Did You Know IPA rewarded its winners with $150,000!

Did You Know IPA rewarded its winners with $150,000!

The Innovation Prize for Africa has once again inspired a continent. After various events promoting innovation and creativity, the final ceremony took place on Tuesday 18th July, in Accra. We have been waiting with anticipation to find out who the winners of this years IPA addition would be, but the excitement comes from the huge variety of innovations that made it into the shortlisted 10. The health sector, agriculture, drones, innovative software and the energy sector were all represented in the top ten, showing that the continent is equipped to come up with solutions for Africa as well as the rest of the world.

In this blog we will discuss the winners and give a little analysis. If you want to read more about the other nominees, check out our three other blogs.

IPA2017 Part 1

IPA2017 Part 2

IPA2017 Part 3

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IPA winners with African Innovation Foundation founder Jean Claude Bastos de Morais

This years winner, and receiver of $100,000, was Prof. El-Shafei, who we had not mentioned in our previous blogs. (We had a feeling he may win, so held back for his potential glorious moment!) His innovation is maybe not as ‘sexy’ as some of the others, but it will make an enormous difference to production of energy in Africa and the rest of the world. He has created a smart bearing which changes its characteristics as it operates. According to the IPA website, the bearing “consists of a magnetic bearing Continue reading “Did You Know IPA rewarded its winners with $150,000!”

Did You Know you can speak to tech with you local African dialect? (Part 3)

Did You Know you can speak to tech with you local African dialect? (Part 3)

The Innovation Prize for Africa is renowned for shortlisting exciting innovations that create African solutions for African problems. Due to the amount of incredible innovations announced this year, for the Ghana edition of the IPA, it was not possible to fit all of them into 1 or even 2 blogs! So this is the third part of IPA 2017 blog!

The IPA not only showcases innovative startups from around the world. It also gives a chance for the country it is based in, in this case Ghana, to promote and encourage innovation. Ghana is a country that is pushing innovation. Lots of tech hubs and incubators are popping up around the country, such as iSpace that we have mentioned various times (There are some more videos to come of their entrepreneurs). IPA will offer many of these innovators a platform to showcase their projects to international media, as well as receive coaching on how to progress.

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IPA in Ghana

If you want to read about some of the short listed innovations check out Part One and Part Two of this blog. If you have already seen them, keep reading to find out about the other innovations.

 Lakheni

Lakheni buys into the success of the collective model (which we wrote about some examples here. When people can pool their money together to bulk buy products, Lakheni found that households are able to save up to 20% on their groceries. Poor communities often pay more, relatively, than more affluent communities, as the goods are often packaged in to smaller sizes to make the more affordable (but more expensive per amount) So, if households, church members, friends, family, or any group gets together, substantial savings can be made.

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Once a group has signed up they can then make their order. Each month, a hamper will arrive to a designated destination where it can be picked up and distributed. Not only does this service save individuals money, on groceries, but they save time and money by not having to go to the store and having their groceries delivered to a convenient central location.

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Lakheni Hamper

Collectives are being utilised across the continent, but in some cases not efficiently. Many people come together to pool their money together in unions, but instead of use it for something useful, like developing their farms, sourcing internet access, or to bulk buy food produce, it is used for funeral arrangements. There need to priorities, and Lakheni is enabling that.

3.  Voice Recognition and Speech Synthesis Software for African Languages by Omolabake Adenle

I am really excited about this technology for many reasons. Across the continent, many people still communicate in their local dialects. These dialects can be like time capsules, with links to the long ago caught up in everyday conversation. For a researcher like me, going and interviewing individuals about the past was challenging, and the language barrier heightened the challenges.

With this software, which can understand and digitise local dialects, it would have been far easier to capture the the oral histories of my interviewees. Whilst this technology already exists for many Western and Asian languages, African languages have lagged behind. With the exponential spread of mobile technology and internet access, there is now the commercial possibility to use this technology in Africa.

It is not only useful for my plea for everyone to go out and interview their elders about the past. (Please do so, or we will lose so much oral history to the ancestors) With this tech, now people can interact with mobile phones and other digital applications, enabling those that do not speak English, French, Portuguese, etc etc, to interact and be part of the digital economy.

