Top 15 technology solutions transforming Africa
Join the 2nd annual Aid & Development Africa Summit on 28 February-1 March 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya to discover game-changing innovations in mobile technology, humanitarian logistics, health & WASH, communications, shelter and refugee camp management. Register your participation at http://africa.aidforum.org/register
Developed at the South Africa National Bioinformatics Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Hyrax Biosciences has created a HIV drug testing technology in the cloud based on an Amazon Web Services (AWS). Exatype tests HIV drug resistance with unprecedented speed and accuracy and at a fraction of the cost (previously it cost 300-500$ to complete a single resistance test).
Exatype solves the problem of drug resistance by showing which drugs would be most effective for each individual patient, thus increasing response and improving treatment. By using the cloud, Hyrax Biosciences was able to take their research from idea to business in a short amount of time and at a fraction of the cost it would incur before. Find out more at https://hyraxbio.co.za/
2. Vula Mobile
The Vula App, developed by Dr William Mapham, helps health workers in rural areas send data and photos of cataracts to a specialist in a nearby city. They can then diagnose the problem, suggest a solution, and even book appropriate surgery, eliminating need for numerous trips to the city for those who live in remote areas. Once the treatment has been identified, they can go visit the specialist to undergo the surgery.
The app was initially created for ophthalmology referrals, but it quickly became clear that the functionality provided by Vula was widely needed. Vula added cardiology, orthopaedics and burns in April 2016. For more information visit http://www.vulamobile.com/
Sproxil, developed by Ashifi Gogo, is fighting the danger of counterfeit medicine through a simple SMS system. Participating drugs companies apply for scratch-panel stickers that can be attached to their medication packaging. Customers scratch off the panel to reveal a code which they text to Sproxil. The company checks the code against its database of genuine drugs and texts back a confirmation of authenticity. Buyers can also scan the barcode or simply ring a call centre staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to verify that the drugs are genuine. Sproxil has also introduced incentives for consumers to use the service, such as mobile phone air time rewards.
More than 70 drugs companies have signed up to the service, including multinationals such as GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis and around 28 million verifications have taken place globally since the scheme was launched in 2009. Visit http://www.sproxil.com/ for more information.
4. Fyodor: Urine Malaria Test (UMT)
Created by Fyodor, a US based biotechnology firm founded by Eddy Agbo, the urine malaria test provides point-of-need diagnosis of the Plasmodium parasite using dipstick technology as used with manual pregnancy tests. The do-it-yourself solution delivers a diagnosis within 25 minutes and can be executed with little or no training. According to UNICEF, malaria infects 300 to 600 million people every year around the world. The potential of offering accurate and early diagnosis of malaria can speed up the process of tackling the disease in rural areas lacking in healthcare infrastructure and also reduces the risk of the wrong treatment, greatly aiding the fight against malaria.
The Urine Malaria Test won the inaugural 2015 Health Innovation Challenge Awards in Nigeria, backed by the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN). For more information visit http://www.fyodorbio.com/products/umt/
Dr Valentin Agon developed Api-Palu, an anti-malaria drug treatment made from natural plant extract, making it significantly cheaper than anti-malarial drugs currently on the market. Api-Palu has great inhibitory effects on 3D7 strains of plasmodium falciparum the causative agent of malaria.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 88% of malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths reported globally with some African governments spending up to 40% of their public health budgets on malaria treatment. The Api-Palu treatment, which is available as tablets, capsules, or syrup, will therefore make a huge change for patient and budget alike. More information can be found at http://www.apibenin.org/topic1/index.html
Ushahidi, a Kenya-based company, has developed “the BRCK” a unique and innovative product. It is a rugged modem designed for harsh environments with limited power and connection. It can switch between different types of connection such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G. It comes with eighty hours of battery life which is vital during Africa’s frequent blackouts, like Kenya’s nationwide power blackout in 2013.
The BRCK can also create secure networks wherever it is set up, collect weather data and can perform remote repairs via the cloud. In addition, the way in which the product has been designed has prompted its partnership with educators, merging the BRCK with a Raspberry Pi (a low-cost, credit-card sized computer) to create robust tablets with large battery life and an easy-to-use interface. This low-cost solution, called the Kio, is being used in schools. Learn more at http://www.brck.com/
7. The Cardiopad
The Cardiopad is a computer tablet capable of diagnosing heart disease in rural households with limited access to medical services. Cardiovascular diseases kill some 17 million worldwide annually.
A program on the Cardiopad, designed by Cameroonian engineer Arthur Zang, collects signals generated by the rhythmic contraction and expansion of a patient's heart. Africa's first fully touch-screen medical tablet then produces a moving graphical depiction of the cardiac cycle, which is wirelessly transmitted over GSM networks to a cardiologist for interpretation and diagnosis.
At the Laquintinie, one of the country's biggest hospitals, cardiologist Dr Daniel Lemogoum said that, in a recent survey, three in every five persons who uses the Cardiopad has been diagnosed as hypertensive, or at risk of heart diseases. "These are people who would not necessarily have been aware they are hypertensive. It means sudden deaths might be preventable."
