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The latest, greatest scientific & technological developments in Africa

At the PEI, we’re passionate about raising awareness of the latest and most impactful scientific and technological innovations on the continent. Here’s our pick of four of the most exciting recent developments.

1) South African nanosatellites bound for launch at international space station

The PEI strongly believes that investment in space science and technology is an important enabler for sustainable development in Africa. As such, we were delighted to hear that two South African built nanosatellites feature among a group of 28 nanosatellites, which will be sent into space next week, as part of the QB50 project funded by the European Union and managed by the von Karman Institute. Launched on a rocket bound for the International Space Station, the satellites will be dispersed to undertake research on the Earth’s atmosphere over a period of 18 months. The data collected from this experiment will be used to enhance current models of the atmosphere, especially those that apply to spacecraft re-entry trajectories. We look forward to hearing more about the results of this project.

2) Kenya starts selling bonds via mobile phones

On 23rd March, Kenya became the first country to issue government bonds via mobile phones, without users requiring access to bank accounts. Named m-Akiba (after the Swahili word for savings), the bond pays an estimated interest of 10% and aims to allow lower-income citizens to invest in the capital markets. What’s more, M-Akiba will provide the Kenyan government with a new source of money that it plans to use to finance large infrastructure projects. This is an inspiring use of mobile technology to disrupt financial services, and provide the finance needed to plug the infrastructure investment gap in Africa.

3) Drone technology facilitates data collection for crop breeding in Africa

Initial findings of a project undertaken by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center show that using drone technology could reduce the need for labour and costs spent in collecting data for maize breeding by at least 10%. In fact, plant breeders are using drones to gather accurate data from the fields, which will be used to enhance maize breeding in Southern Africa. Yet another example of a technological innovation being used to enhance agriculture in African countries!

4) Using chairs and soap to stop deadly mosquito bites and diseases

Known as the ‘deadliest creature on earth’, the mosquito causes millions of deaths every year from diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. As a result, Fredros Okumu, director of the of science at the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, is working to fit a wide range of goods with a specially created fabric coated with mosquito repellent, which has shown protection for up to six months. What’s more, Okumu plans to capture mosquitoes that have been diverted in a landing box, which imitates human smells to attract the insects. In this way, the specially treated goods and landing box protect anyone using them, as well as the wider community. An incredible innovation!

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