Nigerian Innovators – Monday Motivation

Monday’s to me are reminders for the goals I’m yet to achieve, plans I’m yet to put in motion. So I always look for motivation to put me on track. Here are a few Nigerians achieving great things to give you a little motivation.

Ayodeji Adewunmi,Opeyemi Awoyemi & Olalekan Olude
Nigeria / ICT / Employment

While many believe Nigeria’s high rate of unemployment is caused by a lack of jobs, there is another critical issue – closing the gap between talent and opportunity. This is what Ayodeji Adewunmi and his fellow co-founders are trying to accomplish through Jobberman, a Lagos-based, pan-African online job search engine. Jobberman was started by three entrepreneurs – Ayodeji Adewunmi, Opeyemi Awoyemi and Olalekan Olude – during their last year of university. The trio held a common interest in addressing Nigeria’s unemployment issues and quickly joined forces to develop the innovative platform. Today, backed by a powerful private equity firm, Jobberman has blossomed into West Africa’s most popular job site, with over one million jobseeking professionals and 23,000 employers as of June 2014.


Kunlé Adeyemi
Makoko Floating School
Nigeria / Architecture

Makoko is one of the poorest areas in the Nigerian megacity of Lagos. Perched right on the edge of the massive Lagos,Lagoon, it is often prone to flooding, and thus many homes are built on wooden platforms that sit above the water.

Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi had a vision to develop a sustainable community in Makoko that incorporated water as part of its central plan. His vision became a reality in March 2013 when his team completed a solar-powered school made from local materials that floats on recycled plastic barrels. The Makoko Floating School takes an innovative approach to addressing the social and physical needs of poorer communities that will suffer disproportionately in the wake of climate change and a rapidly urbanising African landscape. More importantly, the school offers children in this slum an opportunity for a similar education to those in better-resourced urban areas. The floating school was nominated for the International Award for Public Art and World Design of the Year in 2014.


Oluyombo Awojobi
Awojobi Clinic, Eruwa (ACE)
Nigeria / Health

In a rural area of Nigeria where, as elsewhere on the African continent, high-quality machinery and electricity are not easily accessible, Dr Oluyombo Awojobi built a clinic that delivers quality care using techniques and improvised devices, constructed right on site.

Dr Awojobi set up his clinic in Eruwa, Oyo State, Nigeria in 1986 after spending some years working as a surgeon at a district hospital in the same area. At ACE, he makes use of materials that are easily accessible within his immediate environment. For example, he has built a hematorcrit centrifuge from a bicycle wheel that can turn at 5,400 rpm, creating a force 3,000 times stronger than Earth’s gravity to separate oxygen-carrying red cells from a patient’s blood. He has also constructed an operating table that is 90 percent wood and 10 percent metal. Used maize cobs serve as fuel to generate the heat for terilizing surgical equipment, and rain water collected during the rainy season is stored for use in flushing toilets during the dry season. Not one to keep his life-saving knowledge to himself, Dr Awojobi has published his designs and findings in numerous international medical journals. He recently passed away in April of 2015.


Ndubuisi Ekekwe
Advancements in Medicine
Nigeria / ICT

Ndubuisi Ekekwe represents the perfect blend of science, technology and entrepreneurship – the ethos of African innovations. Professor Ekwekwe started his first business – Ultinet Systems – fresh out of university, by selling computers to university lecturers and professors. Although the business was successful, he decided to go back to school. During his time at Johns Hopkins University, Professor Ekekwe conducted research around creating artificial human organs such as the retina, cochlea and the brain. A holder of two doctoral and four master’s degrees, Ekekwe is a pioneer in technology in Africa.

Professor Ekwekwe holds two pending patents on microelectronics and has consulted for universities and the World Bank. As well as holding visiting appointments in two African universities, Professor Ekwekwe founded the African Institution of Technology, which is now sponsored by billionaire entrepreneur, Tony Elumelu.
Professor Ekwekwe is also the founder and CEO of FASMICRO Group, which controls businesses in microelectronics, cyber security, real estate and ICT. Professor Ekwekwe has received several awards, such as the United Kingdom Congress on Computer Assisted Surgery, and was nominated for the Johns Hopkins Institutions Diversity Recognition Award.

Captain Abubakar Surajo Imam
Removable Burglary Prevention Bars
Nigeria / Infrastructure (Construction)

Across the continent, security has always been an issue –especially in countries where citizens lack faith in law enforcement. In urban areas, many houses sit behind high walls and have windows covered by burglary proofing of some form or another, usually gates or iron rods that cover existing windows and doors. However, these home protections can also trap residents inside in times of danger, such as fires or armed robberies. Nigerian Army Captain, Abubakar Surajo Imam, has developed a very simple yet crucial piece of technology that effectively enhances the security of a building while also acting as an emergency exit. Imam’s burglary bars have a unique locking mechanism that can only be accessed from inside a building. This makes windows and doors that have them completely impenetrable from the outside but accessible from the interior when residents are faced with imminent danger.

