Saturday, July 13, 2024

Norah Magero: Meet the first Female Kenyan Engineer to win prestigious Engineering Award

Norah Magero is a Mechanical Engineer and a Renewable Energy Consultant with experience in the design and management of off-grid energy utilities. She is the co-founder of the Cool Green Campaign, an initiative to mentor high school students on renewable energy.

She also co-founded Drop Access, a non-profit that has redefined energy access in rural by championing for productive use of energy through innovation and financing. She is passionate about energy access in Africa and gender issues.

Norah recently made history by becoming the first Kenyan to win the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.

Co-Op post

Background & Education

According to her LinkedIn profile, Norah attended St Annes Mumias girls and Lugulu Girls High School before proceeding to the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) where he pursued a Diploma in Information Technology between 2008 and 2011.

She also holds a degree in Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Nairobi.

NCBA

In 2019, she attended Micro-Grid Academy where she undertook an East African Regional Training Course on Mini-Grids, from Design to Integration of Productive Uses through the Water-Energy-Food Nexus.

In 2020, she attended the Project Development Programme (PDP) of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). She also attended the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) where she trained in the Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme, Entrepreneurial Studies.

Career

NCBA

Norah began her career as a graduate trainee with Atlas Plumbers and Builders between June 2012 and September 2012.

Norah Magero

She later proceeded to work for Portland Cement between July 2013 and August 2013. That year, she also worked for Alco East Africa as a researcher, data analyst, and editor.

Norah joined Davis & Shirtliff in January 2015 and worked as a Sales Engineer Intern until March that year. She designed specifications of water pumps, water treatment systems and solar equipment.

She also sold pumps, water purifiers and solar equipment. She then proceeded to the Energy Regulatory Commission, Kenya where she worked as an apprentice until August 2015.

She then proceeded to African Solar Designs Ltd where she worked as a projects officer until February 2016. From August 2016 to January 2018, Norah worked part-time as a Project Manager and Engineer for Starehe Girls’​ School ZFEP Project. She managed and launched the Starehe Energy Project, funded by Zayed Sustainability Prize 2017.

Between January 2017 to June 2018, she was the energy manager at Mulatya Memorial Hospital in Makueni County. She was later appointed the Quality Assurance Team Lead, a role she held until December that year.

In 2020 she freelanced for the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance where she was a member of the Working Group for the Rural Prosperity Bond. The Rural Prosperity Bond (RPB) provides loans to SMEs working in land restoration in Africa, South Asia and Latin America.

Norah also worked briefly for Impact Nexus in 2020 as a Water-Energy-Food Nexus Expert. She was an advisory on the implementation of a demonstration farm to train women and youth on conservative and sustainable agriculture.

She co-founded Drop Access in January 2018 and has served as the company’s CEO to date. She and her partner were working towards transforming communities in rural Kenya by focusing on the global Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on Renewable Energy and Climate Change.

Drop Access develops sustainable rural communities by provising access and financing for the productive use of energy.

Drop Access

Norah has played a major role in the vaccination of Kenyans during the Covid-19 pandemic after her company designed the solar-powered VacciBox to keep vaccines chilled and reach remote parts of the country.

She had initially developed the box when she was approached by farmers who wanted to keep their milk at low temperatures and prevent it from going sour, but when the pandemic struck, the company realized that they could use the box for more. Investors such as RES4Africa Foundation and Startup Energy were part of realizing the idea.

The VacciBox is small enough to be transported by bicycle or motorbike to whichever part of the country, especially remote areas where there is no power grid. The 50-liter boxes carried over 7 vials of vaccines all while maintaining them at the required temperatures.

The VacciBox can transport vaccines in two temperature ranges, between 2 C to 8 C for the AstraZeneca jab and down to minus 20 C for mRNA vaccines. It has a USB port for mobile phones.

Vacci Box

Awards

Norah Magero made history by becoming the first Kenyan and only the second woman to win the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. As a result, she was awarded £25,000 (approximately Ksh3.6 million) at the virtual awards ceremony held on June 15, 2022.

She was among the four finalists that gave their presentations before the judges and live audience, after which they voted for the most promising innovation.

“We’re delighted to award VacciBox the Africa Prize. The potential impact of improving the cold chain delivery of medicine – especially vaccines – to rural areas is immense.”

“Norah truly represents the idea that one innovator can change an entire community. We look forward to watching her and her team scale this innovation to reach even more people,”

Africa Prize judge Alessandra Buonfino said while announcing her as the winner.

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation was founded by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014 and is dedicated to identifying successful engineering talents and entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa.

She is also a Booking.Com Technology Playmaker Award 2020 finalist and Women in Energy East Africa Community, Philanthropy Award winner 2017.

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