Despite suffering through the horrific system of slavery & colonization, Africans made countless contributions to science and technology. This lineage and culture of achievement, though, emerged at least 40,000 years ago in Africa. Unfortunately, few of us are aware of these accomplishments, as the history of Africa, beyond ancient Egypt, is seldom publicized. Sadly, the vast majority of discussions on the origins of science include only the Greeks, Romans and other whites. But in fact most of their discoveries came thousands of years after African developments. While the remarkable black civilization in Egypt remains alluring, there was sophistication and impressive inventions throughout ancient sub-Saharan Africa as well. Modern math concepts (Eqypt), the calendar (Eqypt), advances in metallurgy and tool making (Tanzania), Architecture and engineering (Eqypt), Medicine (Eqypt) & Navigation are some of the technologies which have been traced back to Africa.
Africa has already shaken off the tag of the dark continent, it’s now regarded as the next and the last frontier for growth in the world. While some remain skeptical of the reality of this narrative, Africa is gaining momentum every year. With 7 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world and increasing direct foreign investments the future for Africa has never been brighter. Africa should no longer be seen as a charity case requiring endless handouts from superior Western economies.
Below is just highlight some of Africa’s lessor known modern scientific discoveries and contributions, of which there are MANY more… Kindly note while some may not be new inventions, it’s the first time they’ve been made in Africa and hence worth celebrating. They inventors clearly deserve credit for raising Africa’s profile on the map.
A group of 25 Ugandan students from Makerere University’s College of Engineering, Art and Design have built Uganda’s first electric car, the Kiira EV. Initially designed in 2009, the fabricated car was taken for a public test drive last week. Most of the parts of the two-seater, including the core body and combustion system, were designed and built locally. Uganda also recently launched an improved version, dubbed KIIRA EV SMACK.
Arthur Zang, a 24 year-old Cameroonian engineer invented the Cardiopad, a touch screen medical tablet that enables heart examinations such as the electrocardiogram (ECG) to be performed at remote, rural locations while the results of the test are transferred wirelessly to specialists who can interpret them. The device spares African patients living in remote areas the trouble of having to travel to urban centers to seek medical examinations.
Nigeria successfully launched five Earth observation satellites to date which could be used to monitor weather in a region seasonally ravaged by disasters. NigComSat-1 was Africa’s first communication satellite. It was launched on 13 May 2007, aboard a Chinese Long March 3B carrier rocket, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China. It was switched off the following year for analysis and to avoid a possible collision with other satellites. It later failed in orbit after running out of power due to an anomaly in its solar array. Nigeria later successfully launched The NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X spacecraft were lofted into orbit aboard a Russian Dnepr rocket from a launch pad in the town of Yasny, southern Russia.
Nigeria collaborated with UK engineers on the project, and the satellites are being monitored from control stations in Guildford, UK, and Abuja in Nigeria.
Saheed Adepoju is the Co-founder of Encipher Limited, a Nigerian-based technology company that introduced the first android-powered tablet into Nigeria. The INYE-1, which was unveiled in April 2010 is a 7-inch resistive screen tablet. It runs android 2.1 and allows users to connect to the internet using its inbuilt WIFI card and to use an external 3G modem from GSM networks. It offers about 3 hours of battery life and allows HDMI output to HDMI capable devices. INYE-2, which was unveiled in May 2011, is an 8-inch capacitive screen tablet. It runs Android 2.2 and allows users to connect to the internet using its inbuilt Wi-Fi card as well as its inbuilt SIM. It offers about 8 hours of battery life and allow users to connect to other USB devices.
Although he holds no patent on this invention, Mohammed Bah Abbah is credited with taking on the challenge of making accessible the “pot-in-pot refrigerator” or “zeer”, a refrigerating device that does not use electricity, to people in rural areas. He is a recipient of the Rolex Award for Enterprise, an award that provided $75,000 which Mohammed used to produce and distribute his invention in 11 northern states in Nigeria. Mohammed developed his pot-in-pot refrigerator by combining the knowledge he had gained from his grandmother’s craft of traditional pottery with simple laws of physics. He followed up on the idea by placing food in a small pot, which is then placed in a larger pot. The space between the two is filled with moist sand and a wet cloth cover is used to cover the whole set up. As the water in the moist sand evaporates through the larger pot, it carries heat away from the inner core of the whole set up.
Counter Collision Gadget
Automation has started to rule the world nowadays.Even though road safety measures and equipment are evolving for many decades it’s still not enough to protect many human lives from road accidents. Such was the inspiration that led The Nigerian inventor to invent a CCG. Brino Gilbert, won a trophy for being the best invention from Africa in the continental category at the May 2003 edition of the Invention and New Product Exposition (INPEX) in the United States for this invention.
Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited founded by Nigerian industrialist, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, unveiled its new cars – IVM Umu, IVM Umu and IVM Uzo- manufactured at the company’s Nnewi plant in Anambra State, South east Nigeria. 70 percent of the parts used in building the cars were locally sourced, heralding the emergence of a local car manufacturing industry that will, in the nearest future, serve the region. Already, the company has disclosed it plans to take its brand to neighbours in West Africa, with the Republic of Benin and Ghana on its radar. The company had earlier impressed with its trucks and buses.
The Cybertracker is a hand-held device that allows rangers to track animals in the field, by using the built-in GPS system and graphical interface. Because of the graphical interface, it is also possible for illiterate people to easily use this device. The Cybertracker, a modern South African invention, was the brainchild of Louis Liebenberg and Lindsay Stevenson.
