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Amazing science and tech news from Africa

At the PEI, we are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest science and tech innovations on and for the continent. Here’s our pick of some amazing developments in Africa to keep an eye on in 2018.

1) Malaria diagnosis breath test in development

A study conducted in Malawi has revealed that people infected with malaria give off a unique ‘breath-print’. With results showing that some odorants in a breath print could attract mosquitoes, the research suggests that new breath tests could be developed to diagnose malaria. This is the first step towards the development of a non-invasive diagnostic procedure. According to the WHO, in 2016, Africa accounted for 90% of malaria cases worldwide.

2) A biocontrol technology is helping to reduce crop contamination

A biocontrol technology has been developed to control aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnuts in Tanzania, where over $264 million is lost annually due to poisoning. The technology, AflasafeTZ, was trialled in the field for two years, where it reduced this contamination of food crops by over 85%. Nine other African countries including Burundi, Malawi, and Mozambique are in the process of developing country-specific strains of the fungi to help control the problem.

3) A mobile phone app will be used to diagnose crop diseases

A team under the CGIAR’s Roots, Tubers and Bananas has received a grant of $US100,000 to scale an app that uses artificial intelligence to diagnose crop diseases in the field. Created to stop the spread of cassava brown streak and mosaic diseases, the app will help millions of African smallholder farmers accurately diagnose diseases, and send text messages to workers in rural locations. The grant will allow researchers to expand the app for other root, tuber and banana crops that are vital sources of food and income security across the continent.

4) Automated weather stations in Ethiopia will help fight climate shocks

To help combat increasing climate variability among lowland communities in Ethiopia, a Farm Africa project is installing automated weather stations (AWS). By providing reliable climate data, the AWSs will help over 178,620 herders and vulnerable residents respond better to climate shocks. As a result, this information will help guide preventative decisions, such as when to destock cattle or alter water conservation measures. So far, a total of 25 solar-powered AWSs have been installed around the country.

 

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