Kenyan students emerge top innovators in Africa

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Innovators Stacy Owino from Jkuat, Cynthia Otieno, Purity Achieng, Mascrine Atieno and Ivy Akinyi from Kisumu Girls.

A group of four students from Kisumu girl’s high school, and one from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat), have won the African of the Year Award.

Innovators Stacy Owino from Jkuat, Cynthia Otieno, Purity Achieng, Mascrine Atieno and Ivy Akinyi from Kisumu Girls, all aged between 16-18 years, received the global recognition award for developing a mobile application ‘i-cut’ which connects Kenyan girls affected by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to legal and medical assistance a year ago.

The group, christened restorers, which aims at preventing FGM in specific areas such as Kisii, Somali, Samburu and Maasai-land were awarded Sh2.5 million prize money at a ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria mid last week.

Speaking after declaring the students winners of the much coveted prize in Africa, head of brand marketing at Media Trust Limited Gift Ilesanmi said the innovators beat several dozen nominees to join a special group of eleven distinguished Africans, including the Nobel peace prize winner and Congolese surgeon Dennis Mukwege, who have won the award over the past eleven years.

The entry that closely resembles petals, an anti-FGM app developed by Coventry University and rolled out in Wolverhampton at the United Kingdom has specific features that help those at risk to communicate and get help from the relevant authorities in the country. It is fitted with a call button, text in-app, an informative blog for the public, a get feedback rescue button, and a donate feature which allows various organisations, companies and individual well-wishers to help run the rescue centers by delivering donations in various forms.

The group based at Lakehub Incubation Centre in Kisumu was the only team picked to represent the African continent in the 2017 technovation challenge sponsored by Google, Verizon and the United Nations at the Silicon Valley, USA.

According to Stacy Adhiambo who is currently pursuing computer science at Jkuat, the group, formed two years ago, has partnered with several non-governmental organizations to restore hope to hopeless girls in remote areas.