Cameroonian heart-monitoring device wins $38k prize

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Cameroonian innovator Arthur Zang has been named winner of the second Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation for his heart-monitoring device the Cardio-Pad, taking away GBP25,000 (US$38,000) in prize money.

The Africa Prize, organised by the United Kingdom’s Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) and now in its second year, is the continent’s largest prize dedicated to engineering innovation.

Disrupt Africa reported in November last year 12 entrepreneurs had been selected to go through six months of training and mentoring ahead of the actual awards ceremony, where Zang was named winner for his invention.

The Cardio-Pad is a small tablet device that allows any medical professional to perform heart diagnostics at any location. These diagnostics, sent to a cardiologist via a mobile phone network, are interpreted in under 20 minutes. The invention can help discover, monitor or rule out heart conditions, without expensive trips to cities where cardiologists are based.

Hundreds of Cardio-Pads have been built, and the device has already been sold in Cameroon, Gabon, India and Nepal. Zang recently opened a medical assembly facility for the device in Yaoundé, with devices distributed to hospitals and clinics free of charge and subscriptions charged to individual patients at a low yearly rate.

“I was very impressed by Arthur Zang and his team, which aims to help patients in communities where access to cardiac specialists is limited. We are very proud to have him as our second Africa Prize winner,” said head judge Malcolm Brinded.

Zang said the award had allowed him to measure himself against the best engineers in Africa, pushing him to the limit and making him a better scientist and a better entrepreneur.

“It has also grown my ambitions for the Cardio-Pad and my company, Himore Medical – which I now aim to grow into a global leader in medical manufacturing,” he said.

“I’m also very proud to win for my country. I hope it will help to restore hope to those who still doubt that Africa has a bright future.”

“Arthur’s technology is powerful and solves a real problem,” said inaugural Africa Prize winner Dr Askwar Hilonga, who presented the prize to Zang.

“It touches the underserved communities, and is a tangible technology that Africa can be proud of – developed in Africa, for Africans.

Three runners-up each took away GBP10,000 (US$14,500) in prize money: Uganda’s Eddie Aijuka for an electricity-theft-prevention device, Kenya’s Felix Kimaru and Totohealth for a web-based information network for mothers and pregnant women, and South Africa’s Matt Wainwright and the Standard Microgrid team for an electricity utility-in-a-box that speeds up rural electrification and reduces energy costs.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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