8. eyeWitness to Atrocities
In this era of digital witnessing, international criminal prosecutors have experienced considerable challenges in verifying the credibility of images and videos that have been uploaded to social media channels. Responding to this challenge, the International Bar Association (IBA), in collaboration with LexisNexis, has launched a new app that enables users to take photos and record video footage whilst automatically collecting GPS coordinates, date and time stamps, device sensor data, and surrounding objects such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks.
The user can submit the footage directly from the eyeWitness app to a database maintained by LexisNexis, where it is stored in a secure repository that functions as a virtual evidence locker, safeguarding the footage for future investigations and legal proceedings.
The user also retains the option of uploading the footage to social media. The app includes a “panic button” that enables the user to delete all traces of the recorded information as well as the app itself from their mobile phone. Download the app here http://www.eyewitnessproject.org/
For many small-scale farmers, the only source of information about the market rate for crops comes from the very people who are trying to buy them. The lack of pricing transparency means that farmers do not always get the best deal. MFarm seeks to solve this by providing up-to-date market prices via an app or SMS, direct to farmers. It also connects farmers with buyers directly.
The MFarm app gives monthly analysis of the crop prices in different markets, showing the price trends. The farmer is then able to make informed decisions on what to plant, when to plant, how to price his produce and where to sell it.
In addition to pricing information and group selling, MFarm has also developed a group buying tool, allowing farmers to pool resources to negotiate better prices for things like fertiliser. More information at http://mfarm.co.ke/
Esoko is a technology platform that integrates smallholder farmers into the formal value chain by providing a robust communications infrastructure, allowing smallholder farmers to be reached quickly and served inexpensively through mobile phones. The platform enables multiple stakeholders in the value chain to push critical information to small-holder farmers such as market prices, agronomic and training tips, while also providing the ability to survey farmers to understand their needs and desires.
Studies revealed real improvements in farmer incomes due to services such as Esoko price alerts. This investment not only offers high social impact for small holder farmers, but in the longer-term, the platform has the potential to impact the information dissemination and overall efficiency of agricultural value chains in Sub-Saharan Africa. Find out more at https://esoko.com/
11. Refugees United
There are millions of people especially across Sudan, Somalia, the DRC and North Africa that have been separated from family and friends due to conflict or disaster and are desperately looking for their loved ones. Refugees United is an organisation with one important mission: To reconnect refugees with their families, wherever they might be.
Their app, also called Refugees United, allows users to search for lost family or friends in the NGO’s database. With it you can create a profile and search for family or friends in the Refugees United database. The app is accessible to all refugees, does not require any official documents and is free of charge. More information can be found at https://refunite.org/
In 2011, Kenyan developers Shimba Technologies launched the MedAfrica app. It helps users diagnose symptoms, provides healthcare related information, including first aid and reproductive health guidance and offers directories of doctors and hospitals with the aim of revolutionising how people access and utilise health information. To add to the features the app can also be used to identify counterfeit medication and a direct a user to the nearest doctor or hospital.
MedAfrica has grown quickly, with an average of 1,000 downloads a day just months after its launch. The app has won the Pivot25 and Ericsson Awards. MedAfrica can be found here, by visiting via your mobile phone browser: http://www.medafrica.org/
13. The iCow App
Created by Kenyan farmer Su Kahumbu, iCow harnesses the power of mobile phones to encourage best practice for dairy farmers and increase milk production.
Each animal is registered with the service, which then sends SMS reminders to the farmer about milking schedules, immunisation dates and tips about nutrition and breeding or information about local vets or artificial insemination providers.
The app also helps farmers know when to give their cows maternity leave and when to cut Napier grass for animal feed as well as providing information regarding milk production and profits. The iCow app was featured on Forbes.com as the best new African Mobile App of 2011. For more information, please visit www.icow.co.ke/
14. MapSwipe App
During a humanitarian crisis, it is essential to know where vulnerable people are located, yet millions around the world are not represented on any accessible map. MapSwipe is a mobile app that lets you search satellite imagery to help put the world's most vulnerable people on the map.
It enables users to view and swipe through satellite images of remote areas to identify features such as settlements, roads and rivers. The information gathered will help build maps for aid workers to use in largely unmapped but crisis-prone countries, such as South Sudan, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The new app is part of the Missing Maps project, an open collaboration that aims to map vulnerable places in the developing world. Learn more at http://mapswipe.org/
Olalashe, which means “brother” in Maasai, is an Android App which helps users when in trouble. It enables users to sends an SOS message to all emergency contacts on their mobile, alerting them that they need help.
It allows you to enter your in-case of emergency (ICE) contacts and send then an SMS that you are in trouble with a link to your location. It also has a single-click widget button located on the homescreen for quick access. Download it here: http://tinyurl.com/6qf5sw6
IMAGE SOURCE: The Humanitarian Technology Institute