At the rate of development across the world, some inventions are just no longer useful in keeping with the times. A quick instance would be battery operated fans which are practically useless in places where developments in electricity would render them irrelevant.
Of course, in most countries in Africa, battery operated fans would still be a big deal because electricity supply on the continent is still below acceptable levels.
To beat the heat that is so commonplace in Africa due to the tropical climate, battery operated fans would be necessary to fight oppressive levels of heat when light is not available to power appliances like air conditioners.
Battery operated fans are just one in a list of numerous inventions which would only be of importance in some countries in Africa and other developing parts of the world.
Here are some other inventions like battery operated fans that Africans can’t ignore;
The Hippo Water Roller
Africa faces a number of challenges that affect public health, one of the main ones being inability to access clean, safe drinking water. The WHO (2006) stated that, in 2004, only 16% of people in sub-Saharan Africa had access to drinking water through a household connection (an indoor tap or a tap in the yard).
Some households in some places in Africa are forced to walk long distances, balancing heavy loads of water on the head and because children are often involved in this activity, they tend to miss out on educational and economic opportunities.
The Hippo Water Roller helps to an extent. It is a drum that can be rolled on the ground, making it easier or anyone who cannot access taps to haul large amounts of water faster.
Portable Water Pumps
Still on the issue of access to water, another area that suffers is farming. Only 6% of Africa’s cultivated land is irrigated and that limits the amount of crops that can be grown out of season, thereby limiting our ability to solve food security issues.
Portable irrigation technology helps African farmers grow crops out of season. Companies are making these portable water pumps available to farming communities across Africa, most notably in Kenya, Tanzania and Mali. They cost anything from $3 to $95.
This particular African invention has been widely praised and for good reason. The computer tablet diagnoses heart disease in rural households that have limited access to medical services.
It was designed by 24-year old Cameroonian engineer, Arthur Zang, and works by collecting signals generated by the rhythimic contraction and expansion of the patients heart. It then produces a moving graphical depiction of the cardiac cycle which is wirelessly sent to the mobile phone of a cardiologist for interpretation and diagnosis.
Alternatives to charcoal stoves and firewood
In some parts of rural Africa, charcoal stoves and firewood are still employed in cooking; the UN actually estimates that it is still used in 80% of African homes as a cheaper option to gas. Unfortunately, this comes at a great cost. For one, forests in Africa are being cut down at a rate of 4m hectares a year; almost twice the worldwide average rate.
There is also the fact that smoke from cooking with these solid fuels triggers respiratory problems. For this reasons, there is a need for an in between option that surmounts the problem of the financial cost of gas and the physical costs of using charcoal and firewood.
A number of inventions have risen in Africa to address these problems.
The Wonderbag: Is a revolutionary slow-cooker; it is a large non-electric bag that provides insulation to a cooking pot, retaining heat and allows food that has been brought to a boil, to continue cooking after it has been removed from the fuel source.
Non-tree fuel: Development of bamboo firewood and charcoal as an alternative to timber charcoal in Ghana and Ethiopia. Bamboo grows quickly and cutting it down does not contribute to deforestation. There are also stoves that use local renewable biomass as its raw material. One company in Mozambique uses clean burning cookstoves fueled by ethanol derived from cassava.
Solar Solutions: In Mogadishu and Borama, Somalia, people are starting to take advantage of solar energy instead of using charcoal to cook food and heat water. “Sun Fire Cookin”” developed a solar cooker that is made of several mirrored panels set together to look like a satellite dish.
The panels focus sunlight at the center of the appliance, enabling it to heat a cooking pot or an oven. The solar cookers, which are as fast as a gas or electric stove because of the size of the parabolic mirrors, can produce heat up to 200°C and can be used to prepare all types of foods.