Did You Know you can connect with your doctor using an app in Africa?

Did You Know you can connect with your doctor using an app in Africa?

The issue of healthcare in Africa is one that the world often focusses on. Despite big organisations, such as WHO, who have embarked heavily on projects to support healthcare across the continent, pumping large amounts of money into solutions, there is still a shortfall in adequate health care. Access to health care in particular is a serious concern and burning issues for many African populations. In much of rural Africa, where the majority are under privileged, are being hit hard by the harsh reality.

Where organisations, charities, and governments have have been less successful than expected, innovation and technological advances in recent years have led to other opportunities to improve the African health sector. The Yapili app, which was founded in November 2014 by a group of young entrepreneurs, gives a glimpse of light in a sector that is tarnished by negativity. It is a leveraged mobile app that offers communities access to  health care, bidding fare well to expensive medical care for majority of the people in Africa, and breaking the barriers between the rich and the poor.

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Physically attending doctors appointment in many part of Africa can be challenging. Many face long walks, and poor roads can make travelling via car or bus very difficult, especially with painful illnesses. There is even the cost to consider, with many deciding to wait it out, instead of seeking medical attention, often to disastrous ends. Mobile technology has made it possible to access health care remotely. Inventive Africa has discussed on numerous other occasions how doctors are being able to utilise mobile technology to monitor their patience, and even to do physical checkups of ears and eyes, and other symptoms using a mobile phone camera, reporting directly back to specialists. 

This amazing app is free to use, hence curbing all the stress of affordability in accessing the best doctors. It has a variety of licensed doctors and licensed physicians from across the globe, who collaboratively share their skills to promote efficiency and accessibility to health care. With this app, individuals have access to both local and western health professionals, who offer secure channels when seeking medical care. All this is done using a mobile phone! A major concern is data security, and with Yapili that remains a top priority. Language and communication pose no problem at all as local doctors are fully engaged and assist in all questions asked, and follow ups needed can be arranged with just a click on one’s mobile phone.

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Yapili is available in Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and is hoping to expand even further across the continent. Most of the doctors on board offer their services for free currently. In its early stages, doctors have come on for free out of passion, and Yapili have tapped into African doctors who are based outside the continent and are passionate about giving something back to their former communities.

Samuel had the pleasure of meeting some of the Yapili team and the recent Seedstars conference in Lausanne. The team is incredibly highly motivated and fully understand how important such an app is for the future of African health care. It is worth baring in mind that such an app may also have use outside of Africa, with health care systems in many western countries also feeling the strain!

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The Yapili team at the Seedstars summit

Not only has this app given new possibilities in health care, it showcases the possibilities of technology to those that have not previously had access to it. This is the case of many of these barrier breaking innovations that we have seen in Africa in recent years. It is incredible to see how quickly rural Africans, many without a formal education, are able to pick up new technologies and utilise them.

If you know of any innovations in Africa, an innovation that is changing lives, or you also want to be a guest blogger, get in contact with us on Twitter @inventiveAfrica or via email. Please share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.

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Did You Know SMS can improve your child academic results in Africa?

Did You Know SMS can improve your child academic results in Africa?

The Seedstars summit was packed full of innovations from emerging markets. Notably, innovative African startups were their in great numbers, standing loud and proudly. Not only did African innovations seem to be represented far more than the other markets, they won the lions share of the awards in the showcase of the summit. In fact, it was the Ghanaian start-up Agrocenta, that took away the grand prize of $500,000! For a round up of the days news from the inspirational Seedstars Summit, you can see our previous blog.

In the course of the day, we were able to speak to many inspirational people who had come to showcase their African innovations. One such person I managed to meet was Claire Mongeau, of M-Shule in Kenya, who kindly accepted to be interviewed for Inventive Africa. Hear the full interview below.

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Claire from M-Shule

Kenya, like many African countries, has many schools in villages with little access to technological tools needed by students to meet the demand of the 21st century learning. In order for children to receive the optimum education, they need the time and focus of a teacher. In many instances across the continent, it is very difficult for teachers to offer this kind of attention to their students. With rigid curriculums, teachers often find themselves trying to get through the curriculum as quickly as possible, and maybe not spending the time on the topics that the students find most difficult. Another issue is that, whilst many teachers are fantastic, there are instances in which teachers just simply do not meet a very high standard.

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M-Shule aim to “bridge the gap between artificial intelligence and adaptive learning, and make the possible for kids, even with a feature phone”. They do this using SMS learning innovation, leading improvement in academic performance, technology skills. Parents engagement in their children academic life is anticipated to improve, and the whole community support and involvement in education attained. This side effect is very welcomed, as it is especially important to have the parents in touch and engaged in their children’s education. Continue reading “Did You Know SMS can improve your child academic results in Africa?”

Did You Know Africa had the most successful innovations at Seedstars?

Did You Know Africa had the most successful innovations at Seedstars?

