Young Kenyan engineer goes for top Africa prize in innovation

Kelvin Gicheru who has invented a mobile solution tackling water challenges in Kenya stands to win Sh3.3 million

Kenya’s Kelvin Gacheru’s has been shortlisted for the for the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation set to take place on 23rd May, 2017 in Nairobi for the first time.

Kevin’s innovation is Mobi-Water, a smart solar-powered water monitoring system.

The water resource engineer designed the Mobi-Water system to enable water tank owners to monitor and control the water levels in their tanks from any location using their mobile phones.

Mobi-Water sends a text message alert to up to 10 mobile numbers when water levels drop below a certain point. Users can remotely open and close valves and pumps if they want to refill the tank or redirect the water.

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Kevin joins three other finalists from Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda, who were chosen for their engineering innovations which provide solutions to local problems. The winner will receive £25,000 (Ksh3.34 million) and £10,000 (Ksh1.33 million) will be awarded to each of the runners up.

The four finalists were selected from a pool of 16 shortlisted candidates from across sub-Saharan Africa, who all received six months of training and mentorship.

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The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering and launched in 2014, encourages talented sub-Saharan African engineers, from all disciplines, to develop local solutions to challenges in their communities. The Prize selects innovators from across the continent and provides training and mentoring to help turn engineers with incredible ideas into successful entrepreneurs.

Rise to fame

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

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.

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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.

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