Owning a cow or other livestock is not an easy thing. Of course, if your family has owned cows for generations, skills are passed down. But, for those that have only few cows, or are finding it difficult to maintain the herd, it is important to have information at hand, quickly. There are often many difficult situations, from adverse weather conditions, to disease, that effect a herd, and if the heard is struggling, the family could be struggling also.
Of course with large urbanisation in #Africa, there are fewer opportunities to keep cows, unless for example you partake in #CowFunding, and in that case, someone else does the looking after for you! For those that have cows, maintaining the health of the heard is incredibly important. Optimum nutrition, medicine and health care is often the fine line between the life and the death of a cow. And one cow may mean the world to a family. Providing milk, or calves to sell or meat to eat, losing a cow, or having an unhealthy cow could have a massive impact on the well being of a family.
In this brave new world of technology and with mobile phones and internet access quickly spreading throughout Africa, it is now possible for anyone to get access to information. If people want specific information, sometimes Google (or other search engines) are just not efficient enough. In recent years we have seen a trend towards tailoring information for specific types of people. There are apps which give students access to books. and e-learning opportunities, and apps that enable people all over the world to advise on best farming practices. And now, there is a service which enables farmers to look after their livestock to the best of their abilities.
iCow helps cattle farmers, as well as other types of farmers, improve their productivity by sending them relevant text messages packed full with important information and instructions. By having access to relevant information, farmers can reduce risk. And it is not just for cow farming, there is a plethora of information such as on soil fertility, poultry, eggs and crops, which is helping many improve their farms.
Transporting yourself around parts of Africa is not always a straight forward process. Whether a short trip to work in the morning on a private minibus, a trip to the market on the back of an Okada, or a long journey by car, or on a bus, it can be a tiring and potentially risky journey. If you have lived in Africa for any length of time, it is likely you have seen a car accident, or heard of someone that has been injured (or worse) in an accident.
During my time in Ghana, I was involved in two accidents, (fortunately with no incident) and was often presented with horrific images of crashes in the newspaper, news or on social media. Whether it is the state of maintenance of vehicles or reckless driving, I can not be sure, but it is certainly a problem that needs to be resolved.
I often write that the challengers Africa faces drives innovation in a different way from in Europe, America and the rest of the world. This different set of challenges lead to solutions that can be used all over the world. So when I did some research into what technology is working to save lives and prevent road traffic accidents in Africa, I was surprised that I could not find anything worth writing about. (If you have heard of a solution please let me know!)
I expected to see speed sensors and limiters, new methods of identifying drivers that were breaking the speed limit or driving dangerously (eg digital registration), self driving vehicles or alcohol consumption apps that stop people from driving when over the limit. (In Kenya they have actually started alcohol testing drivers of commercial vehicles at bus stations).
I may not have found anything to prevent crashes, but there is a new app in South Africa which helps people after the crash. It is very important to get an accurate record of the aftermath of an accident. The location, time, vehicle make and registration, witness statements are all very important when distinguishing who was at fault during an insurance or police investigation.
FICS, a South African private investigation service, have launched the app which will help those involved and by standers document a crash. All the information will be stored centrally and owned by FICS. Interested parties will have to pay to have access to the information. This is where the app adds motivation for people to document accidents. For every time a report is downloaded, the person who has submitted it receives R500. Monetising this service for those that make the reports ensures that their will be data out there on many road traffic accidents and that can also assist on preventing them in the future.
Having access to these reports will substantially cut down the time taken to resolve claims. It cuts out a lot of the uncertainty, and makes sure that insurance companies, police and lawyers have all the relevant information at their fingertips. The app may not prevent accidents, but it certainly gives those involved piece of mind after the unfortunate event.
If you would like to download the mobile app here are the links:
Apple App Store: http://bit.ly/FICSAppApple
Google Play Store: http://bit.ly/FICSAppGoogle
What is most important though, is not technological change, it is a change in mindset. We need to be more careful on our streets and take better care of our lives others. Bus drivers may be interested in getting to their destinations quickly, but risky overtaking manoeuvres around bends, or other dangerous tactics are not necessary. There also needs to be greater enforcement with regard to the maintenance of vehicles (I once had a door fall off a private bus I was in!), alcohol levels and passing of driving tests. It is also not only about the drivers. Pedestrians also need to be more careful and vigilant when walking on or near streets.
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 she the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook. Also, don’t forget to check out and like out Facebook page!
For more interesting blogs about African Innovation, check out our homepage.
On Inventive Africa we have been privileged to have a number of guest bloggers. I started this platform to show the world what Africa is capable, and also to inspire people in Africa to follow their own innovative dreams. When guest bloggers write for Inventive Africa, it shows that there is so much passion for African innovation and technology across the continent.
Check out some of the blogs from out previous guest bloggers:
Once again, we have another guest blogger for you. Andui Claude Ebaneck interviewed the CEO and Founder of Maelth Tech Int., Akwo Ashangndowah Jake, a healthcare entrepreneur from Silicon Mountain Buea, Cameroon. In 2015, he founded the healthcare IT Company Maealth Tech Inc. with mission to
- improve access to credible health info
- and strengthen Cameroons health care system by digitalizing cumbersome hospital processes.
Prior to their latest product, the HelpYourself mobile application, Ashangndowah has been in charge of many mHealth projects like the epills (a voice reminder system for patients with Chronic diseases for adherence checks e.g HIV/AIDS)
Andui Claude Ebaneck – What is the HelpYourself (HY) app?
Ashangndowah – HY is a FREE simple to use, visually appealing bilingual mobile application that helps users share health inquiries/issues LIVE with a certified medical doctor for possible advice and connect to a platter of health care services all through their smart phones. The goal is to put accessible and affordable first aid, home remedies and other health services into the hands of every person in Cameroon. To achieve this, the company has brought together a team of clinicians, computer engineers, Doctors to focus on combining Health with Information Technology (Health IT) to create a comprehensive, immediate and personalised health care app with services that are FREE Continue reading “Did You Know you can Help Yourself be healthy with an app from Cameroon?”
Agriculture is an area of tremendous opportunity in Africa. It is also a sector that needs substantial investment, so that Africa can feed itself and lessen the reliance on foreign imports. In a time where climate change is threatening to make farming even more challenging in Africa, and urbanisation is taking the labour force away from rural farm land, innovation is needed to increase productivity and give incentivise the labour force into getting back into farming, and developing their businesses.
We have featured many agricultural innovations on Inventive Africa, many of which continue to flourish, like Farm Drive, who have recently been features on the IPA 2017 shortlist, and have won various other awards across the continent. It seems that every year, there are many more inventive ideas around the sector, and today two more will be features.
Over the past few years, Kenya have been a leading force in African innovation. Safaricom have driven innovation with their introduction of mobile money service M-Pesa, which has changed the outlook of the Kenyan financial sector, connecting many with banking services. There are many spinoffs such as M-Kopa and M-Tiba, which both aim to combat the social issues of health care and demand for electricity.
Now they are venturing into the agricultural sector and aim to help agricultural processing businesses in production planning by opening a communication line with farmers. Connected Farmer, and app, enables farmers across Kenya to digitise their entire end to end operations. It includes, farmer profiling, communication, collection of Continue reading “Did You Know 3D urban farming in Africa is a thing?”
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Facebook. Also, we have a new Facebook page! Please like it, and carry on the dialogue about African Innovation there!