Thursday 25th May marks Africa Day, which officially commemorates the formation of the Organisation for African Unity in 1963, now the African Union. However, Africa Day is also an opportunity to celebrate the best and brightest of Africa, and especially the science and technology pioneers working to create real impact on the continent. In no particular, here is our pick of five science and tech dynamos whose big ideas are helping to drive sustainable development in Africa.
1) Professor Kelly Chibale, Founder and Director, H3D, University of Cape Town
Zambian born scientist, Professor Kelly Chibale, is both creating scientific innovations with the potential to save millions of life across Africa, and training the next generation of the continent’s research leaders. In 2010, he founded H3D, a drug discovery centre that aims to equip African scientists with skills and competences in the relevant areas of drug discovery. This year, Professor Chibale and his team at H3D discovered MMV048, an antimalarial compound, which could block all life stages of the malaria parasite. The PEI is delighted to welcome Professor Chibale as one of our keynote speakers at our #ScienceAfrica UnConference, which will take place on 20th July. You can register to attend here.
2) Bernice Dapaah, Founder and CEO, Ghana Bamboo Bikes
Aghast at the high rates of unemployment in her home country, Ghanaian entrepreneur, Bernice Dapaah, decided to take action. With little support, she created Ghana Bamboo Bikes, a social enterprise that teaches young people to manufacture and assemble bamboo bikes. So far, the organisation has created 35 jobs: 25 bike builders and 10 farmers, as well as providing capacity building for skilled and unskilled youth. Furthermore, Ghana Bamboo Bikes’ bikes are organic and sustainable, requiring significantly less electricity to produce compared to conventional metal bikes. And this year the organisation will expand its impact through the establishment of two new factories at Ntrotroso and Afrisipa in Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. We look forward to hearing more!
3) Ndubuisi Ekekwe, Founder, Zenvus
Increasingly, African entrepreneurs are creating products with the aim of helping small-scale farmers improve yields. Nigerian entrepreneur, Ndubuisi Ekekwe, is a great example of this. His precision farming start-up, Zenvus, measures and analyses soil data such as temperature and nutrients to assist farmers in using the best fertilisers and irrigation methods on their farms. As a result, Zenvus’ analytics-driven approach enhances farm productivity and reduces input waste. A truly worthwhile initiative!
4) Jacques de Vos, CEO, Mezzanine Ware
With one doctor for every 1,000 people and five nurses for every doctor, South Africa has a severe shortage of health workers. As a result, many people, who are in the greatest need of healthcare, cannot access services in a timely fashion. The smartphone based health app, AitaHealth, was created in response to this problem. Created by South African native, Jacques de Vos, the app trains community health workers who offer counselling and preventive home treatment. Furthermore, in collaboration with the country’s largest telecoms operator, Vodafone, AitaHealth transfers information about infections to the government. Given our Spotlight Seminar on the Future of Public Health in Africa on 4th July, we look forward to learning more about the impact AitaHealth achieves.
5) Marcel Steinberg, Founder and CEO, Clean Energy Africa, and Nazier Marthinus
South African entrepreneurs, Marcel Steinberg and Nazier Marthinus, deserve recognition for their support of innovative approaches to waste management and the production of renewable energy. They are shareholders in a company, New Horizons Energy, which uses the latest technology to transform non-hazardous local and household waste into environmentally sustainable products such as biomethane and liquefied CO2. What’s more, one of New Energy’s plants in Cape Tow naims to consume 560 tons of solid waste per day. A truly amazing way to enhancing access to electricity!