Africa Day, which is recognised every year on 25th May, is always a great opportunity to recognise and celebrate what’s great about this continent and its people, despite its many challenges.
One thing we do well is innovate and there are many examples of inventions from the continent that have changed the lives of not only its residents, but those of others across the globe too.
Here’s a look at three such innovations that have been developed by locals which are set to revolutionise their sectors.
Cameroon: Cardio Pad medical tablet
The Cardio Pad medical tablet was created by IT engineer Arthur Zang to help healthcare workers in rural Cameroon send the results of cardiac tests (via a mobile-phone connection) to doctors in nearby cities where most of the country’s heart specialists are based.
The tablet, which looks much like an ordinary mobile tablet, is made up of four wireless electrodes and a sensor that are attached to a patient and transmit signals via Bluetooth to the Cardio Pad. The kit then takes a digitised electrocardiogram (ECG) reading of the patient’s heart function which is then transmitted to a national data centre. Once the ECG is received, a cardiologist makes a diagnosis and sends information back to the centre, along with prescription instructions.
South Africa: Kusini Water
Scientrepreneur, Murendeni Mafumo, is the brains behind the Kusini Water solution. It is a low cost water purification system that uses a membrane which takes rainwater or ground water and, using a process of osmosis, clean it and make it suitable for consumption.
The system’s main ingredient is something very unconventional – crushed macadamia nuts. The nuts are used for the activated carbon filter which removes bad tastes and smells, before the water is pushed on to the nanotech membrane, which is currently being tested in pilot programmes including coffee shops which are using it to purify rainwater for drinking, a shopping mall which recycles waste water for irrigation and car washing and a low cost desalination plant in Namibia.
The pumps that push water through the membrane are solar powered.
DRC: Humanoid Robots
In the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital city, Kinshasa, traffic (like in many African cities) is a problem. While most cities use traffic officers or pointsmen to direct flow, robots are slowly taking over in the west African country.
In 2014, engineer and inventor, Isaie Thérèse launched eight-foot-tall solar-powered Humanoid Robots to help ease the congestion.
Thérèse, founder of a women’s technology cooperative, built the humanoid robots with the help of a group of local engineers at a cost of about R150 000.
Four cameras in each robot allow them to view and control traffic. This way, road offenders can’t escape the eye of the humanoids, as footage is sent to a central computer and tickets are issued when drivers and pedestrians do anything illegal.