I just read this article about the LifeWrap.
Among others it tells the story of Aisha, a young woman in Kano who suffered postpartum haemorrhage and went into shock after she gave birth in her home near Kano State. The mother of nine would have died but for the LifeWrap used on her at the hospital she was rushed to.
Developed by Suellen Miller, a nurse-midwife and professor in the obstetrics and gynaecology department at the University of California, San Francisco, the LifeWrap is a non-pneumatic anti-shock garment that acts as a first-aid device to stabilize new mothers at risk of death. The technology keeps women alive while they travel to a hospital for surgery or await treatment.
With an almost immediate effect on the patient, the LifeWrap is no doubt, an affordable — about $45 — and easy-to-use lifesaving first aid for mothers in developing countries.
Read more how innovation can save lives in Africa.
A while back I did a blogpost on the Poverty Hackathon that took place from the 20th to the 22nd of November in Kenya and in Canada. The project brings together developers from Kenya and Canada to come up with new applications within 28 hours to solve social issues such as education or business in developing countries. I find this to be a great concept since it connects innovators from two completely different parts of the world. I’ve just checked back on their website to see whether there’s an update on what the developers came up with.
It turns out that amazing ideas were created during those 28 hours. Apparently, the developpers from Canada and Kenya formed cross-continental teams to come up with the greatest, most efficient solutions.
Among the top generated ideas are Agricate, an app that sends customized and timely best practices for growing Maize to farmers, or TrashBOT, an application that provides tutorials for children on how robotics work. There’s many more though.
I’m curious about the future of these projects. Let’s hope that they will receive sufficient funding and that there will be a follow-up hackathon sometime in the future. I will keep you posted.
I’d like to dedicate this post to an article I’ve recently read on the so called Fábrica de Sabão, an innovation hub that has been established in Angola by innovation afficionados. Fábrica de Sabão is located in an old soap factory in the Angolan slum. I first learned about the idea behind the hub from an article that was published on the website of Jean Claude Bastos de Morais, founder of the Fábrica de Sabão. According to the article, the soap factory will “act as an ecosystem to foster innovation and entrepreneurship amongst Angolans.”
The reason I became interested in writing a blogpost on the article is, because I find this to be an interesting innovative concept on the micro-level. As you know, I usually address innovation at a macro level or in the context of social or corruption related forces. However, I’d also like to discuss specific innovation concepts in and about the African continent, which is why I am always keen on finding interesting articles like the one I’m writing about now.
So, what are the goals the founders of Fábrica de Sabão are hoping to achieve?
The factory seems to somewhat serve as an innovators melting-pot where business developers, craftsmen and urban creatives can come together, use synergies and bring innovation forward. In the words of the author:
“Fábrica de Sabão will bring together key influencers from around the world to share knowledge, harness creative ideas into tangible outcomes and help launch sustainable businesses. It will also be a place for locals to create art, music and crafts in an environment led principally by innovation.” (Source: jeanclaudebastosdemorais.com)
As the author points out, it is no coincidence that a location in the middle of Luanda’s slum has been chosen. The aim is to help the innovative people who haven’t been able to take part in the formal economy so far whilst preserving their creative and unconventional spirit. My biggest question however is how they can get the local population’s support. We will see how it works.
What is there left to say? Some of my earliest readers might remember my first post pointing out all the ways in which I was wrong about the African continent before I first went there and saw it’s innovative potential with my own eyes. Reading the article about the incubator hubs made me smile a little and think back on when I first launched the blog. In my opinion, the idea behind the innovation hubs is a perfectly fitting example for undermining what I said in my first post: There is so much creative potential in Africa. It’s great to see entrepreneurs doing everything that is in their power to channel this potential.
African innovators are facing numerous challenges when it comes to lack of infrastructure, government regulations and so on. Nevertheless, the continent is boosting with new, exciting innovations. Just in time for the start of the new year, venturesafrica lists the top-innovations recently made in Africa.
The first innovation is a multipurpose tractor from Uganda. It was created at the Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. The innovative machine has a lot more functionalities to offer from what tractors usually do. As venturesafrica states: “The tractor can pump water from depths of up to seven metres to a radius of 33 metres, it can thresh half a ton of maize in an eight-hour shift and its wheelbase allows it to carry up to two tons of produce. The MV Mulimi comes with a three-disc plough, which will save farmers time and stress as the tractor’s plough is faster and easier to use.” (Source: Venturesafrica.com)
Another fascinating innovation is a mobile security software created in Malawi. Whenever the security of it’s users homes is at stake, the software automatically sends a text message. The mesage will also be sent in case of fire.
The third innovation is a drone technology developped in Tanzania. It was designed for farmers to monitor their crops, thus increasing time efficiancy in the agricultural sector.
A fourth innovation is a mobile banking application designed in Malawi. The app facilitates mobile phone transactions.
As one can see, there seems to be an increasing trend towards highly creative technological innovations that facilitate people’s daily lives. Especially in the agricultural sector, new technological advances prove useful to increase efficiency. However, the question remains of whether the average citizen will be able to afford such new technologies. After all, technology designed to improve people’s daily lives needs to come at a reasonable price.