An Ethiopian mechanical engineer has been shortlisted for a prestigious award: the 2023 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation (APEI) Established in 2014, APEI is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to developing African innovators and enhancing their impact through business incubation, mentoring, fundraising, and communications. Fikru Gebre has been nominated for developing the multi-purpose earth brick machine in response to the tough maintenance and repairs required for building homes. The manually operated portable construction machine interlocks compressed standard shape and size bricks. According to Fikru, this will improve the lack of access to advanced materials and the increased time spent maintaining homes built from 95pc soil and the remaining cement. The machine requires little maintenance and is easy to transport. “It is cost-effective and environmentally friendly,” Fikru said. He studied engineering at universities in Bahir Dar and Meqelle, before moving to Jimma University in 2009, where he has been lecturing and researching. Fikru is among the 16 contenders from East and West Africa, with the prospect of winning 25,000 euros; the award will be held in London. Other contenders for the prize include Nigerians, Ghanaians and South Africans. The innovations are expected to provide engineering solutions to healthcare, agriculture, education, food security, and energy sectors crucial to UN Sustainable Development Goals, according to a release from the Royal Academy of Engineering, headquartered in London.
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