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Abdul Sesay of African Leadership University

16 April 2024 at 19:35 | 2057 views

Sierra Leonean African Leadership University student pioneers AI-powered robotic solution to drive environmental compliance as world leaders assess progress toward achieving SDGs

As world leaders gear up for UN Sustainability Week, one young Sierra Leonean entrepreneur at African Leadership University has developed a cutting-edge solution for promoting environmental compliance, and advancing global progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

African Leadership University (ALU) student Abdul Karim Sesay – who has created an innovative solution harnessing sensor technologies, robotics, and data-driven analytics to promote environmental compliance – has called on policymakers attending the United Nations’ Sustainability Week to support ventures that build climate resilience among vulnerable communities in Africa.

UNGA Sustainability Week, which convenes from 15-19 April, will take stock of the world’s progress in achieving the SDG agenda by 2030. Taking centre stage in discussions will be Sustainable Development Goal 13: taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Sierra Leone is among the top 10% of countries most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, which are driving unpredictable weather patterns, severe flooding, and food insecurity. Despite the passing of Sierra Leone’s Environmental Protection Agency Act in 2022, further efforts are needed to implement environmental governance within local communities.

Looking to promote public environmental accountability, Abdul created the ‘Altruistech Environmental Compliance Gauge’: a robotic car comprising data collection sensors, which include noise pollution monitors, carbon sensors, and waste management trackers. The data collected is then analysed within a cloud system, which calculates an organisation’s environmental compliance level across factors such as solid waste generation, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and noise pollution. The levels are then translated into colour profiles using beaming light technology. The gauge has so far enabled seven oil, gas, and mining companies as well as educational institutions in Ghana, Kenya, and Rwanda to collect real-time data on their environmental impact, and address issues of non-compliance with safety policies.

ALU student and Altruistech co-founder Abdul Karim Sesay said:

“My time at ALU has taught me that it is our responsibility as the next generation of African leaders to drive socioeconomic development. Drawing on my deep commitment to promoting climate justice, and the skills, experience, and support I have gained at ALU in designing innovative climate technologies, I created this solution to help organisations reduce their environmental footprint and enhance ecological conservation.

“Promoting sustainable development is key to holding individuals and organisations accountable for their impact on the environment. By supporting young innovators such as myself, who are bursting with energy and vibrant ideas, world leaders can advance global goals in promoting climate resilience among vulnerable communities in Africa.”

Abdul developed Altruistech during his time as a Global Challenges student at ALU. ALU, which has a state-of-the-art campus in Kigali, Rwanda, and a college in Pamplemousses, Mauritius, is helping train Africa’s leaders and visionaries of tomorrow, through a mix of mission-led study and work experience. It aims to develop 3 million ethical and entrepreneurial African leaders by 2035. So far, more than a quarter of their alumni have started 140 unique ventures, created more than 44,000 jobs, and raised almost US$6 million.

Veda Sunassee, CEO at ALU, said:

“Abdul embodies the essence of innovation capital. His journey with Altruistech is a combination of knowledge, creative problem-solving skills and forward-thinking mindset instilled in ALU students. At ALU, we nurture not only academic excellence but also the innovative spirit that propels our students towards impactful change. We are proud of Abdul’s innovation and look forward to supporting his journey with Altruistech. Africa’s youth is characterized by relentless progress and boundless potential. It’s imperative for the world not only to acknowledge this reality but also to actively support and nurture it.”

The robot is just one of the solutions that Abdul and his fellow co-founders have launched under their venture, Altruistech Innovations, which focuses on addressing each of the 17 SDGs, one project at a time. They have also created ‘Altruis-Health’, a mobile application that provides adequate access to mental health services in Africa by connecting mental health patients to certified mental health professionals across the continent for affordable mental health care.

Their ‘Altruistech Clean Water Innovation’ leverages IoT to detect particles in water and, using artificial intelligence, checks their level of safety, thereby promoting access to clean water and sanitation in rural communities in Sierra Leone. So far, it has been successfully implemented in two communities.

Additionally, they have launched the ‘Atruistech & Creativity Hub’ in Sierra Leone, making space aimed at boosting digital literacy, fostering S.T.E.M. education, instilling confidence, expanding knowledge, shaping positive mindsets, encouraging effective learning habits, and motivating youth to embrace scientific and critical thinking. This hub focuses on IoT engineering experiments aimed at addressing climate change, environmental safety, clean water access, agriculture, and food security challenges. The initiative is geared towards empowering youth to become innovators and champions of sustainable development in Sierra Leone.

Around sixty young people so far have benefited from the Creativity Hub, and they will be launching the Altruistech STEM Innovation & Design Thinking Competition For High School Students in Sierra Leone through their partnership with the National Commission For Children – Sierra Leone.

Abdul has received global recognition for his cutting-edge solutions, being named as one of the Top 30 innovators in Sierra Leone by the Orange Social Venture Prize 2022, an Under 40 Africa Green Award nominee, and selected as one of 40 individuals from 12 African countries to participate in the Triggering Exponential Climate Action programme. Supported by FSD Africa and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the programme aims to empower the next generation of climate entrepreneurs. Altruistech Innovations has also won the global Fish Bowl Challenge and a share of $50,000 to scale their venture.

Notes to editors

ALU provides higher education for a higher purpose. Our students develop real-world skills to take on the world’s most pressing challenges. And they take ownership of their learning from day one through our peer and student-led approach – because ALU believes in the power and agency of young people to start shaping the future right now. Together with a world-class faculty and staff, our students are igniting a ripple of positive impact across Africa and the world. Join us: www.alueducation.anger to inspiring climate act founder building the robot thatCompetition in Singapore