Bright Tetteh Kwao (left; Falling Walls Lab Ghana 2021 Winner), Mr. Cleanse Tsonam Akpeloo (right; Falling Walls Lab Ghana 2021 Jury Chair)

My name is Bright Tetteh Kwao and I am 27 years of age. I graduated from the University of Cape Coast with a degree in BSc Engineering Physics in the year 2018. I did my national service in 2019 with the Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School Legon (Accra) and currently working as the Technical Officer for AIScarecrow Technologies.

 

AIScarecrow device

Tell us about your winning Innovation from the Falling Walls Lab Ghana 2021
A colleague of mine’s attention was drawn to the problem faced by rice farmers in his village when he visited a relative. He noticed how farmers were spending long hours in the sun trying to get rid of pest birds and saw how frustrating it was for the farmers. After his return we discussed extensively about his experience and decided to seek further information by way of market research, talking to some small holder farmers, visiting the Ministry of Agriculture as well as other stakeholders in the industry. After several days of brainstorming and many alterations to our idea we came up with our AIScarecrow model.

 

Bright (middle) with his team members at a workshop.

Are you working alone or with a team?
We are a team of five having our various expertise complimenting one another in a very dynamic manner. The team consist of an agriculturalist as our CEO, a computer scientist as our COO, an accountant as our CFO, a communication lead and myself as the technical lead.

 

Bright on a farm.

How do you see the innovation/start up scene in Ghana?
I think it is growing rapidly compared to previous years, more and more incubators and programmes are now helping to groom and support new start-ups.

 

What should the government do to encourage innovation in Ghana?
Firstly, they should effectively implement all the policies they have already developed. Secondly, innovation curricula should be intensified in the secondary and tertiary institutions in the country. And finally, raw materials and components which have to be imported by upcoming innovators should be subsidised. At the same time the government needs to work on attracting investors to establish such industries so that semi-conductor devices, components etc. can be produced for a cheaper price right here in Ghana.

 

Do you see your innovation/device being competitive in Africa and/or the world at large?
Absolutely. Pest birds adversely affect cereal farms throughout Africa (Nigeria, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya etc) which leads to about $80 million in losses annually. Authorities in Queensland (Australia) are currently estimating about $200 million loss of revenue if the Quelea birds move towards the Australia continent due to climate change. With my solution saving yield and protecting birds simultaneously, both farmers and environmentalist will love it.

 

What advice would you give to upcoming engineers with ideas that they are yet to materialize?
Whatever you are doing, do it fast, fail fast and try it again by going back to the drawing board until you get it right. In the words of Nelson Mandela: “It is said to be impossible until it is done.”