Innovators from Africa recognised at Commonwealth 70th anniversary

Fifteen trailblazers won the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Award, with winners attending a special ceremony on Friday, 14 June

The Duke of Sussex presented prizes to innovators in international development at a garden party celebrating the Commonwealth’s 70th anniversary in London.

Fifteen trailblazers won the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Award, with winners attending a special ceremony on Friday, 14 June.

Amongst them was Elizabeth Kperrun from Nigeria, CEO of Zenafri – a company that simplifies learning for African children and young adults by creating mobile applications and video content that educates them in their native language.

Upon receiving her award from Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, Prince Harry, she said: “This award will give us more visibility. It goes a long way towards helping us achieve our objective of making education more accessible for under-privileged kids in Africa.”

Fellow winner Rosette Muhoza from Rwanda (pictured above) founded the social enterprise My Green Home, which recycles plastic waste by mixing it with sand to make eco-friendly paving stones.

She said: “This award represents perseverance, possibility and pride. One of the biggest challenge we have is finding support. We want people to encourage social entrepreneurs – these are the people who don’t sleep because they are trying to solve the problems in our communities.”

John Oroko (Kenya), Chukwudi Anyanaso (Nigeria), Peter Rubashumira Tibigambwa (Uganda) and Franca Ma-ih Sulem Yong (Cameroon) were also recognised.

Each award winner received a trophy, a certificate and a £2000 prize. They were selected by an independent jury, based on the impact for potential of their innovations to advance one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The initiative seeks to showcase impactful innovations and forward-looking solutions that help countries advance the Commonwealth Charter values.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “I am impressed by the talent that is mobilised and multiplied through Commonwealth connection.

“There are also many other inventors and innovators of all ages in every country and community of the Commonwealth and it is they who drive us on towards a future of health, hope and harmony.”

It is hoped the competition will help shine the spotlight on revolutionary ideas that could improve prosperity, protect the planet, promote peace and justice and encourage partnerships in the Commonwealth.

This is the first year of the awards, which were open to all citizens and organisations of the 53 Commonwealth member countries.