Unleashing the power of innovation in Africa will help create an important platform for widespread sustainable development across the continent. It stems from the need to find immediate, sustainable solutions for critical problems the continent has been facing. Thus it’s not surprising that all over Africa, groundbreaking innovations are created that are changing the world. We have highlighted five of them for you.
Biomedical smart jacket
According to UNICEF, pneumonia kills half a million children under five each year in sub-Saharan Africa. A main contributing factor is a slow diagnosis. Ugandan inventor Brian Turabagye has created a biomedical smart jacket that can diagnose the condition four times faster than a doctor and it’s also more accurate. Its sensors pick up sound patterns from the lungs, temperature and breathing rate and within four minutes, the data is computed and sent to a mobile phone application which then gives a diagnosis. The device is called MamaOpe, which means “mother’s hope”
3D Printers from E-Waste
Each year, the electronics industry generates up to 41 million tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste). It is an ever-growing problem in Africa, where certain countries have become dumping grounds for electronics from Europe and North America. To combat this worsening trend, WoeLab is stepping up its recycling efforts on the continent. Members of the Tanzanian community technology hub joined together to create Africa’s first-ever 3D printer from e-waste, utilising discarded electronic parts to help advance the technology of the impoverished region. In a country where about 60% of the inhabitants live in poverty, offering access to emerging and self-sustainable technologies is a viable way to improve their livelihood.
M-Pesa is a phone-based money transfer system based in Kenya as a way to manage microloans. Now it is used for all sorts of transactions and is spreading not only through Africa but also to Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, India and beyond. M-Pesa processed 6 billion transactions for 30 million users worldwide.
Hearing loss appears to be more common in sub- Saharan Africa than in richer parts of the world. The WHO estimates suggest that the prevalence of hearing impairment (defined as Hearing loss >35 dB) for adults aged >15 years old was 15.7% in sub-Saharan Africa vs. 4.9% in high-income countries. Deaftronics, a Botswana-based startup has created the first solar-powered hearing aid battery charger. With this innovation, people who experience hearing loss can comfortably and conveniently recharge their hearing aid. The impact of Deaftronics has been very impressive. It has allowed 3 000 hearing-impaired children to attend school. The startup was founded in Botswana by Tendekayi Katsiga in 2015.
Zola Electric-Off-Grid Solar Power
More than 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity; 71 million in Kenya and Tanzania alone. Without any other options, citizens are forced to either go without power. Now, with the aid of new mobile and solar technology, access to basic electricity is becoming a reality for many rural African communities. Zola Electric is one company providing pay-as-you-go solar power to customers in Africa. The company leases systems that include solar panels, batteries, lights, mobile phone chargers and televisions with users able to make payments with mobile phones.
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