Kenya’s Illuminium Greenhouses has been named winner of the Ericsson Innovation award for sub-Saharan Africa for its smart greenhouse concept that uses sensors and mobile technology.

The team walks away with USD 10 000 and an entry into the Ericsson global Innovation Awards that takes place in early 2017.

According to Taita Ngetich, Co-founder of Illuminum Greenhouses: ”Our team is extremely proud to have won this award. It is a real boost to us and will enable the internet of things further penetrate and reach the base of pyramid farmers across the region. Water management is key to agriculture across sub-Saharan Africa and we are happy we can play a role in this by minimising wastage using solar-powered sensors”.

Illuminum Greenhouses have sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, soil moisture and most importantly regulate the water supply which is channeled through driplines and linked to the farmers mobile phone. They also self regulate the soil moisture by irrigating when necessary.

Data collected is pushed to a cloud system via SMS or GPRS and analyzed by the Illuminum Greenhouses team to provide predictive information on proper water management allowing farmers to save up to 60 percent of their water bills.

This year’s competition attracted 99 entries from thirteen countries across the region. The regional Ericsson Innovation Awards 2016 was an opportunity for start-ups and application developers to showcase solutions that will support the transformation of agriculture and food production across sub-Saharan Africa.

Aakaash Sehgal, Managing Director, Ericsson Kenya said: “We are once again proud as Ericsson to stimulate and reward ICT innovation in the region through the Ericsson Innovation Awards. It is also appropriate that the winning solution confronts the issue of water scarcity using cloud and mobile technology, cornerstones of Ericsson’s technology leadership.”

The judging panel had to pick a winning solution that could solve the problem in an innovative way, be sustainable and socially responsible as well as scalable. Despite the numerous exciting entries, Illuminum Greenhouses best met all of these criteria.

As devices and connectivity become increasingly ubiquitous, so do the opportunities for emerging technologies to resolve the challenges of agricultural production increase.  Solutions like this one demonstrate the potential of ICT to transform all sectors of the economy, in this case, it is agriculture.

Ericsson is one of the world’s largest ICT companies and its Innovation Awards for sub-Saharan Africa have provided a platform for regional innovation.