LONDON — The United Kingdom’s Royal Academy of Engineering has awarded the first Africa Prize for Engineering to Dr. Askwar Hilonga for his specialized water filtration system, according to a press release.

Hilonga, a Tanzanian chemical engineer, earned £25,000 (US$38,231.50) for his sand-based water filter, noted the release. It cleans contaminated water using nanotechnology.

Each nanofilter absorbs contaminants from specific bodies of water, explained the release. The contaminants could be heavy metals and minerals, biological impurities like bacteria and viruses, or pesticides.

Launched in 2014, the African Prize “encourages talented sub-Saharan African engineers from all disciplines to develop solutions to local challenges, and to develop them into businesses,” shared the release. Hilonga earned the honor after several stages of competition against entrants from 15 African nations.

“We are proud to have Tanzania’s Dr Askwar Hilonga as our first Africa Prize winner,” said head judge Malcolm Brinded, CBE, FREng, in the release. “His innovation could change the lives of many Africans, and people all over the world. He has successfully incorporated the training and mentoring from the last six months into his business plan, and shows great promise.”

Hilonga’s device will be commercialized within a year, reported the release. His work has been published in 33 academic publications.

Click here to read the entire release.