Yesterday, 12th April 2018, I sat in the audience of the Seedstars Summit filled with pride. After a few days of activities, the grande finale showcased Seedstars’ best innovations of the year. Over the course of the year, the Seedstars team, who are positioned in emerging markets around the world, search for the best innovations and start-ups. With over a 1000 applicants, they take the time to whittle them down to 65 finalists, of whom 12 would compete on the final day in a live pitching competition on the main stage.

Of the 12 live pitchers, 4 were from Africa, the highest proportion from any region. The African innovators to take to the stage were the Nigerian medication marketplace Medsaf, GiftedMom, a health information platform from Cameroon (Who we have featured on the blog previously), EMGuidance a South African medical content aggregator, and Ghanaian agricultural platform, Agrocenta. With a huge number of African innovators, and participants at the Seedstars Summit, each African speaker got a huge cheer welcoming them onto stage.

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The eventual winner of the overall prize, was AgroCenta, who were represented by co-founders Francis Obirikorang and Michael K. Ocansey. Francis was one of the last up on stage to explain their platform, which had already gained $250K in funding previously. Continue reading “Did You Know Africa had the most successful innovations at Seedstars?”

Did You Know there are too many NEF amazing NEF innovations to feature in one blog?

Did You Know there are too many NEF amazing NEF innovations to feature in one blog?

Our previous two blogs featured the Next Einstein Forum, which took place in March. The event seeks to promote African scientific excellence to the rest of the world, and to find the next brilliant scientists and mathematicians from the continent. It is such an exciting and important initiative, that this blog will be the third in the series of blogs about this year’ NEF. We will once again feature some of our favourite innovations from the Challenge of Invention to Innovation (Ci2i), an innovation challenge that shortlisted 16 finalists from over 130 entrants.

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For a general overview of the happenings of the event, including the inauguration of a new African scientific journal, and our thoughts on why it is such an important theme, you can check out this blog. Do see other featured innovations from the Ci2i, see this blog 

Molepse Bio oil/powder

We say it often, but it important to note that agriculture forms the backbone of many African economies, and, whilst there are often other greater sources of income, farming is vitally important. If it is not supported and developed, then the African continent will continue to rely on food imports. With the available land, this is simply not necessary, if the sector is managed properly.

Part of the process of ensuring that farms maximise their yields, and send a maximum amount to market, is to make sure that crops are stored properly after harvest. Post harvest losses are one of the major reasons for food insecurity. If Weevils enter a crop they can completely decimate it, so farmers need to take measure to protect against this. After four years of research, Donatus Njoroge of Kenya found the perfect mix of locally growing weeds, which are then mixed and turned into oil or powder. This has been found to be extremely effective by local farmers to repel major insect pests, such a Weevils. Farmers were able to store their maize for 6 months, which means it can reach until the next season.

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Donatus at NEF

 

Apart from being a natural product (and it is important to create natural products) another reason that they are more effective than artificial pesticides is that different pests effect different crop types. Molepse was effective with all types of pests. The affordability, as well as the fact that is natural, could change the fortunes of many farmers across the region.

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Molepse bio products

Rachel Sibande

Rachel Sibande, from Malawi, is already a renowned African innovator. Some may even call her an innovation celebrity! In 2013 she established the first innovation, mHub, in Malawi. She has also won various other awards, including one from Google.

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At this years NEF, she showcased her idea to use Maize cobs as a bio fuel. Up cycling has been quite popular world wide, and finding new uses for waste products takes that to a new level, especially in the energy sector. Maize is a staple food throughout much of the continent, and therefore that an millions of cobs available, which usually go to waste. Sibande plans to use the to run a gasifier based electrical system, which will be able to be utilised by local communities, schools, health centres and local businesses for their energy needs. It is not only power which will be generated, rather like Ecovon, they will create new building materials from the ashes from the power system, to create cheap housing, as well as boosting employment.

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Sibande’s innovation is upcycling upcycling! Power is a problem in many communities, as are building sustainable affordable housing. She is solving the problem by using a waste product that is found all over the continent. This rising star of African innovation will continue to find herself in the limelight with this idea, and surely many more! In fact, she was the winner of the NEF Ci2i, and it is clear that she is great supporter of other women in technology. In her winning speech she said “This is for the daughters of the continent. May they thrive in science to innovate and invent more home grown solutions.” Amen to that!

Hadithi! Hadithi!

Education is a big development issue across the continent. Access to schools is for many a major problem. Parents often require their children to help them out with work, or perform many other tasks, many have to walk long distances to school and others simply can’t afford to attend. Within schools there can be other hurdles to jump over. I have seen on occasions sub standard teachers, inappropriate learning environments, and a distinct lack of access to information. And, if there are not things for children to read, they will struggle with basic written and verbal communication, and fail to learn other things.

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There are a number of services in Africa that aim to give better access to information for students. But few of them are accessible in local languages with English and French the go to languages. But that also leaves the issue of a cultural disconnect, because local dialect is as important as learning a more widely spoken one. Hadithi! Hadithi!, created by eLimu, is a literacy app for 6 to 8 year olds, which contains stories written in local languages, by local teachers. Languages from Kenya, Uganda, Somalia and South Sudan are currently being used to help young students read and learn. The application covers the local curricula, and contains sentence making, spelling, letter tracing and games.

eLimu also have a number of other products aimed at other age groups. They also help train teachers to integrate technology into schools, and have revision help for students, with past papers and notes accessible online.

