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NIRDA fosters young graduates’ innovative projects

From Smart Urwina, which brings technology in the banana ripening process, Akwa Drop that deals with real-time water quality monitoring and treatment, San Tech Ltd with E-visitor registration system, to bird scaring technology by Umurinzi Company BGM Ltd, young graduates are innovating to solve problems affecting communities.

These young university graduates who developed these four projects are graduates from the University of Rwanda and the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Colleges.

On Friday, June 18, 2021, the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) held a graduation ceremony for the young innovators who participated in the competition of Innovate for Industry and later incubated to improve their projects.

The event took place at NIRDA's STEM for Industry Lab located at the UR's College of Science and Technology (UR-CST).

The above-mentioned projects were selected based on their potential to respond to the current needs of industries and communities at large.

As part of the incubation programme, they were earlier this month taken in a boot camp to rework their respective projects to improve them before they participated in an industrial tour to visit industries and institutions to showcase their respective projects, according to NIRDA.

Here is a brief profile of the projects and what they have to offer:

San Tech Ltd’s E-visitor registration system

Why leave your ID card at the entrance of major public places such as schools, hospitals, hotels, or offices to be allowed access when you can just hold it near a scanning device and keep it with you?

And, there is a risk that one might forget their ID card when they get out of a place in question.

This is one of the issues that E-visitor registration system developed by San Tech Ltd seeks to tackle. It was developed by San Tech Ltd., a company that was created in 2019 by graduates at the UR’s College of Science and Technology, according to Pacifique Shema, its Managing Director.

With the system, there is a device that is installed at the entrance of public place. The device records one’s identification such as the name and the number on an ID card held near it.

The process takes about five seconds, which lessens the time spent registering, Shema indicated.  

Akwa Drop

Aimé Paul Mahoro, water and sanitation engineer Akwadrop said that this is a solution meant to contribute to the provision of clean water in rural areas and water quality monitoring technology. The firm has six co-founders.

Its devices will be installed in different water treatment plants or bodies, collecting real-time data on factors such as the pH, chlorine (gas that is used to disinfect water) and temperature levels.

They, they will send data on water quality to the web platform or cloud (www.akwadrop.rw) so that clients can access them on their personal computer or phone.

“Currently, in water treatment plants, they are still using archaic water data analysis method. And, this method is time-consuming and there is no way for forecasting for future reference,” he said.

Umurinzi as alternative to children in chasing rice-eating birds

Chasing birds away from feeding on rice is an ‘employment’ that has been struggling to attract adults because of the meager wage involved. As a result, children have been an ‘easy target’ for that as they just accept whatever pay they are given, said Faida Ntibayitegera, for Bird scaring technology by Umurinzi BGM Co. Ltd.

The technology uses devices fitted with a sound system, and laser light, which work through sensors that detect the presence of rice-eating birds nearby, and scare them away.

Ntibayitegera said the type of device they have got has the capacity to emit laser light that can chase away birds at an area equivalent to a hectare. This means that, more devices can be used in case the farmland is larger.

“We realised that there was a loss of crop produce, especially for rice due to birds feeding on plantations, and that children were being employed to scare them away, and that sometimes led to their school dropout,” he said.    

Smart Urwina

This smart modern banana ripening system was developed by the graduates from IPRC Tumba, in Rulindo District. It seeks to streamline the process of banana ripening.

Currently, they said that there is poor ripening process (traditional) which make some banana get overripe, others are under-ripe, or unripen.

Still, there is an issue of banana rotting that negatively affects the improvement of banana juice extraction and Urwagwa production due to climate change or poor infrastructure.

“Bananas in our chamber are going to be ripening at the same time and at the same level, which will increase banana juice too,” she said, indicating that it will reduce those banana loss from 20 percent to five percent.

“We are going to control temperature and humidity, air circulation and quality, ethylene gas within banana ripening room,” she pointed out.  

Speaking during the closing ceremony, Christian Sekomo Birame, NIRDA Director-General assured young innovators of full support to ensure their projects are improved and commercialised.

To set an example, NIRDA acquired an E-visitors Registration device and will engage Rwamagana Banana Wine CPC Co Ltd to install Smart Urwina to ripen banana as a testing facility, with wider use expected in other industries if the trial succeeds.

“We want to make use of the knowledge and skills that the young people from the university and IPRCs through applying them in industries so that they help us address the issues facing them,” Sekomo said

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