Crucial antibiotic advance wins African innovation prize

The Innovation Prize for Africa has been awarded to a Moroccan researcher for developing a natural alternative to antibiotics that could revolutionise the way the world treats its livestock.

Biotechnology professor Adnane Remmal took home the $100,000 cash prize after judges recognised his remarkable work. The professor’s new treatment can be added to either an animal’s feed or drinking water and is built from naturally occurring molecules that possess anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic and anti-fungal properties.

“My innovation provides farmers with solutions to improve their production,” Adnane Remmal said in his award-acknowledging statement.

“It is cost-effective and can be easily adopted, giving farmers increased benefits without the side effects of antibiotics.”

The discovery is being heralded as an especially crucial advance, coming amidst growing global concern at the rise of drug-resistant diseases due to the over-use of antibiotic medicine in farming.

The ceremony was held on Remmal’s home-turf in Morocco, where two $25,000 prizes were also awarded. Kenya’s Alex Mwaura Muriu won the prize for innovation with the best business potential, after developing a business model that facilitates the sharing of crop cultivation risk between farmers and investors.

Another intriguing finalist came in the form of an educational tool called ‘Seebox’. The invention is designed to help children explore the worlds of science and engineering outside of the classroom by toying about with electronic circuits.

“While the child playing this game he basically works up a record for himself,” Johann Pierre Kok, the developer, told Al Jazeera.

“If you’re a technology company and you want to know who to give a bursary to, you will go with that data not academic achievement so much because you want to capture the natural engineers, the little problem solvers.”

Image via Jeremy Wilburn / cc

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