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Reinforcing Ingenuity of Young African Minds through Sustainable Innovation

Reinforcing Ingenuity of Young African Minds through Sustainable Innovation

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By Chiemelie Ezeobi 


For addressing some of the critical contemporary security threat that faces the nation at large, kidnapping and burglary, by producing a ‘Silent Digital Alarming Device’ that would aid combatting home and commercial burglary, as well as tackle unauthorised access into designated buildings and kidnappings in the society, a quartet of Igbogbi College students recently emerged winners of Sahara Foundation’s STEAMERS Catch Them Young and Curious Initiative.

When Sahara Foundation launched its STEAMERS “Catch Them Young and Curious” Initiative, the goal was to inspire a young generation of African changemakers to tackle prevalent challenges within their communities by identifying novel approaches and developing innovative solutions to address such local problems.

In line with that commitment to accelerate sustainable development in Africa and beyond, Sahara Foundation, which is the corporate responsibility vehicle of energy and infrastructure conglomerate, Sahara Group, gave 150 students access to deep-dive classroom learning and practical sessions conducted by the program’s implementing partner, STEMCafe, a non-linear learning centre as well as mentors from Sahara Foundation Volunteer Group.

The Process 

The “Sahara Foundation STEAMers” Regional competition featured the top three teams that emerged from the National Demo Day competitions that held in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda.

The regional finalists presented prototype designs of their solutions targeting several sectors including home automation, agriculture, security, energy, health, and transportation.

According to the foundation, the students displayed a profound understanding of embedded systems, additive manufacturing, and the ability to use human-centred design in creating sustainable solutions to prevalent social problems around them, but at the end of the day, a winner would emerge.

Winning Group and Innovative “The Watchman”

At the end of the exercise, students from Igbobi College, Lagos, Nigeria, emerged as regional winners of the Sahara Foundation Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Program aimed at giving young African inventors a platform to develop their creativity.

Known as ‘The Watchmen’, the winning group of Njubigbo Onyeka, Ayo Mofe Moses, Ayilo John, and Maduanusi Chigozirim produced a remarkable ‘Silent Digital Alarming Device’ which they named ‘The Watchman.’ The device can help combat home and commercial burglary, as well as tackle unauthorised access into designated buildings and kidnappings in the society.

The students explained that the device enhances security through detection of the crime at the time where the crime begins, and alerts authorised persons through a registered device making them aware that a crime in progress.

The device can also send a phone call to the police station registered on the device. “The device is ready for mass production, and we are confident that it would help increase security and lead to a safer community for all,” they said.

The Watchmen beat eight other groups to emerge overall winner. The team from St Peters, Kampala, Uganda emerged first runner-up with their ‘Plant Watering System’ invention, while the team from Olympic High School, Nairobi, Kenya emerged second runner-up with their ‘Distance Sensor Alarm’ invention.

Reinforcing Ingenuity of Africa’s Young Minds

Echoing their stance, Managing Director, Sahara Group, Emmanuel Magani said: ‘’The Sahara Foundation STEAMers program has again reinforced the ingenuity of Africa’s young minds and to see such array of top-quality inventions targeting key issues in Africa, developed by secondary students, validates Sahara’s commitment to investing in Africa’s next generation of inventors.”

He further urged the students to stay curious, keep exploring their creativity, deepen their STEAM knowledge further, and continue pushing the boundaries of innovation towards solving challenges around them.

STEMCafe’s Viable Partnership 

For STEMCafe, a non-linear learning centre, its partnership with Sahara Foundation meant it provided classroom learning and practical sessions.

According to Bosun Tijani, Founder, STEMCafe, ‘’the opportunity to expose more young people to STEM through projects that solve real life problems drives our goal of raising a new generation of changemakers across Africa.”

He said the organisation’s partnership with Sahara Foundation had paved the way for taking the “desire to dream” to more young Africans.

Identifying Next Generation of Africa’s Problem Solvers

Director, Sahara Foundation, Pearl Uzokwe commended all participants for being “worthy ambassadors of Africa” and a source of hope for a “sustainably prosperous Africa in which no one will be left behind.”

She said the goal of Sahara Foundation’s STEAMers initiative was to identify, train, and empower the next generation of Africa’s smart technologists, creative thinkers, and confident problem solvers.

“Sahara Foundation desires to produce a well-rounded army of youths with the confidence to achieve outstanding feats that will advance Africa’s socio-economic development. We are delighted with this maiden edition and look forward to much more,” she added.

Uzokwe thanked the program’s implementing partner, STEMCafe, the principals and management of all participating schools, as well as other stakeholders that contributed to the success of this year’s program. She announced that plans for the next edition are in progress.

Sahara Group’s Commitment

For Sahara Group, its commitment to enabling growth for all is all encompassing given that beyond business, it continues to touch countless lives by placing premium on human resource, all targeted at empowering the society.

To achieve this, the group, through the Sahara Foundation has gone from identifying valuable partnerships that supports innovation across Africa to improving access to quality education as a viable means to achieving sustainable communities.

On its part, the foundation is committed to accelerating sustainable development in Africa and beyond.

Catch Them Young and Curious Initiative 

The Sahara Foundation’s STEAMers “Catch Them Young and Curious” is a Science Technology Engineering, Art and Maths (STEAM) educational program designed in partnership with STEMCafe to create an opportunity for young people to access a deep dive learning experience, get immersed in a practical classroom and have access to world-class maker labs leading them on the journey to becoming technical problem solvers.

The initiative raised 150 student participants with creative confidence, a deep understanding of embedded systems, additive manufacturing, and practical experience in using human-centred design in creating sustainable solutions to business and social problems.




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