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Innovations come in all shapes and sizes, all of which are important. In the case of the 10 short listed by they are excellent and destined for success and making a big difference in Africa and beyond. Being innovative, and developing ones ideas is important for another reason. I have met a lot of people and spoken about their innovations. Many of them may not succeed at this juncture, but, they will have learnt a lot about being an entrepreneur and about the creative process. Being creative takes practice, and I hope the IPA and all of Inventive Africa inspires people across access to give their ideas a chance!

If you know of an innovation that is changing lives, or you want to be a guest blogger get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica or via email, and please share the blog with your network on Twitter and FacebookAlso, we have a new Facebook page! Please like it, and carry on the dialogue about African Innovation there!

 

Did You Know IPA rewards diverse innovations in Africa (Part 2)

Did You Know IPA rewards diverse innovations in Africa (Part 2)

Last week, the Innovation Prize for Africa announced their nominees for this years event, which will take place in Accra, Ghana in July. Over the last 5 years, the IPA has become one of the most anticipated innovation events in Africa. Over the years they have handed out around $1 million to incredible innovations and startups throughout the African continent.

The IPA was created 5 years ago by the African Innovation Foundation, who are based in Switzerland and aim to “increase the prosperity of Africans by catalysing the innovation spirit in Africa. We want to see needs-based innovation and change happen.” AIF also support various other projects across Africa, including the African Law Library, which we covered in Inventive Africa.

In our last blog, we featured 3 of the nominees from the IPA. This years nominees are so diverse, exciting and inspirational that it was not possible to cover them all in one blog. This year, 4 of the nominees were in the health sector. Health innovations have features widely on Inventive Africa and have covered anything from mobile phones used in eye care, to CT scanners. Here are our thoughts on a few more of the nominees and their innovations from the health category.

Rapid Detection of Many Infections Using Only One Test

Getting sicknesses diagnosed in Africa can be time consuming and frustrating. I have sat for many an hour in hospital waiting for results to come through. Sometimes they come back as negative and then, the process starts again to diagnose the illness. I have heard horror stories of children being medicine for a headache, rather than malaria after being wrongly diagnosed.

This new technology, developed by Dougbeh-Chris Nyan in Liberia, enables doctors to make a diagnosis on many infections at the same time within 40 minutes. This technology not only cuts down on waiting times, it also ensures that even when the diagnostics systems and expertise are limited, patients can get a reliable diagnosis, and there for be treated correctly. It is simple to use and can be deployed anywhere, so it is perfect for remote rural areas.

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This test could have made a huge difference during the ebola epidemic

In the example above, where the young lad was misdiagnosed purely on his symptoms, this technology can diagnose between infections that have similar symptoms such as malaria, ebola, and yellow fever. In the case of these dangerous highly infectious diseases, the short turn around time in diagnosis will significantly cut the risk of an infection spreading down.

Sweat TB Test 

In 2015 there were 2.7 million cases of TB in Africa, 750,000 of whom died from the infectious disease. TB, which effects the lungs, is particularly difficult for those who suffer from HIV. It is estimated that over 3 million incidents of TB are missed due to misdiagnosis and other cases being missed altogether. In order to diagnose TB, patients must often go to a clinic on various occasions, giving a sample of sputum, for high tech diagnosis. That is only the lucky patients, as many rural regions of Africa do not have the facilities to test for TB.

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The Sweat TB test makes the process a lot quicker, and without the need for a needle or any invasiveness. The test “leverages a TB specific marker in the sweat of patients, to produce a point- of- care test to detect TB”. Like so many innovations in the health sector in Africa at the moment, this gives the chance for patients, no matter how remote or rural to have a test for TB and get the results, and medicine within the same short visit to the clinic. This could revolutionise TB care in Africa and all across the world.

Dr. CADx

As we have pointed out again and again, access to decent health care can be difficult in parts of Africa. Wrong diagnosis, lack of equipment, lack of a nearby health facility, or even a shortage in specialists can impact on the quality of health care. In previous blogs we have shown how some innovations are bringing specialists to patients remotely through mobile devices.

