As Africa passes more than a million confirmed Covid-19 cases, innovators on the continent have responded to the challenges of the pandemic with a wide range of creative inventions. Here are 10 we’ve picked out.
1. Doctor Car robot : Students from the Dakar Polytechnic School in Senegal have built a multifunctional robot designed to lower the risk of Covid-19 contamination from patients to caregivers. The device is equipped with cameras and is remotely controlled via an app. The designers say it can move around the rooms of quarantined patients to take their temperatures and deliver drugs and food.
2. Automatic hand-washing machine : Nine-year-old Kenyan schoolboy Stephen Wamukota invented a wooden hand-washing machine to help curb the spread of coronavirus. The machine allows users to tip a bucket of water to wash their hands by using a foot pedal. This helps users avoid touching surfaces to reduce the risk of infection. Stephen was given a presidential award in June.
3. The Respire-19 portable ventilator : Amid a shortage of ventilators on Covid-19 wards in Nigeria, 20-year-old engineering student Usman Dalhatu attempted to help meet the shortfall. Dalhatu built the portable automatic ventilator to help people with respiratory problems – often a symptom of a severe coronavirus infection. He now plans to build up to 20 ventilators.
4. 3D mask printing : Natalie Raphil is the founder of Artificial Intelligence company Robots Can Think South Africa. She’s using 3D printers to produce 100 masks a day for use in some of Johannesburg’s major hospitals. South Africa accounts for around half of all reported coronavirus cases in Africa.
5. Solar-powered hand-washing sink : Amid a lockdown in Ghana aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, shoemaker Richard Kwarteng and his brother Jude Osei decided to design a solar-powered hand-washing basin. When hands come into contact with a sensor on the device, soapy water is automatically released. An alarm goes off after 25 seconds of hand-washing – within the timescale recommended by the World Health Organization.
6. Web-based X-ray lung scans : Engineers in Tunisia have created an online platform that scans lung X-rays to try to determine if a person could be suffering from coronavirus. When an X-ray is uploaded onto the platform, it runs a test to detect signs of a possible coronavirus infection. Researchers at the National Institute of Applied Science and Technology in Tunis say the tool is 90% effective in indicating the probability of infection. The platform is still in development, but thousands of lung X-rays have been fed into the system to enable it to recognise the impact of Covid-19 on lungs.