The Coronavirus pandemic has brought out the innovator in many Africans. From automatic hand-washing machine to a solution to connect his community with relevant information and so on, the innovators are helping put the pandemic in check.
Mohammed Akamara is Sierra Leonian. His country like many countries in the developing world is home to some of the poorest people in the world. Water and other basic amenities are scarce in these poor neighbourhoods. The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic brought a major challenge for such communities and this got Akamara thinking. He came up with ‘automatic’ taps that help small communities avoid contact while washing hands.
Akamara came up with this because one of the precautions of avoiding the spread of the virus is in not touching surfaces.
“We have been faced with the dilemma of touching the tap while washing our hands. It is one of the many easy ways the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted,” he said in an interview published on the Tony Elumelu Foundation website.
Akamara, a Tony Elumelu Foundation Alumnus, comes up with a device that uses locally available and recyclable materials. His company, Light Salone Innovation, has built the Lili Tap to help Africans with a safer and unique hand-washing system.
The device is done in such a way that the tap is opened and closed with a foot working down a lever system. The tap has been endorsed by the Sierra Leonian government. It is being rolled out in communities, homes, offices, business places, markets, and schools.
Akamara is not alone in helping create solutions to the pandemic. In Nigeria’s next-door neighbour, the Niger Republic, access to emergency units and correct information is a challenge. This is true for the whole of Africa. This challenge spurred Hamadou Daouda, a Niger-based entrepreneur and beneficiary of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, to create a solution. With it, communities can connect with relevant information.
In March, a free service which allows the people in Niger to call and get information on COVID-19 in the five official languages. So far, the service has provided answers to over 4,000 telephone enquiries from all over Niger. The Ministry of Health in Niger has approved it. Daouda’s company, Novatech, is shopping for partners to expand its reach and drive awareness to curb coronavirus.
Daouda’s innovation resonates with the plan of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to provide vital information for people via their phones on COVID-19.
WHO, in a statement on Monday, said three UN agencies had set to work with telecommunication companies to text people directly on their mobile phones with vital health messaging to help protect them from COVID-19.
“These text messages will reach billions of people that aren’t able to connect to the internet for information.
“Now more than ever, technology must ensure that everyone can access the information they need; the collaboration will start in the Asia Pacific region and then roll out globally.
“The goal is to reach everyone with vital health messages, whatever their connectivity level.
“An estimated 3.6 billion people remain offline, with most people who are unconnected living in low-income countries, where an average of just two out of every ten people are online.’’
ITU and WHO are urging all telecommunication companies worldwide to join this initiative to help unleash the power of communication technology to save lives from COVID-19.
This initiative builds on current efforts to disseminate health messages through the joint WHO-ITU BeHealthy BeMobile initiative.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is the first pandemic in human history where technology and social media are being used on a massive scale to keep people safe, productive and connected while being physically apart.
Health workers are utilising telemedicine to diagnose patients and hospitals rely on being connected to coordinate and triage them.
Resilient and trustworthy telecommunication networks and services are essential, as more countries, companies and individuals turn to digital technologies to respond to and cope with the impact of COVID-19.
Building on their longstanding collaboration, ITU and WHO are committed to identifying and scaling best evidence-based digital health solutions and to leveraging frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data to diagnose, contain and predict outbreaks better and faster.
Testing is another challenge in managing the pandemic and this is where a Nigerian, Chidi Ohammah, who is the CEO of Sevenz Healthcare, has come in. His invention is an answer to the lockdown implemented across Africa and the world. The Tony Elumelu Foundation beneficiary has devised a way for people to get tested from their homes.
“With KompleteCare’s team of over 15,000 doctors and technology, individuals can easily check for symptoms of COVID-19, undergo a health check and make better decisions about their well-being.
“KompleteCare also provides real-time data to government agencies for contact tracing and data accuracy.
“KompleteCare is looking for funding and partners to give more Nigerians access to quality healthcare straight from their devices,” said the foundation on its website.
There is also Nadiatu Ali, a Ghanaian entrepreneur. His enterprise is focused on producing sanitiser gels and donating face masks to people in his community.
He said: “As the need has arisen for lots of medical and personal aids, my business has started producing hand sanitiser gel and hand-rubbing alcohol which we are producing and selling within my region, Northern Ghana.
“We will start production on Monday to supply freely to our community as per our social responsibility. We are however in need of support for materials and sewing machines to engage more young people who will provide free labour in the production process.”
For Cabo Verdean Erico Pinheiro Fortes, who founded PrimeBotics, his goal was to develop versatile drones that deliver customised technological solutions to farmers, governments and non-governmental institutions related to agriculture in Africa and around the world.?
Erico and his partner are refocusing PrimeBotics with new solutions to mitigate the spread of COVID19 in Cabo Verde.
“Their idea is to use their drones to disinfect streets, deliver medical & non-medical supplies, and produce 3D-printed face shields for hospitals.
“With PrimeBotics’s current production capacity of 20-30 face shields a day, he seeks partners to upscale his impact in Cabo Verde,” said the Foundation.
Source: The Nation
Writer: ROBERT EGBE