The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) placed Imam’s burglar bar invention on its shortlist for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, describing it as flexible, versatile, and efficient for homes or business places. Captain Imam is a mechanical engineer with the Nigerian Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (NAEME) Corps and has also served at the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) Kaduna, where he was instrumental in the development of Nigerian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). He is also the author of several international conference papers in addition to pursuing his doctoral degree in the School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering, Newcastle University.

Justus Nwaoga
Mimosa Weed Solar Energy
Nigeria / Power/ Renewable Energy

Professor Justus Nwaoga is a Nigerian man with a mission. He is the chief engineer in the Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry Department at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, and has turned a common weed into a potentially viable source of solar technology.

Professor Nwaoga discovered the potential of the weed mimosa pudica in accumulating solar energy when he noticed that its leaves opened at sunrise and folded at sunset. Further exploration showed that the plants contain a compound he calls “black silicon”, which is responsible for their sensitivity to light. Professor Nwaoga has used the same pigments extracted from the weed to create solar panels which have generated attention from places as far afield as China – the world’s leading manufacturer of solar panels. The author of Plant Weed for Solar Cell Development, Professor Nwaoga was one of 10 finalists for the Innovation Prize for Africa in 2013.


Okechukwu Ofili
Okada Books
Nigeria / Literature / ICT

With one innovation Okechukwu Ofili has provided an effective solution to two of Nigeria’s biggest literary headaches: the deteriorating reading culture and a lack of access to indigenous literature. Ofilli’s Okada Books is an easy-to-access online bookstore and mobile app that makes thousands of Nigerian books available to readers on their personal computers or mobile devices.

Ofilli, an author and engineer, says that Okada Books seeks to harness the power of the mobile phone to make it easier and cheaper for Nigerians to read. His application currently has over 8,000 books, 27,000 users and 316,000 downloads. Okada Books was named the “MTN App of the Year” for 2013.

Nnedimma Nkemdili Okorafor 
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing
Nigeria / Literature

Nigerian-American, Nnedi Okorafor, is one of the most successful sojourners in the world of science fiction and fantasy literature. Okorafor has received global recognition for the creative blend of African culture, science fiction and magical realism that she brings to life in her books. Several of her novels and short stories have received awards and positive reviews. Among them, her novel Zahrah the Windseeker has won the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature and her novel Who Fears Death won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

Okorafor began writing as a way to cope with the complication of paralysis that resulted from surgery to correct her severe scoliosis. She had been a star athlete and tennis player in high school and college, but the complications and subsistent recovery cut short the possibility of career in sports. As Okorafor’s sporting dreams faded, her passion for writing germinated and blossomed, and she went on to earn her Master’s and PhD in English. She is now a professor of Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Buffalo.


Oyekunle Ayinde Olukotun
Multi-core processors
Nigeria / ICT

Fellow of the globally acclaimed Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Professor Olukotun is a pioneer of multi-core processors – a foundation of the IT revolution of the past three decades. In the mid-1990s, Olukotun and his colleagues argued that multi-core computer processors were likely to make better use of hardware than existing designs. In 2000, while a professor at Stanford, Olukotun founded Afara Web systems, a company that designed and manufactured multi-core, SPARC-based computer processors for data centres.

Following Olokutun’s discovery, Intel and other IT giants began to develop multi-core processes during the early 2000s. They have become the base of modern Central Processing Unites (CPUs), the key component of any computer system.In 2008, Olukotun founded the Pervasive Parallelism Laboratory at Stanford after gathering $6 million in funding from several computer industry corporations. The laboratory explores how to increase the efficiency of computers and programming languages.
Olukotun is a member of the board of advisors of UDC, a Nigerian venture capital firm. He was also elected as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery in 2006 for his “contributions to multiprocessors on a chip and multi-threaded processor design”.

Cyprian Emeka Uzoh
Chip Interconnection Technology
Nigeria / Device Hardware and Device Communication 

A technologist, scientist and prolific inventor, Cyprian Emeka Uzoh holds more than 300 semiconductor patents worldwide and is co-author of more than 35 publications in scientific journals. He is a pioneer in the field of computer electronics and has discovered, co-developed and co-implemented various critical elements and technologies, which have led to the successful implementation of copper interconnect technology at companies like the IBM Corporation. Uzoh is also responsible for the bottom-up metal plating process in submicron features, a critical technology used across the breath of the semiconductor industry in today’s cell phones, laptops, servers and super computers.

After finishing secondary school in eastern Nigeria, Uzoh attended college and graduate school in the United States where he studied metallurgical engineering. Holder of Patent number 6709562: Method of Making Electroplated Interconnection Structures on Integrated Circuit Chips, which was a key development in chip technology, Uzoh is likely responsible for the developments that have empowered Africa’s mobile technology explosion by making components smaller and cheaper.

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