10 November 2016


    Trendsetting SA technology

    Necessity can do really good things for peoples’ powers of invention. These are some of the innovations South African tech entrepreneurs are creating to address the country’s unique needs and improve the lives of its citizens.


    The high density of many of South Africa’s informal settlements can make fires especially devastating. Which is why Lumkani decided to develop an early warning system that answered the unique challenges this context presents.

    Its smoke and temperature sensors are battery powered and act as a mesh network, so if one goes off, any other Lumkani detector in a 60m radius does, too. Because communal alerts save lives.

    Since its launch in 2014 Lumkani has also begun analysing the data from these detector mesh networks using smart centralised devices. This checks the health of the system as a whole and, if there is a fire, stores the GPS coordinates of it while at the same time raising the alarm in the community via SMS.

    Lumkani’s solutions are affordable, practical and are saving lives. You don’t get much more innovative than that.



    Mobile solutions for Africa is the name of Mezzanine’s game. It makes products and services like AitaHealth, a mobile app for improving community healthcare services, Stock Visibility Solution (SVS), an app to track stock levels at health clinic dispensaries, and SensiCardiac, a tool to diagnosis of structural heart defects.

    Our favourite from Mezzanine, though, is Smart Monitoring, an internet of things-powered solution that records fridge temperatures for the South African National Blood Service (SANBS).

    Smart Monitoring ensures that blood and related emergency products are kept at the right temperature and generates exception reports and automated alerts if the temperature in the monitored refrigerators deviates too far from the norm.

    It’s a great example of a simple solution built from existing technology that has the power to make a real difference in peoples’ lives.



    Wearable technology has gone from a minor market segment to a driving force in consumer tech in a few short years. The term might make you think of fitness trackers and smartwatches, but there’s far more to the category than that.

    Gustpay makes a device called the Gust MultiPass, which it calls 'the future of live events'. The MultiPass is an NFC-enabled wristband that can store all sorts of data about its wearer, from their event ticket (and control over the areas they can access with it), to their balance for food and drink, to granting them access to a public Wi-Fi network.

    Event organisers, meanwhile, get invaluable data analytics on consumer behaviour that can help them streamline and improve future events, and cashless payment solutions (with the options for users to top up their band using a mobile app) help reduce risk, overheads and administration.



    Today the biggest challenge content creator and distributors face is getting eyes on pages (or screens). Snapplify focuses on getting eBooks, magazines and newspapers in front of the people who want to read them, while rewarding publishers in the process, and making it easy for learners to get access to quality eBooks and other digital texts.

    It’s the largest eBook aggregator in Africa, with content from more than 250 publishers, over 100 000 aggregated titles, more than 600 resellers and online stores. Some of the big-name publishers working with Snapplify include Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Oxford University and Pearson.

    The company’s school-specific hardware solution, SnappBox, is a digital content storage and distribution tool that lets schools get content to students without them having to download it from the internet.