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5 Great Invention Made in Africa

Updated on February 11, 2017

When the subject of technological innovations comes up, Africa is probably not one of the places that immediately pops into your mind. However, there plenty of technological innovations that are setting the pace in their various fields, making life easier for scores of people in urban and rural areas and also saving lives. Africa is slowly but surely catching up to the technological advancements of the western nations. The continent does not have a shortage of creative and aspiring minds as can be shown by the following inventions.


CAT Scan
Invented by a South African called Allan Cormack, this is a groundbreaking invention that is used widely in the medical field all around the world. He took interest in the problem of x-raying images of soft tissues when he took up a part-time position of of physicist for a hospital radiology department. He provided a mathematical technique that was used for scanning in the 1960s. In the CAT scan, an x-ray of source and electronic detectors are rotated around the body to enable the radiologist to get a sharp map of the cross-section (tissue slices) of the body.

While the idea was developed and commercialized in the United Kingdom, the South African along with Godfrey Hounsfield of EMI Laboratories were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1979.


M-Pesa
This mobile-phone based money transfer and microfinancing service that was developed for mobile operators Safaricom and Vodacom in Kenya and Tanzania, respectively, is truly a transformative innovation in finance. It's impact has been felt not only in the countries in which it operates (Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Afghanistan,India and Egypt), but also globally.


A man withdrawing money from an M-Pesa stall
A man withdrawing money from an M-Pesa stall

According to Forbes, an unbelievable 43% of Kenya's GDP flowed through M-Pesa in 2013. This is the scale of the impact that it has had in financial services and the economy. Its services that include money deposit and withdrawal, payment of bills and microcredit provision have become a commonplace in the lives of Kenya, and also its economy. Kenyans use the service to send money to others, buy goods in various shopping outlets, mobile banking and paying their electric and various subscription bills.
While the tale of who discovered the technological service is long, its origins can be traced to a student software development project from Kenya in 2007, which was then rolled out by Safaricom.


Charging Shoes
Another Kenyan, Anthony Mutua, is the inventor behind this ingenious way to charge mobile phones. The shoe is fitted with thin crystal chips at the sole, enabling electricity to be generated through the pressure exerted on the sole of the shoe by the person's weight while walking. The chips cost around $46. There is an extension cable that runs from the shoe to the phone in the pocket in which the current is carried.
You don't need to continue walking to generate energy as the shoes can continue to charge phones while static by releasing the stored energy. The project recently received $6,ooo by Kenya National Council of Science and Technology who also promised mass production to reach a bigger market.


Cybertracker
This invention by Lindsay Stevenson in 1996, uses a satellite navigation system to track insects, birds and animals. It also enables you to store information about different animals, like a species' overall population, their location, feeding habits and the number of males and females.
It is a very efficient way of collecting data using GPS and can be used with handheld devices such as a smartphone or computer to record observations made while out in the field. It also requires no programming skills and allows you to customize an application according to your data collection needs.


Cardiopad
This is a computer tablet that enables heart examinations to be conducted in remote, rural areas. It was developed by Cameroonian entrepreneur Mark Arthur Adzaba. The first touch screen medical tablet invented and made in Africa enables heart examinations such as electrocardiograms to be conducted in rural and remote areas, enabling many heart patients to receive prompt diagnosis that they would have otherwise not have been able to receive unless they lived in an urban center.

Cardiopad in use to do heart examinations
Cardiopad in use to do heart examinations

The process entails placing electrodes on the patient and connected to a module that connects to the tablet. The results of the medical examination conducted can be sent by the nurse's tablet to that of the doctor who then interprets them. This device is expected to facilitate diagnosis of patients in Cameroon and all across Africa.


Please Call Me
Most everyday users of mobile phone technology are oblivious to the fact that the Please Call Me Service was invented in Africa. The service allows users who have no airtime to send a Please Call Me text message to any number to notify the user that they would like to be called back.
Both Nkosana Makate, a former Vodacom employee and Ari Kahn have claimed the invention. The issue is still under investigation by a South African court.





Africa is ripe with creative minds with ambitions to not only make it big, but to also make an impact on the lives of other people of the continent and around the world. As a firm believer that technological solutions to tackle Africa's problems will come from Africa, the continent's future in the technological area is encouraging going by the brave steps taken by these pioneers.

01/16/2017

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