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Six Kenyan engineering innovations in top contention for Africa prize

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Kenyan innovator  Kelvin Gacheru shows a test-installation of the sensor unit attached to a water tank atop a hotel building in Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY

Kenyan innovator Kelvin Gacheru shows a test-installation of the sensor unit attached to a water tank atop a hotel building in Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY  

By DOREEN WAINAINAH dwainainah@ke.nationmedia.com

Posted  Wednesday, January 11   2017 at  19:48

In Summary

  • Launched in 2014, the Prize aims to stimulate, celebrate and reward innovative engineers from across the continent.

On completing his water engineering training, Kelvin Gacheru was stationed in various areas across the country setting up water projects.

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Working in Matuu, Narok, and Loitoktok among other relatively dry areas, he saw the struggle to get water and also struggled with monitoring the projects.

“We set up the projects but once we left it was difficult to monitor them and see whether they were sustainable,” said Mr Gacheru.

The challenge prompted the engineer to develop a way to keep track of the water, which was achieved through the Tank Mkononi monitoring system.

The system keeps track of water levels and automatically sends a text to the user alerting them when the water levels go below a certain point.

This allows a user to monitor tanks across the country through the sensor connected to a controller in the tank.

Gacheru’s system is one of the six Kenyan innovations that have been shortlisted for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Launched in 2014, the Prize aims to stimulate, celebrate and reward innovative engineers from across the continent.

The Africa Prize is 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.

The shortlist consists of 16 innovations, with Kenya having the highest number of innovations.

Gacheru hopes that with funding for the grant, he can distribute the SMS platform to communities in water scarce areas to locate and access the nearest water point and the nearest water point and if it has water.

The system will also allow water suppliers to know the demand and sustainability of their water in a particular area.

In 2013, an experience in the hands of criminals in Nairobi prompted a shaken Edwin Inganji to come up with a panic button to help individuals access emergency services.

Dubbed Usalama, the Swahili word for safety, the app can be activated quickly and silently, alerting the emergency services simply by shaking the phone three times, holding down the volume button, or tapping on the emergency icon.
It works by immediately alerting the police forces, friends and fellow users of the app.

Inganji who is a computer scientist developed Usalama in an effort to make sure that help gets to people most in need.
He is the second Kenyan on the shortlist.

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