Inventive Africa usually writes about clever innovations created by entrepreneurs that make a difference in Africa. Startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses are the bedrock of African development. The more investment in African innovation, the more jobs will be created and the quicker African economies will diversify away form relying on commodities. At the moment, many parts of the continent still require support from charities and NGO’s. The goal must be, of course, to shift reliance away from aid, to economies that can support themselves. Until then, there needs to be support of charities and aid agencies that support those in need in Africa.
If aid agencies and charities are to be relied on, then there must be technology and innovations that enable them to deliver their support more efficiently, and also develop their strategy to make the most impact. This is exactly what the 2nd annual Aid & International Development Forum, Africa Summit 2017, in Nairobi will focus on. Beginning the 28th February 2017, the summit will bring together over 300 representatives from governments, UN agencies, NGO’s donors and the private sector, to discuss the latest trends in humanitarian logistics, health innovations, good practices for building resilient infrastructure and assisting displaced people, a topic that is more and more important in today’s climate, as well as better use of data and ICT technology. Tech and innovation is an underlying factor that runs through all these themes.
Innovations built by entrepreneurs and not necessarily aimed at the aid industry, can increase the productivity and efficiency of all types of organisations. Education organisations can utilise tech like the BRCK, which offers educational tablets, and has its own local server, and therefore does not need to be always connected to the internet. There are also many other educational technology, that could be harnessed by charities to spread their message to their target audience.
In the health sector, there are also many innovations that could be harnessed by aid agencies in order to provide greater medical assistance to more that need it. The increasing influence of mobile technology in Africa is enabling health care to be provided remotely. With eye care able to be processed using mobile phone cameras, and portable heart rate monitors, as well as centralised medical systems that can be updated remotely, quality specialist health care can be conducted from anywhere, whether in remote rural areas, or in refugee camps.
At this years Aid & Development Summit, a number of innovative solutions will be show cased. We have chosen a couple of our favourites that we think will have a big impact.
The heat in Africa makes storage of anything very difficult. Fridges are needed, and reliable power is needed to power the fridges. This is especially so for medical supplies such as blood and vaccines. B Medical Systems and Dulas both offer innovative solar solutions that do not rely on grid power to store medical equipment. These solutions are shipped to Africa from the UK and support the refrigeration of medical supplies across the continent. They have integrated batteries, and can therefore maintain the cooling when the sun is not shining.
Even though mobile phone networks are spreading wider and wider, many parts of the continent still receive limited coverage. This is a hinderance to aid agencies who in cases of emergency need to have constantly open channels of communication. This is where Talia come in. They are specialists in satellite, voice, video, secure data communications, and technology procurement across Africa, enabling aid agencies and even journalists to communicate securely from remote regions or Africa.
Logistics in many parts of Africa can be very difficult. Road networks are not reliable, and during extreme weather conditions, some areas are completely inaccessible. Zipline have recently started operations in Rwanda with their drone delivery service, but this is not available anywhere else in the world currently. Air Serv International have been providing last mile air deliveries, providing food, water, emergency medical care and shelter to the millions, since 1984, during the crisis in Ethiopia.
If the event is anything like the first Summit last year, it will be a great success. For further information please visit their website. If you know want to be a guest blogger, have an innovation or innovation event you would like featured on Inventive Africa please get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica or email, and please also share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook