From Pwanagba Agabus, Jos
A team of Nigerian technology innovators have made it to the top 20 shortlist of $1 million Hult Prize, making them the only African team still remaining in the competition.
The 2018 Hult Prize theme on ‘Harnessing the power of energy to transform ten million lives’, began from the campus level to regional level until it got to the global stage, while hundreds of participants/teams from many world class universities participated.
Speaking to journalists in Jos, the Plateau State Capital, on their chances and challenges in the competition, the prime mover of the innovation, Faisal Sani Bala, said their work was a technology that boost irrigation farming like never before and also provides light for rural communities without electricity.
He said together with his colleagues they formed the ImpactRays enterprise and their projection beyond the competition is to impact over five million lives in three years, pointing out that their technology has already being piloted in Waya Dam, Bauchi State, where local farmers have started to enjoy the irrigation technology, which also provides for their household lighting.
Bala, a graduate assistant lecturer at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi, who is currently pursuing a Masters in Mechatronics Engineering in Malaasyia, however stressed that the challenges they are having in the competition is finance, and that the other teams were being financed by their governments while theirs was from their personal pockets which has not been easy.
He explained that the Malaysian government almost took up sponsoring them in the competition but later withdrew owing to the thought that the beneficiaries of the technology would be Nigerians and not Malaysians.
Another challenge again, he said, was that he and one of the team members were yet to obtain their UK visas to attend the final 6 shortlist event, of which the programme is coming up in about two weeks’ time.