 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The award covers all engineering disciplines, the organisers said in a statement availed to The Citizen yesterday.

In a telephone interview with The Citizen from Arusha yesterday, Mr Ojok said the grill machine uses neither diesel nor electricity. “It is powered by a battery and, therefore, there produces no carbon emissions,’’ he said.

It cost him around Sh10 million to design. “It was not an easy task. There was a lot of trial and error as I came up with the idea to make the Grill,’’ he added.

Also on the Prize shortlist are those who invented mechanisms for reducing water waste and enabling small-scale farmers to irrigate their fields in remote areas, and a solar-cooker that tracks the sun and has temperature and timing controls.

They are tackling global challenges as diverse as climate change, childhood diseases and access to renewable energy. Sixteen of the continent’s most promising entrepreneurs have been selected as the 2016/17 shortlist for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.

The other shortlisted innovators come from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique and Uganda. They will undergo an intensive six-month training and mentorship in business and entrepreneurial skills before the winner is named.

The Africa Prize is organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering. It aims to recognise and reward innovative African engineers so as to raise the profile of engineering in the continent.

Now in its third year, the Africa Prize equips talented engineers with tools and expert advice to develop their innovations into a business. “Over the years, we’ve seen the Africa Prize alumni go on to promote businesses,” said judging panel chair Malcolm Brinded.

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