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Wakanda’s so hot right now. The fictional African nation, featured in back-to-back blockbusters Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, is a tech leader in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). As in the films, in real life, Africa has developed some amazing innovations that in some cases are even leapfrogging the rest of the world. Take a look at these three.
Drone delivery of medical products
Unmanned aerial vehicles aren’t just for flight hobbyists and aerial photography fans anymore. In Rwanda, they’ve found a use that takes them to bold new heights.
Africa has unique problems that have led to unique innovations. For example, in mountainous Rwanda, the transport of blood, medicines and vaccines to remote clinics is difficult. Enter Zipline, a drone delivery system that’s saving thousands of lives in the East African country.
Before this tech took to the skies in October 2016, it would take a rural clinic hours to fetch supplies at a regional centre. Now a drone can reach them in less than 30 minutes. Who needs vibranium power?
Imagine a schoolroom without a blackboard or even a teacher. To learn, all you need are enquiring minds and a little help from BRCK.
The startup developed the Kio Kit, a 'digital classroom in a box', which contains 40 kid-friendly Kio tablets, a solar-powered Wi-Fi box, wireless charging and a hard, water-resistant, lockable case. The Kio Kit runs on a mobile Wi-Fi and storage device designed for environments with limited power and connectivity. And the tablets are like the kids’ very own Kimoyo Beads!
The government aims to transform Kenya into a middle-income nation by 2030. It’s identified universal access to the internet and education as key to achieving this. But with as many as 47 pupils to one primary school teacher, it’s difficult for each child to reach their potential.
Technologies such as the Kio Kit are giving more children a chance. And coupled with the likes of Fundi Bots, a robotics-training programme that teaches kids science in Uganda, it seems Africa is on the cutting edge of edutech.
Did you know Kenya is a globally recognised fintech hub? The advent of M-Pesa – the Vodafone service that allows users to deposit, withdraw, transfer money and pay for goods and services with a mobile device – helped establish 'Silicon Savannah'.
This one really could be out of an MCU movie. Think Shuri’s panther gauntlets in Black Panther or the Winter Soldier’s bionic arm.
Not Impossible Labs launched a drive in 2013 to use low-cost, consumer-grade 3D printers to make prosthetic limbs for children of war in South Sudan.
It all started with Project Daniel. When Not Impossible Labs founder Mick Ebeling read about Daniel Omar, a boy in South Sudan who had lost both his arms, he set out to make a difference. The end result wasn’t as sophisticated as a high-end prosthetic but it allowed Daniel to regain some normality. And it cost just $100 to manufacture. The company continues to produce custom 3D-printed prosthetics for South Sudan’s 50 000-plus amputees.
There are some real heroes in this story.