Africa is well practiced at taking innovative models from around the word and adapting them for the African setting. Blockchain technology is being used in a number of African solutions, such as the opportunity to invest in solar energy in South Africa. Crowdfunding is also blossoming across Africa, enabling small businesses to receive micro loans and grow. Another model, which has found a home in Africa is the Uber model (or AirBnB model). Uber has become a popular service in many countries throughout the continent, and has encouraged competition in the transport sector, with Little in particular making big moves in Kenya and beyond.
But the Uber model, of creating a way of supplying people with what they need through an app, has found its way into to other industries. In South Africa, where there is massive unemployment, people are able to access tradesmen and women and people to work in their houses through an app. And there is even an app and website to help people find space in shipping containers to ship their items over sees. This model is helping businesses grow, and easing the strain on certain aspects of the life of an individual.
South Africa has really seemed to quickly understand how such a model can be utilised effectively. In a place where unemployment is high, there are also a lot of buildings with empty office space. Empty space costs money, but there are many people out there looking for a place to work. In a society with many people working on their own businesses and startups, often there are not suitable places to sit down and work, or have meetings. There are the tech hubs and startup spaces, but often they are also not suitable or have no place available.
Airbase makes this possible by enabling individuals to search working spaces close to them while on the move. Whether you need a hot desk, private office, conference room, auditorium, meeting room or training facility, it is possible to book immediately on in preparation for a future need. It is as simple loading up the app, searching for the location and booking it. It is the perfect solution for those that do not need office space all the time, and also enables companies to monetise empty space. With 11% vacancy rate in South Africa, there is a lot of space to be utilised.
During my time in Ghana, I had a terrible experience when I saw one lady slip and fall into a gutter at the side of the road. She had horrific injuries to her leg, which was not only bleeding very heavily, but sodden with the dirty water from the gutter. People ran to her aid, and one even decided the best option was to poor paraffin on the wound, assumedly to sterilise it. I decided that maybe wasn’t the best option, and offered to take her to hospital. If this had happened in the UK, I would have called for an ambulance, but in this instance, the thought didn’t even cross my mind. The ambulances I had seen within the country were used on a Friday afternoon to transport the dead to their funerals! And I wasn’t even sure what number I should call.
The only option was to hope that a taxi driver would stop and take us. The first two saw the blood and drove off. The third accepted, asked that we please be careful with the blood and took us to the nearest hospital free of charge. (He was really a lovely man and refused point blank to take anything for the journey).
There are many that find themselves in life threatening situations across the continent, that do not have access to emergency transportation. Namola offers exactly that, and not only for ambulances, but all emergency situations. With a touch of a button, you can be in contact with the police, fire service or ambulance. When you press the button, and select which type of emergency service is requested, the operator will be able to see exactly where you are located, and contact you to talk you through the process.
The response time is cut down and the trained operator will be on hand to talk those needing emergency response through the situation. An especially good feature is that people can write to the operator via SMS. This could be used in emergencies in which they are not able to speak, for example during a house break in.
In the case of the woman in Ghana, I am happy to say she made a full recovery, and was able to leave the hospital to her home the day after. With immediate access to the emergency services, she would have had treatment much sooner, and would have been at less risk of major blood loss. The Namola app, which is currently only available in South Africa is free to download here, and join over 100,000 other users!
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