Sahara Foundation, the corporate social responsibility vehicle of Sahara Group, launched the Sahara Steamers Programme to give young inventors a platform to showcase their innovative abilities and hone their technical skills. The program which was designed to create an opportunity for 150 participants across three countries; Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda to explore ways of proffering solutions to global issues through an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM).
It also gives them access to a deep dive learning experience in practical classrooms, and world-class labs, leading them on the journey of becoming technical problem solvers. The classroom sessions were conducted by the program’s implementing partner, STEMCafe, a non-linear learning center as well as mentors from Sahara Foundation Volunteer Group.
After a rigorous National Demo preliminary that was held in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda, the top three teams that emerged winners went ahead to represent their respective countries at the regional competition. The regional finalists presented prototype designs of their solutions targeting several sectors including home automation, agriculture, security, energy, health, and transportation. The students displayed a profound understanding of embedded systems, additive manufacturing, and the ability to use human-centered design in creating sustainable solutions to prevalent social problems around them.
At the end of the regionals, Igbobi College contingents also Known as ‘The Watchmen’ took the first position. The group comprises of Njubigbo Onyeka, Ayo Mofe Moses, Ayilo John, and Maduanusi Chigozirim. The students 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 unauthorized access into designated buildings and kidnappings in society.
The students explained that the device enhances security through detection of the crime at the time the crime begins, and alerts authorized persons through a registered device making them aware that a crime is 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 student from St Peters, Kampala, Uganda emerged first runner-up with their ‘Plant Watering System’ invention. The team included Samantha Nabaggala, Ntende Paulson Muyinda, Tumuhaise Bridget, Nabaasa Beckham, Otim Jeremy Jason, and Mbabazi Meshack. The remarkable ‘Plant Watering System’ named ‘Ziggo’ was invented to address the issue of food insecurity in Uganda, as explained by the young innovators.
The students further explained that the Ziggo plant watering system uses sprinklers and an underground pump consisting of a soil moisture sensor to detect water levels of the soil and a thermos sensor to detect soil temperature. They added that the invention would support water harvesting, improve irrigation farming, and reduce the rate of famine significantly in Uganda and Africa as a whole if the device is applied widely.
The Ziggo plant watering system inventors finished first runner-up behind the group from Igbobi College, Lagos, Nigeria who emerged the overall winner with their ‘Silent Digital Alarming Device’.
Vincent Mutua, Braxton Lumbasi, Joshua Mwilwatsi, Larryson Muthama, Linah Mideva, and Martin Ochola; collectively known as ‘Venus Inventors’, from Olympic High School, Kenya finished as the second runner-up. The students produced an amazing ‘Ultrasonic Distance Sensor Alarm System’ that helps combat insecurity and promote energy efficiency. The students explained that the device would help reduce home and car burglaries in Kenya. It is also designed to reduce energy consumption, which reduces living expenses. The students used components such as Arduino, jumper wires, and a passive infrared motion sensor to create this device.
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 also urged the students to stay curious, to keep exploring their creativity, to deepen their STEAM knowledge further, and to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation toward solving challenges around them.
Bosun Tijani, Founder, STEMCafe, in his words, stated that ‘‘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 organization’s partnership with Sahara Foundation had paved the way for taking the “desire to dream” to more young Africans.
Director, Sahara Foundation, Pearl Uzokwe commended all participants for being “worthy ambassadors of Africa” and a source of hope for “sustainably prosperous Africa in which no one will be left behind.” She further mentioned that the goal of Sahara Foundations 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.