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Kenyan Innovator Clinches Top Engineering Prize with AI-Powered Pest Detection Tool

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In a landmark achievement for African innovation, Esther Kimani has been awarded the prestigious Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. Kimani’s groundbreaking creation – a solar-powered, AI-driven device for early detection of crop pests and diseases – stood out among 80 contenders from across the continent.

Kimani’s journey began in her hometown of Tigoni, Nyandarua County, where she witnessed firsthand the devastating crop losses suffered by smallholder farmers. This personal experience fueled her determination to develop a solution during her Computer Science studies at the University of Eldoret.

The innovative device, dubbed ‘Farmer Lifeline Technologies’, employs advanced machine learning and computer vision to swiftly identify agricultural threats. Within seconds of detecting an issue, it alerts farmers via SMS and provides tailored intervention strategies. This affordable technology, leased at just $3 per month, has the potential to reduce crop losses by 30% while boosting yields by up to 40%.

Currently serving 5,000 farmers in central Kenya, Kimani aims to expand her reach to one million farmers within five years. The Sh8.3 million prize money will fuel further development and expansion of this transformative technology.

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded in 2014 by the Royal Academy of Engineering, has supported nearly 150 entrepreneurs across 23 African countries. These innovations have generated over 28,000 jobs and impacted more than 10 million lives.

In a parallel success story, fellow Kenyan innovator Kelvin Maina secured Sh2.5 million for his ‘Eco Tiles’ project. Maina’s environmentally friendly roofing tiles, made from recycled plastics, offer a dual solution to plastic pollution and high construction costs.

These achievements underscore the rising tide of African innovation, particularly in sectors critical to economic development and environmental sustainability. As these technologies scale, they promise to reshape industries and improve lives across the continent.

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