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CT scan can be quickly analysed by the software

Dr CADx, which we also featured on Inventive Africa 7 months ago,  is a software solution that helps doctors and health care workers diagnose medical images more accurately. Due to the scarcity of radiologists on the continent, most medical images are read by general doctors or other health care workers who lack expertise and end up misdiagnosing more than 30% of the cases that they review. As a result, millions of patients fail to get the right treatment or the treatment is delayed leading to more complications and even death. Dr CADx uses deep learning to interpret medical images and achieve an accuracy of 82% an improvement over the 70% average for radiologists. Dr CADx is designed to work in low resource settings with poor internet connectivity opening it up for use in many rural settings in Africa.

We still haven’t covered all the cool innovations featured in the IPA shortlist, so expect a part 3 covering the rest! The final will be held in Ghana next month, so keep your eyes open for the winner!

If you know of an innovation that is changing lives, or you want to be a guest blogger get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica or via email, and please share the blog with your network on Twitter and FacebookAlso, we have a new Facebook page! Please like it, and carry on the dialogue about African Innovation there!

Did You Know IPA rewards diverse innovations in Africa?

Did You Know IPA rewards diverse innovations in Africa?

Probably the most exciting time of the year with regards to African innovation is when the Innovation Prize for Africa announces its nominees. Then 10 nominees are always inspiring ideas that have the potential to create great change on the African continent. In previous years we have seen innovations like The Tryctor, offers many the access to smaller cheaper farm machinery, Api Palu, a natural anti malaria treatment,  and the Green Tower, which uses solar to create massive electricity savings to households. This years nominations are no different with incredible innovations and examples of African created technology across various different sectors. Usually we pick three or four to innovations from the nominees to feature in a blog. This year, there are so many exciting ideas that it will need a part two and three to fit them all in!

Go to Part 2 of the IPA blog here

Go to Part 3 of the IPA blog here

Check out some of the nominees below:

FarmDrive

There is no surprise the FarmDrive have made the list. Over the last year they have received acclaim from all over Africa and outside it. (Including from Inventive Africa!). 

FarmDrive have developed a mobile phone application that enables small holder farmers to gain access to credit. Traditionally, there is little data about individual farmers and they pose a credit risk to banks. FarmDrive collects data from various sources, such as individual data, social data, environmental data and satellite date, to Continue reading “Did You Know IPA rewards diverse innovations in Africa?”

Did You Know Africa is thinking about the future of employment?

Did You Know Africa is thinking about the future of employment?

I am back in Ghana for a holiday but I am trying to make the most of the time here. Learning as much about what is new in Ghana as possible. Fortunately for me, the Stars For All Nations (SFAN) event at the British council, that I wrote about here, took place during my stay here. After a morning meeting at La Wireless school, to organise our upcoming coding club, I was a little late to the event and sadly missed the beginning.

The fact that I missed part of Airtel MD Lucy Quist’s presentation was disappointing for me personally, but optimistic for the event. What this means is, the event started on time! I have been to many events here in Ghana in which I had to wait for a long time for the beginning. Even yesterdays Easter celebration in the village delayed by 5 hours! But, this even starting on time was a sign of good things to come. As I arrived the 200 strong audience were quietly and attentively listening to Lucy Quist’s inspiring insights.

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Lucy Quist, a renowned speaker who is an advocate for STEM education, was the main speaker at SFAN. During her opening speech, she spoke about how important it is that Africa supports Africa. As we have been saying on Inventive Africa for sometime, “Change is happening” in Africa, and Africa needs to be ready to take advantage of it. Quist explained that “the majority of people preparing for the African demographic and opportunity boom are not African”. From just walking around Ghana this is quite clear. There are many non-Ghanaians in Ghana taking advantage of the potential of the Ghanaian market. It is time for Ghanaians to also recognise the potential here and start utilising the market. Quist also pointed out that African’s need not only to create jobs, but to buy from other Africans. Continue reading “Did You Know Africa is thinking about the future of employment?”

Did You Know 3D printing is saving lives and the environment in Africa?

Did You Know 3D printing is saving lives and the environment in Africa?

