There are many things that are considered to be of great value.
Patricia Mabviko Musanhu
These vary from individual to individual and perhaps from time to time and place to place.
I was mulling over this issue this past week wondering what it is that could be considered the most valuable asset when it comes to human development and human progress.
How possible is it that one can use this asset to achieve a measure of progress when militated by “insurmountable challenges” as is the situation in Zimbabwe today? This thought was triggered by information that I came across on “Innovation Prize for Africa,” (IPA), a competition which is running until midnight October 31 2014.
The competition is open to anyone who is African and will submit an innovative idea or project that has the potential to empower and transform entire African communities bringing about sustainable change. This initiative is the brainchild of a non-profit making organisation called Africa Innovation Foundation, (AIF), based in Zurich, Switzerland.
How much of this initiative is a challenge and how much of it is an opportunity when you consider the Zimbabwean situation? Most of us are familiar with the following quotes “You are what you think”, as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he,” and “The mind is everything, what you think you become.”
Napoleon Hill phrased it differently “There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge.” If indeed what you think is what you become, then the mind must be considered the most valuable asset as it is the place where new, progressive ideas are birthed and subsequently brought to life.
I believe Innovation Prize for Africa is offering Zimbabweans an opportunity to break out of limitations and come up with new ideas that will take the country and the continent forward. It is an opportunity for Zimbabweans to arise and demonstrate as Mary Shelley would put it that “invention does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos”.
Zimbabwean born Aulora Suerga Stally, who is the Communications Manager for Africa Innovation Foundation, is excited about this opportunity and encourages Zimbabweans from all walks of life to take advantage of this opportunity as it has the potential to transform the life of an individual as well as communities on the African continent.
“We are using this competition as a platform to recognize and promote ground breaking ideas in Africa. Last year’s winners, for example, received additional funding of US$11 million from the international community in addition to winning the first prize of US$150 000,” she said.
Aulora said that women and young people are particularly invited to participate as they are usually left out of mainstream activities.
“Zimbabwe should not be left behind. We are calling for entries in agriculture and agribusiness, environment energy and water, health and wellbeing, ICT applications, manufacturing as well as service industries,” she added. The winning projects are selected by a panel of judges who are representative of the African continent. Amongst other things, the judges will be looking for originality, marketability of the project, scalability, social impact as well as the technological or scientific significance of the project.
“I am encouraging as many Zimbabweans as possible to take advantage of this opportunity that has the potential to put Zimbabwe on the map. This is not a competition for scientists. It is for anyone who is willing to think outside the box and come up with an idea that will address the myriad of challenges we are facing on the continent. ”
The award, which was launched in 2009, has had three prize winners to date. Professor Mohamed Sanad won in 2012 after creating a new in -phone and mobile antennae that operates across all frequency bands overcoming challenges faced by existing antennas.
In 2013, an AgriProtein team from South Africa won after devising a method to use water and fly larvae to produce natural animal feed.
The second prize winner in 2014, Logou Minsob from Togo, received US$25 000 after creating a Foufou Mix machine which was judged as an innovation with the best business potential. The machine is a food processor designed to replace the mortar and pestle used to prepare Foufou, a popular West African dish.
I believe it is time for Africa to tap into its human potential to find solutions to the challenges that are standing in the way of development instead of looking to the outside world for financial assistance. Innovation Prize for Africa is definitely an opportunity for a Zimbabwean to break new ground! For more information on this competition as well as how to apply visit www.innovationprizeforafrica.org
Patricia Mabviko Musanhu is a Company Director/Producer at Black and White Media Productions. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org