SA entrepreneur wins Africa Prize for Engineering for smart medicine dispenser

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South African electrical engineer Neo Hutiri has won the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) 2019 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, securing GBP25,000 (US$32,000) in prize funding.

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK, is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation. Now in its fifth year, it encourages talented Sub-Saharan African engineers, from all disciplines, to develop innovations that address crucial problems in their communities in a new and appropriate way.

The first South African to win the Africa Prize, Hutiri and his team developed Pelebox, a smart locker system designed to dispense medicine to patients with chronic conditions. Used at public healthcare facilities, Pelebox cuts down on queues and eases pressure on the healthcare system.

As Africa Prize winner, Hutiri takes home GBP25,000 (US$32,000) after beating three other finalists from across Sub-Saharan Africa at an awards ceremony in Kampala, Uganda.

“Hutiri is a deserving winner. Pelebox will improve healthcare for everyone using and working in a severely strained public healthcare system,” said Africa Prize judge John Lazar.

Sixteen shortlisted Africa Prize entrants from six African countries received eight 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.

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