The festive season is over and 2017 has begin with a bang! (Happy New Year everyone!) The cold has set in across the USA and Europe but Africa is hot, but not just because of the sun, but also because of anticipation of further innovations! 2016 was a great year for African Innovation. The wealth of technology and tangible ideas coming out of the continent last year leaves us with great optimism for 2017. We expect advancement in many sectors in Africa this year.
Solar power will continue to cause an energy revolution, with the price of solar continuing to reduce and of grid solutions also more available, enabling rural areas to utilise electricity further. One solution that is already gaining momentum has been created by SteamaCo. It was recently featured on the BBC as one of the five African Inventions to watch in 2017. They install micro grids in a rural communities and with their software they are able to identify the customers and when they are using electricity and usage rates, all within a cloud based system. This means that they are able to cut electricity to households that do not need it if, for example, a hospital is in need of extra supply during the night, when solar power is not functioning. Of course, being in Kenya, they also utilise M-Pesa cashless services, enabling people to easily pay for their power when they need it.
Like with many innovations in Africa, a small change can make an enormous different. We have written before about how electricity can enable people to keep up to date with what is going on locally with their mobile phones, or help children study after dark without the dangers of using a candle. Having an off grid local grid, enables new businesses to pop up. SteamaCo have reported that in one village there are now new barbers shops, places to watch movies and even bars can now sell cold beer! Electricity creates employment and helps build local economies.
Another area we expect great development is health technology. Mobile phones are getting more and more powerful, and wearable tech is continuing to become more and more complex and able to give detailed data, and this will enable greater support to be given to people that usually access it. The BBC article mentions two health tech solutions, from Africa, that are set to make a huge difference.
The Cardio Pad, invented in Cameroon, tackles the issue of lack of cardiologists in the country. It allows rural health care workers to use a tablet to complete a full heart examination and then send the information directly to a specialist. Like the eye exam tech we discussed last year, this enable on call specialist to use their time effectively to offer the best care possible to patients across the country. It works on a subscription based system, where the CardioPads are given to health centres, and patients pay a yearly subscription service of $29 in order to have regular check ups.
Agriculture, mobile money and Fintech, other sources of renewable energy, transportation, and E-commerce will all also see revolutionary solutions in Africa this year, much to the thanks of the increasing amounts of Technology hubs that are gaining traction across the continent. Kenya and Rwanda are leading the way, and that is clear from the amount of exciting solutions that are becoming world firsts (such as the drones) and world leaders (such as Ushashidi)
Also important to innovative development in Africa are the many prizes and competitions across the continent. Last year we featured a few awards, which continue to become bigger and more prestigious every year. We are excited to see the next nominations for the Innovation Prize for Africa, which has been rewarding African innovation for the last 4 years, and we are also keen to see what apps the Apps Africa award brings us in 2017. We will also be keeping our eyes open for any other prizes which reward innovative brilliance across Africa.
Stick with Inventive Africa through 2017 to see all the newest tech and innovation from Africa. Please get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica or email, and please also share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook