Article Source: RAENG
Professor Dele Sanni, Nigeria
The 3-D-3-P dryer is a simple system that dries grains and cereals using conduction rather than hot air, conventionally used in industrial dryers.
Sanni’s system, developed over more than six years in conjunction with students of his over the years, is far more affordable than conventional dryers. Based on the same principle as simply heating grain in a pan over fire, a series of three drums are heated to directly dry out the grains travelling through them. Rollers ensure that grains don’t burn, and the gas heating the system is adjustable at each stage.
As an alternative to drying grains in the sun – a method used by the majority of farmers who cannot afford industrial dryers – the 3-D-3-P dryer is faster and safer. Thousands of Nigerians buy spent grains from local breweries to dry out and use as animal feed – but incur losses through sun drying from animals, and due to fermentation from humidity.
Two pilot machines have been sold, and are being used to dry out sawdust before the high-energy waste product is turned into briquettes for sale to European countries.
Muzalema Mwanza, Zambia
The Baby Delivery Kit is a simple but well researched kit of tools for midwives in Zambia delivering babies in under-resourced clinics, or at home births.
The kit includes basic items like a scalpel, sanitary pads, a hygienic sheet and cotton swabs – a list often given to prospective mothers to provide themselves when they arrive at hospitals to give birth.
After her own challenges – and surprise – when told to provide these items herself for the birth of her first child, Mwanza began working with clinics in two major cities in Zambia to find out the extent of the problem.
Today, Mwanza and her team produce thousands of kits a month, selling them through twenty clinics directly to prospective mothers and midwives in an effort to reduce infections among new-borns.
Collince Oluoch, Kenya
Chanjoplus is an online system that helps parents and health-care workers track vaccines, ensuring children get access to life-saving medicine.
Chanjoplus is built to be integrated into Kenya’s national healthcare system, and was created following extensive research with nurses, and volunteers who dispense vaccines and parents.
After working as a vaccination volunteer himself, Oluoch came across irregularities in national vaccination drives that saw thousands of children miss out on their vaccines. Volunteers invent names to increase their quota of vaccines, parents lose their children’s vaccine cards, and healthcare facilities are overwhelmed by paperwork associated with an outdated, manual system that leaves little room for human error.
Chanjoplus is currently in a pilot phase, with volunteers receiving training on the system in Nairobi for their second trial.
Kenneth Guantai, Kenya
Guantai’s self-charging electric hand carts run on batteries that are powered by the excess energy produced by their very own rotating wheels.
Capturing energy from moving axles as the hand cart is pushed along, kinetic energy is amplified through a series of gears and then converted into electric energy to be stored in a battery pack. A second battery pack actually powers the hand cart, and when depleted, is swapped out with the pack that has been charging at the same time. The depleted battery pack is then charged by movement, starting the cycle all over.
Hand carts are a typical feature of informal Kenyan commerce, with thousands of vendors using them as shops and transport between major markets and supply points. Hospitals use hand carts to move medicine and food, and airports run diesel-powered carts to transport luggage between planes and luggage holds.
Guantai believes that the regenerative motion recharging system, which can power a cart for hours, will have a major impact on the productivity of vendors and workers, taking a large portion of physical exertion out of their tasks.
Dr Lukas du Plessis, South Africa
Du Plessis’s hybrid machine tool works on five axes to allow users to shape, cut, grind, shear and otherwise form metals and hard materials with more precision.
While five-axis machine tools do exist, they’re typically incredibly expensive, unaffordable to most African artisans. Du Plessis’ unique system employs simple design innovations – such as using granite as the base on which all work is referenced – to cut down on costs without compromising on agility and precision.
Developed over many years, du Plessis’ work started as part of a post-graduate degree more than a decade ago. After working in various industries the world over, du Plessis returned to South Africa to work as a lecturer, and revived his designs to turn an academic exercise into a physical device that could benefit the manufacturing industry at large in South Africa.
James Ochuka, Kenya
JuaKaliSmart is an online store designed specifically to help informal artisans in Kenya deal directly with customers.
The word Juakali originally refers to welders that work on the side of the street, translating as ‘under the hot sun’. The phrase has come to refer to informal artisans in general, thousands of who work in towns and cities across Kenya.
Ochuka developed JuaKaliSmart for artisans in Eldoret, where he lives, and found it challenging to introduce the artisans to the concept of e-commerce.
Today, however, there are hundreds of products listed on the site, and a core group of Juakali have been central in developing the app to better suit their needs. JuaKaliSmart has gone from an online store akin to Amazon, to a mobile app which allows buyers to talk directly to Juakali.
Chukwunonso Arinze, Nigeria
KAOSHI is a mobile app that connects money senders across the globe. The app facilitates a peer to peer money swap, circumventing the need to literally send money across borders.
The app tackles the high cost of transferring money to and between African countries, and the hassle of long queues at financial institutions, or buying forex on the black market.
Instead, it allows users who want to send money in opposite directions to swap between themselves, which is cheaper and more convenient.
KAOSHI connects users both within and outside of Africa, allowing each to specify the currencies they want to exchange and matching them to users making inverse exchanges.
Beth Koigi, Kenya
Majik Water harvests moisture from the air to provide affordable, clean drinking water to off-grid communities.
The all-in-one system harvests, stores and then dispenses water. Custom built water dispensers – or water ‘ATMs’ – will allow communities to pay only for as much water as they need.
After meeting at a hackathon, Koigi and team mates decided to focus on the water needs of rural communities in Kenya who live in arid and semi-arid areas. Experimenting with different ways to absorb and then release water, the team is doing extensive research at several sites in Nairobi, while also installing their first commercial units in South Africa. A successful pilot run in collaboration with a children’s home in an informal Nairobi settlement will continue to be adapted and tested in an area where the need is greatest.
Water ATMs are already prominent in Kenya, typically supplied by costly reverse osmosis devices. The Majik Water team hopes to supplement this technology with something more affordable.
Neo Hutiri, South Africa
Pelebox is a smart locker system designed for public healthcare facilities to dispense chronic medicine to regular patients, cutting down on long queues and easing pressure on clinic resources.
Developed by Hutiri and his team for the South African healthcare system, the Pelebox is a simple wall of lockers, controlled by a digital system in the centre. Healthcare workers stock the lockers with chronic prescription refills, log the medicine on the system, and secure each locker. Pelebox then sends patients a one-time PIN, which they simply enter into the system to unlock their medicine.
Roy Allela, Kenya
Sign-IO combines a mobile app with smart gloves that track and translate sign language movements into speech in real time.
The intelligent system was designed with young children in mind, and is being developed in conjunction with young users with hearing and speech impediments. Hardware embedded inside the glove reads the user’s finger movements, and compares these to an internal database based on American Sign Language.
The mobile app then translates this to speech immediately – and users can set the gender, pitch, tempo and delay of the voice that represents them.
Designed with two of his nieces in mind, Allela is learning sign-language himself in order to understand the challenges that the machine learning algorithm is going to face as it develops. Sign-IO, which stands for Sign-Input-Output, is currently being tested by children as young as five, with the hope that the next iteration will be ready as a gift for his nieces’ sixth birthday.
George Chege, Kenya
Smart Brooder is an intelligent energy management system to automate chicken coops, giving farmers more freedom and peace of mind.
Pre-programmed to understand the needs of chickens at every stage of their development, the Smart Brooder system controls heating, measures temperatures and humidity, and advises farmers and workers when physical intervention is required.
Chege developed Smart Brooder with team mates who own their own chicken farms, a fairly typical way to supplement income in Kenya. The system can activate and deactivate heating systems – whether they run on electricity or gas – and allows farmers to remotely manage their chicken coops.
Chege has already installed several commercial units around Nairobi, and now faces the challenge of convincing users that Kenyan technology can be as reliable as expensive imported solutions.
Anne K. Rweyora, Uganda
Smart Havens Africa are sustainable, smart homes built from appropriate but affordable technologies, geared towards making home ownership more accessible to African women.
Technologies include locally designed brickmaking that uses less material, designs that reduce temperatures in the hot Ugandan climate, custom biodigesters, and solar water and electricity installations to keep utility costs down.
A teacher by training, Rweyora began working on the idea after volunteering in South Sudan as a social worker, she felt that home ownership should be more attainable to the average working woman.
Smart Havens Africa builds houses in areas where homes are predominantly rented out by wealthier landlords. The company, a team of 12 now in their third year, receives applications from prospective owners – mostly women – who will rent-to-own over a period of only five years.
During construction, the team also trains more artisans than needed, offering bricklaying and other training sessions for free to men and women in the area.
Safiatou Nana, Burkina Faso
SolarKoodo is a movable solar water pumping system that helps smallholder farmers to pull water from boreholes in off-grid regions where water tables drop very low. SolarKoodo, which means ‘solar crops’ in Mooré, can also be used to electrify homes.
Smallholdings are common around lakes and rivers across Burkina Faso, but the dry months in the Sahel region make farming almost impossible for farmers who cannot afford irrigation systems.
An adjustable solar panel powers a motor that pumps water from boreholes, and the entire system is built to be highly mobile and adjustable. Instead of permanent installations that have to remain in one place, the SolarKoodo can be shared by a collective of farmers because it can be moved from one borehole to the next as easily as a hand-cart.
Currently being tested on the edges of Ouagadougou next to the Tanghin Dam, the device is aimed at farming cooperatives that can purchase it as a tool to be shared by farmers all through the year.
Paul Matovu, Uganda
The Vertical Farm is an easy-to-build wooden farm-in-a-box designed to capitalise on waste in urban areas.
Matovu and his team custom build the Vertical Farms to fit the space and needs of individual buyers, and designed the modular platform to grow typical leafy green crops used in home kitchens.
A central column acts as a repository for organic waste, and contains earthworms who break waste down into fertiliser. The fertiliser, which sinks to a handy drawer at the base of the box, can then be used to supplement the soil in soil beds that surround the central column, improving crops significantly.
Matovu, trained to work in forestry, has tested the system in both urban and rural settings, and has now established a local manufacturing process outside Kampala to increase production of the Vertical Farm.
Dr Obi Igbokwe, Nigeria
WellNewMe is an assessment tool that uses algorithms to analyse users’ risks of contracting non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and hypertension.
Using years of experience from medical professions, research, and algorithms, the system takes data provided by individual users to predict the risks each faces from their lifestyles, genetics and environment. Users provide simple data such as family history and habits, but also supplement it with blood pressure, blood sugar and other readings from clinics or pharmacies.
Igbokwe, a medical doctor who taught himself to code, created the system in order to give people more insight into their own health. WellNewMe is aimed at pharmacies, clinics, and employers, but will be available to every day online users as well. The data, anonymised, will be shared with government healthcare advisors who are planning resources across the country, further removing guess-work from the approach the public sector takes to non-communicable diseases.
Elizabeth Kperrun, Nigeria
Zenafri is a series of mobile apps that teach toddlers and young children basic numeracy and literacy in their own language.
Teseem, the first app, teaches toddlers their first words and numeracy in vernacular languages such as Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and Swahili.
When children get old enough to follow story lines, Afrotalez narrates original stories based on traditional African folklore, with an educational element added in.
Developed while pregnant with her own child, Zenafri had been an idea of Kperrun’s for years. After recruiting a secondary school classmate to develop the app, Kperrun and colleague Eremia married, and three years later, their daughter is an avid tester of their apps.
Today, Zenafri apps have been downloaded more than 100,000 times, with about 1,200 users logging on every day. The team continually improves the apps using feedback from current users, and has also launched a decision-based storytelling app for teenagers.