In 2020 NEF will have its next edition in Kenya, but in the mean time they will continue to support the best of the best in Africa to become the world’s next generation of scientific excellence. Keep your eyes open for more African scientific break throughs, that now have a platform to tell the world.

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Did You Know Einstein like brains are enabling African Innovation?

Did You Know Einstein like brains are enabling African Innovation?

Last week the Next Einstein Forum took place in Nairobi, which brought together some of the greatest minds in Africa, scientists as well as business leaders, to promote African scientific excellence, as encourage the future of Africa’s mathematical and scientific sector. For a general overview of the happenings of the event, including the inauguration of a new African scientific journal, and our thoughts on why it is such an important theme, you can check out the previous blog. 

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The Next Einstein Forum, like many African events currently, also promote innovation specific innovations from the African continent. Each time they hold the event, they choose 16 finalists, from over 100 applicants, who feature at the event. This time around was the second edition of the Challenge of Invention to Innovation (Ci2i). According Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of AIMS and Founder and Chair of Next Einstein Forum to “The NEF Ci2i challenge rewards research based innovations and products that have a direct impact on our communities. The selected finalists’ innovations address climate change, various health challenges and push the envelope by proposing new data science or advanced (deep tech) technologies.”

In this blog we showcase a few of our favourite finalists! (But of course, all of them have fantastic innovations that could shape Africa)

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Farming is a science, and it certainly won’t be as successful as you would like with simple guess work. I can attest to this with my failed farm experiment in Ghana, in which the soil and rainfall just was not suited to Jatropha, a so called wonder crop, that was not Continue reading “Did You Know Einstein like brains are enabling African Innovation?”

Did You Know Nairobi is showcasing 100 innovative Start-ups?

Did You Know Nairobi is showcasing 100 innovative Start-ups?

You may remember that during my trip to Kenya I paid a visit to the Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) offices to speak to Dr Omwansa about the event and his thoughts on the future of innovation. (If you have not seen the video you can check it out here. It is very interesting) Now we have seamlessly slipped into March, with the year running away from us already, but, no fear this is a good month. The NIW will jump into action on the 5th of March and will showcase the future innovators that will drive Kenya forward. Kenya is hellbent on taking an innovative lead in Africa, and this event is part of that process.

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A couple of days ago the NIW announced a shortlist of 100 start-ups shortlist of 100 start ups that would be featured during the course of the week. With over 350 entries it must have been hard work whittling them down, and that hard work is not over. Each start-up will pitch, and will again be cut down to the 15 most promising. As usual, we will pick a few that have caught our attention and feature them here.

The Usalama Application

During my time in Kenya, I was often warned that I shouldn’t go to certain places because of safety concerns. Of course, because of curiosity, I tried my best to go to most of those places or events despite the risk. (It is no fun to just sit in a sterilised hotel room!) But of course, safety is a real concern for many, and not just in Kenya! Major Continue reading “Did You Know Nairobi is showcasing 100 innovative Start-ups?”

Did You Know Nairobi Innovation Week is coming soon?

Did You Know Nairobi Innovation Week is coming soon?

All of last week we were at the Co-Willing conference, situated on Africa’s best beach, Diani beach. But the time came for us to pack our bags and leave paradise, and a conference which has enhanced enthusiasm, and provided great inspiration from great presentations on a wide range of topics such as solar, bee keeping, education systems, health, and even campaigning advice!

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Diani beach paradise! Don’t be jealous, we were working!

But whilst other packed up to go home, I couldn’t leave Kenya without heading to Nairobi, though of by many as the innovation capital of Africa. The journey was a long one, using the incredibly efficient train service between Mombasa and Nairobi, but eventually I ended up at the University of Nairobi, in the C4D lab to speak to the Nairobi Innovation week team. A year ago we wrote about their 2016 edition, so it was amazing to be there a year later to see what they are doing!

The Nairobi Innovation Week is one of the most exciting events in the African innovation calendar. They bring together people from all sectors, public and private, NGOs, startups, you name it. The exciting new ideas, created mainly by Kenyans, but also from around the East African region, will be showcased throughout the week. There will also be an award for the 15 most promising innovations, which usually shows some of the trends for the coming year. There is still a chance to sign up, so check out their site and showcase your innovations! This years theme is “Innovating for a Better Tomorrow”.

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview the Chairman of NIW, Dr Tonny Omwansa. Check out what he has to say about the NIW and his view on the innovation trends of 2018 below. (Please excuse my mispronunciation of Nairobi through out the interview! It really was a long day!)

Thank you to NIW, Dr Omwansa and George Masila, the communications officer, for hosting us at the NIW offices. We are still in Kenya, so please get in contact if you want to talk to us about your innovations. Just reach out to us on inventiveafrica1@gmail.com

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