The story about Gongali Model Co. Ltd originates from a boy called Askwar Hilonga from a humble beginning in a village called Gongali, Karatu district in Arusha, Tanzania back in 1976. In the course of self-determination, finally Hilonga made it up to a PhD in Chemical Engineering at Hanyang University - South Korea (2010).   Since February 2011 Hilonga joined the Faculty team at Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), a public University in Arusha Tanzania with a mandate to serve the SSA that envisions generating solutions to challenges which confronts the Society and Industry. The research and innovation activities at the NM-AIST are carried at Masters and PhD level in Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation (SETI) across Sub Saharan Africa. Recently Hilonga was promoted to a Professor after numerous achievements in terms of research and life changing innovative solutions to his community.  Hilongawas eager to utilize immense resources at the NM-AIST to embrace the “motto"of “Academia for Society and Industry” immediately after joining the faculty. He started looking at a challenge of waterborne diseases from which his community and of course many of Africancountries suffer.

After my studies I started questioning my ethical  “what does my PhD mean to my community in Tanzania”?  Thereafter I came up with a Low Cost Nano Filter that uses nano technology to purify drinking water.  I chose to address the challenge of waterborne diseases since it was one of the most confronting challenges to my community as many people suffer from cholera, typhoid, fluoride and many others. Prof. Hilonga explained.

 Hilonga’s star started beaming up in 2015 when he won an award of the Most Talented Young African Entrepreneur of the Royal Academy of Engineering. This opened up many more doors for his innovation including a winner of Pitch@Palace Africa, Pitch@Palace Global, Sponsored bythe British Royal Academy of Engineering, the HDIF, Ministry of Health Community development, Gender, Elderly and Children of Tanzania, and WHO Health Prize called The United Arab Emirates Health Foundation Prize 2019, As arecognition for his innovation of a “Low-Cost drinking Water Filter branded as Nanofilter® 

The 10 years celebrations event was officiated by the Regional Commissioner for Arusha, Hon. Iddi Hassan Kimanta, who was very much impressed by the ground breaking innovations put out by Prof. Hilonga including heavy-duty Water filters for secondary schools and hospitals, household water stations and other public stations that allows access to safe water at all levels in the community. He promised to find a way on how the stations could be distributed to secondary schools in Arusha in order to rescue school going children from water borne diseases. The event featured an official launch of Future STEM Business Leaders programme which is run by COSTED under the organization of University of Dar Es Salam sponsored by the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and was presented by Dr. Salha Mohamed Kassim on behalf of the Director-general of Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology COSTECH. Prof. Amos Nungu. 15 secondary schools in Arusha will benefit from the programme as part of project pilot study in the region.

Talking to the participants, The Vice Chancellor of the NM-AIST Prof. Emmanuel J. Luoga, expressed his heartiest congratulations to Prof. Hilonga for his enthusiasm to live the motto of the NM-AIST, he added that, the NM-AIST goal is powered by the late Nelson Mandela who wished to see Africa producing their own scientists and engineers who would research to find out solutions to the challenges of their communities. It has been a culture of the NM-AIST to work hard in order to live Nelson Mandela’s Legacy and through that many innovations are being molded, the plan is to have thousands of innovators like Hilonga and even more.

Professor Hilonga is one among many innovators at our University, we train Masters and PhD in SETI level only and every student must come up with an innovative research designed to solve a particular challenge. We have been doing that and of recently we have initiated an innovation centre through which our students and faculties are being incubated in order to ensure that faculties and students with promising solutions meets with business captains for mentoring and up scaling up their prototypes for commercialization purposes. Said Prof. Emmanuel Luoga. Prof. Luoga was accompanied by Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof. Charles Lugomela, Dean of the School of Materials, Energy, Water and Environmental Sciences, Prof. Levocatus Machunda and other members of the NM-AIST community. 

The celebrations included presentation of a 10 years Impact Report that enumerated a number of achievements including serving more than 300,000 people with safe and clean drinking water in 10 regions of Tanzania and more branches in Kenya and Zambia. An inspiring and empowering Centre that grooms youngsters in entrepreneurship from various universities, colleges and R&D institutions. Finally through a virtual speech, Ms. Veronique Bourbeau, the ultra-endurance athlete had a word to address Africa and the world as she prepares to begin her Nanofilter enabled, record-breaking trans-African run from Egypt (Alexandria) to South Africa through which she will be spreading the good news about African own innovation called nonfilter for Africans and this is one of the strategies to reach 5Million people served by Nano filter by 2022.