There is some oddness, a sense of remoteness that comes up when technology and Africa are used in the same sentence. It is like thinking of a rainforest at the heart of the Sahara or Kalahari Desert. However, at the heart of Nairobi, Kenya, a team of software developers, engineers, and technologists are rewriting the story of Africa from remoteness and oddness to possibilities. BRCK is a device seeking to solve problems of electricity, internet connections, problems that are eminent in both rural and urban areas in Africa.
The most rapid technological advances in the last 30 years have been in the areas of the computer and the internet. Information technology can help us make Cleanleaps in many ways and we’ll track the most relevant developments here.
One evening, as Calvince Okello -the creator of M-shamba - was watching the news at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology where he studied biomechanical and processing engineering, a particular feature left him at his wits end. The Eastern part of Kenya was suffering from severe famine while the Western part had registered a bumper harvest with maize even rotting on farms. This stark contrast of pockets plenty amidst areas of serious lack was enough to push Calvince to think of a solution. He attended a lecture the following day that would set M-shamba in motion.
The efficiency of waste management is an important aspect of sustainablity - especially with the global amount of waste expected to dramatically increase over the coming decades. Mobile technology from IBM is being used for mapping and tracking waste collection, as well as reporting related data in real-time, in order to enhance related decision-making.
According to the African Development Bank (AFDB), more than 30 million Africans (about 3% of Africa’s total population) are living outside their home countries. This figure includes those living within other African countries. These African migrants send money to their families in Africa. Remittances by African migrants play an important role as a source of financing and foreign exchange for African households and countries. For Africa as a whole, remittance inflows have more than quadrupled since 1990, reached US $40 billion in 2011. This represents about 3% of Africa’s total GDP. Globally, the amount of remittances reached US $300 billion in 2010, surpassing foreign direct investments (FDI) and official development assistance (ODA) combined.
Over the past decade, the importance of money transfer flows between African countries and the rest of the world has received widespread attention from the media, governments, development agencies and the private sector. This attention, and especially the quantiﬁcation of money transfer ﬂows, has brought greater competition and the adoption of new technologies among Money Transfer Operators (MTOs). Together these factors have contributed to sharply lowering the cost of sending money.
Mobile money transactions are on the rise in Uganda, making it easy and safe for millions of Ugandans to save time as they go about their daily business. In Uganda, as in most developing countries where the reach of banking infrastructure is severely limited, this is a big deal. This is an efficient service reaching more people faster and cheaper.
Africa is rapidly upgrading its digital television infrastructure. This isn’t just about enabling more people to watch their favorite shows – it’s a big move that will help spur economic development through an improved mobile and internet communication infrastructure. As covered previously on Cleanleap, analysis shows that improved internet connectivity in Africa could lead to a $300 billion contribution to GDP by 2025.
A team of researchers, led by Samuel K. Sia, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University, has introduced a new cheap mobile microfluidic chip that can complete an immediate diagnosis of three simultaneous infectious diseases in only 15 minutes! From a single finger prick, the dongle can perform a tri-plexed immunoassay not currently existing in a single test format, the diagnosis includes: HIV antibodies, treponemal-specific antibodies for syphilis, and nontreponemal antibodiesfor an active syphilis infection.
Technology advancements tend to trickle down making life easier. Kenya has made leaps in enhancing their health service delivery to ensure their citizens benefit in the health sector. These advancements include a medley of several innovations, from developing apps, using cloud computing for data collection, to the promotion of smart phones.
Huge increases in energy demand and the quest to find low-emission energy to avoid damaging the climate has changed everything. It’s taken a while but it looks like a global transformation in energy is fully underway in the form of a roll out of solar energy. 20 years ago the problem for solar was whether the technology would work at all. 10 years ago it looked like the cost might be insurmountable. For the solar singularity to happen there are really only two major issues and they are being resolved now.