3D printing is a trend that doesn’t look to fizzle out. It is changing the way industry works and enabling small businesses all over the world. The prices of printers are coming down steadily and it is even possible to scavenge the parts and make one yourself! 3D printers and the availability of effective 3D scanners are giving unlimited opportunities to individuals, businesses and even medical suppliers, as you will see below. There are some negative aspects to this, with security threatened as it is now very easy to scan and print house keys using fairly rudimental 3D printing equipment. But, on the whole, 3D printing will speed up the supply chain and change people’s lives in a positive way.

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3D printed prosthetic by RoboBeast

3D printing has already been drastically changing the lives of some Africans. RoboBeast have been printing prosthetic limbs for people off the back of a Landrover in the African bush. This durable 3D printer is working under tough condition in remote areas and proves how versatile the 3D printing industry has become. It is now even possible to 3D print in metal, which would cut out the transportation fees for many industries. (The metal 3D printers are still very expensive)

ReFab Dar, based in Tanzania, are hoping to take advantage of the increased effectiveness of 3D printing. The aim to create the opportunity to 3D print vital medical supplies across Africa. This would enable Africa to take control, supplying itself with medical equipment it can not do without. They have set up a hacking competition and invited participants to design 3D printed medical tools. The competition focusses on tools that hep prevent HIV and birthing equipment. The submission date was on the 20th, and finalists will be announced on the 31st of March.

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ReFab Dar have another innovation up their sleeve, also in the 3D printing sector, killing two birds with one stone! Currently they are taking plastic waste and turning it into the raw material for 3D printers, unlocking its value. Plastic waste is a scourge that plagues the continent. Countries like Rwanda seem to have been able to deal with it, but in many other countries, plastic is seen everywhere throughout the major cities in Africa. Currently, 3D printing is not utilised enough in anywhere in the world to clean up all the plastic waste, but as it becomes more and more effective, and with competitions like ReFab Dar’s for creating medical supplies, it will become more prevalent across the continent. The raw material is just sitting their waiting to be used. It is even possible that the bottling and packaging companies realise that they are missing out on an income and will do more to clear up and recycle the waste after its usage. Check out the video from their website, it is incredible innovation that can change Tanzania and the whole of Africa!

3D printing can be utilised in so may industries. Medical supplies may be one of the most important for the general health of the continent, but equipment for farmers, mechanics,  tradesman, like plumbers and electricians, scientific equipment for schools, and even bigger industries such as laptop manufacturers like Positivo in Rwanda, could take advantage of 3D printing to make their operations more efficient.

Good luck to all those taking part in the ReFab Dar 3D printing hack. We can’t wait to see the results! If you know of any other 3D printing solutions and innovations in Africa, or you want to be a guest blogger get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica or via  email, and please share the blog with your network on Twitter and FacebookAlso, we have a new Facebook page! Please like it, and carry on the dialogue about African Innovation there!

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Did You Know events across Africa are focussing on Innovation?

Did You Know events across Africa are focussing on Innovation?

Africa is innovating, but in many instances the world refuses to see it. I have many conversations with people that are very sceptical about African innovation. But, within the continent there is a feeling of enthusiasm towards innovation and optimism that innovation can improve the lives of individuals and the continent as a whole.

In these changing times, the Africa youth are potentially best placed to take advantage of the changing circumstances that new technologies are creating for the world we live in. I say potentially because, despite the optimism, Africa is still lacking important infrastructure. Measures are being taken by governments and private organisations to close the digital divide and enable the youth to take advantage of technology and innovation. One upcoming event that is approaching that very topic is the Quantum Leap Career Fair, which will be taking place on April 12th in Accra, Ghana. The event is part of a collaboration between Stars From All Nations (SFAN), who aim to enable the next generation of African Leaders, and iSpace, one of the leading technology hubs in Ghana. The theme of the event is ‘Technology and the Future of Work in Africa’.

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Automations will change the job market

A Mckinsey study suggests that when current  primary school students reach working age, 65% of the jobs will have been newly created and not existed today. Automations are making many jobs more efficient and there is more and more need for computer programmers as well as other positions. As well as being a careers fair, and preparing job seekers for work, SFAN and iSpace are seeking to highlight the importance of being prepared for these new job functions. If Africa can take the lead in these preparations, then it is possibly to close the gap to the rest of the world much more efficiently.   Continue reading “Did You Know events across Africa are focussing on Innovation?”