The CAT Scanner
Dr Allan Macleod Cormack from Cape Town, South Africa, and Godfrey Hounsfield from the UK won a Nobel Physics Price in 1979 for his invention. The Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) scanner makes it possible to take three-dimensional X-rays of a human body in order to detect diseased tissue.
Kenyans have tried to pen their names in the history books of aviation by building their own kind of airplane. But many have not been successful in their endeavors. But the story is different for Moses Gichanga an IT specialist who literally innovated a pilotless plane. Moses Gichanga drone flies for up to two hours at a time. This drone has been proven to effectively deter poaching, and preserve Africa’s wildlife population. In fact, the United States uses Gichanga’s drone to monitor its borders. He now needs funding to launch his business operations, targeted at monitoring Africa’s wildlife reserves.
After the failure of Nyayo Pioneers cars, Kenya has now successfully launched car named Mobius, which is the cheapest retailing new vehicle in East Africa. Mobius Two omits many non-essential features while maintaining essential functionality. It has already been driven over 2,500 Kilometres around Kenya on varied terrain and proved its rugged capability. Mobius Motors hopes to succeed where many others have failed: designing, building and selling a product in Africa, which has long provided the raw materials to feed the world’s factories but struggled to create a manufacturing base at home.
Charging shoes is one invention that was developed by our very own Antony Mutua. This technology is applied to charge phones using power generated by pedestrians. The invention consists of a thin crystal chip that is fitted to the sole of the shoe.(It costs $46 to fit the chip to a shoe) As a person walks, electricity is generated through the pressure that is exerted on the sole during walking by the persons weight. The chip carries the current through an extension cable that extends to the phone in the pocket. One does not have to keep walking to charge the phone as the shoe can continue to charge it by releasing the stored energy after the shoe remains static. This way one can afford to walk without the wiring system and still be able to generate energy to be transferred to your mobile phone at a later time.
M-Pesa (“M” for mobile, pesa is Swahili for money) is one of the most celebrated success stories in information and communication technologies. M-PESA is the world’s most successful money transfer service. It enables millions of people who have access to a mobile phone, but do not have or have only limited access to a bank account, to send and receive money, top-up airtime and make bill payments.. The idea of mobile banking was born in Kenya and although Africans did not invent mobile phones, but they invented a new way of using mobile phones, which is for money transfer. M-Pesa has a staggering 19 million registered customers of the 40 million population, with a quarter of the country’s economy flowing through the mobile-money service. M-Pesa is now being rolled out globally and already has a presence in countries such as Tanzania, South Africa, Fiji, India, Romania, Egypt, DRC, Mozambique, and Lesotho.
For more on Kenyan inventions follow this link
Water Powered Engine
Engineer Jeremia Sundire,a Bachelor of Science degree in Agro-engineering from the University of Zimbabwe, invented a hydro engine powered by water & GOTn recognised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo) and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (Aripo). The invented the water-powered engine can generate electricity for domestic use using between 40 and 60 litres of water.
A Zimbabwean has also developed a mobile phone handsets brand called G-Telecoms (GTel) though its manufactured in China. Ironically, it has no presence in Zimbabwe. In Africa its present in Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique and Kenya.
The brains behind this is Apostle Dr. Kwadwo Safo, owner of the Kantanka Group of Companies. He is naturally gifted. A genius. An inventor and a philanthropist. He has no formal or sophisticated technical background. He imagines, dreams and creates at will. He lives in his own world. The non-engine vehicle does not rely on a combustion engine to move, but an electric motor powered by rechargeable batteries. The batteries can be recharged with solar energy or electricity. As you drive the car on the road, it converts the energy from the sun into mechanical energy which powers the car.
Air Powered-Power Generating Equipment
While the world is skewed towards otherwise dangerous alternatives such as nuclear energy to generate power, Africa leads in eco-friendly alternatives, using water, urine, and air. A Ghanaian, Mr Freddie Green, has invented a power-generating equipment that produces electricity using compressed air. The inventor, a former Aircraft Engineer with the Ghana Air Force, has made other notable inventions and was nominated for the Black Inventors Award in 1988 and the Toshiba Year of Invention Award in 1989. He explained that his device could generate energy at a cheaper cost to meet domestic energy requirements such as energy source for cooking and lighting and powering air conditioners and computers. His system as he said is also capable of powering cars, boats and light aircraft, thereby eliminating the use of burning fuel. “With the conventional electric cars, batteries must be recharged at approximately 25 to 30 miles while this system does not need any battery recharging,” he explained. Apostle Dr. Kwadwo Safo is also currently building what might, be if successful, the first African chopper.
Alpesh Patel, a Ugandan-born entrepreneur, served as director of sales in Africa for Motorola before quitting the American telecommunications giant to launch Mi-Fone, the first African mobile phone brand. Mi-Fone was launched in April 2008, and the company produces mobile phones for the mass market, ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ African consumer. The company manufactures affordable, innovative handsets.
The Mauritius-headquartered tech company has footprints in 17 countries in Africa today and sold over 1.5 million handsets across Africa. Patel recently announced plans to build a $30 million manufacturing facility in Nigeria. It’s also interesting to note that this might have been a Ugandan device were it not for Idd Amin regime which ordered Asians out of the country.