What happens when one person rises up above all the struggle, all the hardship, all the embedded doubt and status quo? I believe a new world is created, if not in the physical, then in minds. People begin to see possibilities, a way out of whatever box they may have been trapped in. Above the immediate good that any invention brings, above making life easier and solving necessary problems, inventors are heroes because they inspire us, show us that there’s still work to be done and opportunities to make our world better no matter how few and far between, are still within our reach. Here we showcase five African Inventors and the inventions they brought to the world.
Sam Kodo, our first African Inventor from Togo is now aged 23 and is one of the most well-known inventors of the decade. With his creation of low-cost miniature computers able to connect to the internet and generate documents, it’s really no wonder. His computers cost as low as $76 but cost about half the amount to produce. He currently has his own technology company, Infinite loop which employs six people in a rented work place and rakes in $1,048 each month. He continues to pursue his passion of building robots, the first of which he created at 19, a humanoid that is able to communicate with humans. This African inventor seeks to create a fully autonomous robot capable of performing simple tasks.
This African Inventor puts a new spin on rejection, rejected as a student by the Dire Dawa branch of the Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy because he was 1m 70cm, 1cm too short, he decided to build his own aircraft. In a journey spanning 15 years, he devoured aviation manuals and YouTube tutorials learning aspects of aircraft manufacture. Using second-hand, sometimes recycled equipment and parts, Zeferu built his first plane from the ground up, despite an initial first take-off attempt due to a broken propeller, Zeferu is still intent on continuing his test runs until he gets it right. His dream is still to become an aerospace engineer for NASA.
Whereas poverty has been known to cripple some, William Kamkwamba is cut from different cloth. He gained fame in 2002 when he built a windmill to power electrical appliances in his family house. He used materials collected from a local scrapyard, blue gum trees and bicycle parts to achieve this massive feat. All this after being forced out of school for inability to pay tuition fees and finding succor in a library where he discovered and to our delight expanded on his love for electronics. Already this African Inventor has gained international fame becoming the subject of a documentary film, William and the Windmill, which won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas and publishing his biography, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind.
Bertin Nahum is the founder and President of MedTech, he is of Beninese origin, was born in Senegal and grew up in France. MedTech is a company that specializes in surgical robotics, the first robot created under it is named BRIGIT and specialized in assistance for knee surgery, it was bought a few years later by ZIMMER Inc a giant in orthopedic surgery. With the funds, Bertin launched another project designing ROSA which he describes as a kind of GPS for the brain. ROSA has contributed to nearly 2000 successful operations, and Bertin Nahum ranks fourth place among the most revolutionary entrepreneurs of the world.
Evans Wadongo, born in the Western part of Kenya, aged 28. Having grown up in a rural village without electricity, Wadongo saw first hand the negative effects of frequent exposure of smoky kerosene lamps which very often cause eye problems. So at 19, when this African Inventor was trying his hands on a dorm experiment that involved the timing of Light-Emitting Diode, LED Christmas lights, he discovered that he could help create an environmentally friendly source of light. Involving crafts workers, Evans successfully created a solar lantern which he called MwangaBora meaning “good light”, made from 50% recycled material and widely distributed in Kenya and Malawi.
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