Africa may, indeed, be a developing continent but it is very little or no justification for the epithet that associates it entirely with the hunger, poverty, squalor, and violence that is so often depicted in a number of global media circles.
The continent has come a long way from helplessly wallowing in privations and waiting on help to arrive in choppers and trucks laden with medical and food supplies. Although a lot is still left to be desired, good things have emerged, and are still emerging from Africa too. And it might do some good sometimes to reflect the continent in this light, as this can serve to rewrite the somewhat lopsided narrative.
Africa may not exactly be up there with the blokes from Silicon Valley and San Francisco when it comes to technological innovations, but that takes nothing away from the fact that some fine work has actually been and is still being done here. Technological innovations from the continent may not have caused as many ripples or garnered as much clout as is often the case with offerings from parts of the western world, but it would be a mistake to associate the relative silence with ineptitude.
Suffice it to say that at various points in history, a number of innovations that disrupted the tech landscape and became subjects of global reckoning had Africans holding the credit for their creation.
Tech inventions from Africa are known to have helped improve the lives of individuals in various parts of the world, as well as alleviate suffering in very critical conditions. And it is all the more interesting that some of the innovations have been birthed in spite of the odds stacked against the creators in the form of the dearth of funds, inadequate infrastructure, unfavorable investor posture, as well as the difficulties associated with finding the requisite skilled manpower.
Regardless, Africans, past and present, have proved their mettle and demonstrated resourcefulness despite the less-than-enabling environment. A number of Africans have more than held their own as creative thinkers and innovators who are quite adept at developing novel technologies to transform societies. And today, we celebrate some of these timeless and evergreen innovations that have gone on to command global reckoning and demand. Now, here are some world-renowned technological innovations that were conceived by Africans and have now gone on to disrupt global markets.
Cardiopad is an invention of Cameroonian computer systems engineer, Arthur Zang. The engineer developed the device as a touchpad that has applications embedded in it for medical use. Arthur’s creation is capable of performing ECG examinations on patients, and it also supports GSM network-enabled transmission of the results of tests to cardiologists. The device is also designed to serve as a storehouse for patient data and notifications, as it incorporates an SQL database. The invention has gone on to find use in various parts of the world in situations that demand urgent diagnostics of cardio-related ailments.
You may not know this, but this widely-used medical device actually has African roots. South African Nobel Prize Winner, Allan McLeod Cormack, is credited with the invention of the Computed Tomography Scanner which sees most of its use in the medical line. The South African physicist created the invention decades before it was later developed and patented in the UK.
The CT Scan basically makes it possible for healthcare professionals to get visuals on the “insides” of patients. This visual examination of internal body parts which is made possible by the CT scan allows doctors to identify affected organs. The device is frequently called upon in the examination of such areas as the brain, neck, chest, spine, pelvis, abdomen, and even sinuses. For his ingenuous efforts, Allan received some reward when his innovation earned him a Nobel Prize in 1979.
Saphonian Zero-Blade Wind Converter
The Tunisian duo of Hassine Labaied and Anis Aouini can be mentioned in the same breath as this invention. Both individuals are the Co-Founders of Saphon Energy; a Tunisian clean energy startup who took the world by storm with an invention which they called the Saphonian Zero-Blade Wind Converter.
Their creation is essentially a bladeless wind turbine whose design is inspired from ships’ sails. The Saphonian produces energy by utilizing wind produced through a sail that follows a direction of motion that can be described as oscillatory, non-rotational, and three-dimensional. The wind produced by the back and forth motion of the sails is then harnessed and converted into mechanical energy using pistons.
The Saphonian has seen considerable use globally as a means of generating electricity at up to double the efficiency and half the cost of a typical wind turbine.
Rounding off this respectable list is Mubser; an innovation that was developed by Khaled Shady who was a 22-year old student at Menoufia University in Egypt at the time. The device is a navigational tool that is designed to help the visually-impaired.
The prodigious Egyptian’s creation was basically a wearable belt which incorporated a Bluetooth-connected headset. It boasts features and specifications which makes it quite effective at helping visually-impaired individuals find their way around common obstacles like chairs, staircases, and walls, in a manner that is safe and convenient.
And this innovation is the last but not the least on this list of inventions straight out of Africa which may have flown under the radar, but yet represent some of the giant strides already made and is still being made by Africans in the area of developing technologies that can potentially serve the world.
Feature Image Credits: ThinkGrowth