Mamaope jacket invention. Photograph: Brett Eloff/The Royal Academy of Engineering

2017! we hope to see and expect much more this year, ranging from innovation, to tech, to fintech, and so forth. Earlier this week, we mentioned one innovation that was carried out by a Ugandan graduate – Brian Turyabagye, who has [and his team] come up with a biomedical smart jacket that will tackle misdiagnosis of pneumonia. His innovation/invention has been seen trending online since the start of this year. However, a side from Brian’s invention, BBC News Africa has listed down five [Brian’s Invention inclusive] of Africa’s Invention to look forward to this year.

All the inventions listed below are all interesting, if all are put into consideration, Africa will been seen somewhere this year.

An electricity grid for the whole village – [Use’s Steamaco Tech]
Problem: According to Yale Environment 360, a total of 1.3 billion people worldwide currently don’t have electricity. Getting people in rural areas on to the national grid is proving too difficult and traditional solar panels generate meagre amounts of energy.

Solution: Steamaco makes solar and battery micro-grids which can work for a whole village. They are small electricity generation and distribution systems that operate independently of larger grids.

How it works: Steamaco’s technology automates the regulation of electricity. So, if the system detects there will be a surge in demand for electricity, it will automatically send a text to all customers on the grid saying that the electricity in houses is about to be cut off so that the hospital can keep on going.

A jacket that detects pneumonia – [Mamaope Jacket]
Problem: According to reports by UNICEF, pneumonia kills half a million children under five in sub-Saharan Africa every year, with the region accounting for half of all global deaths from pneumonia of children under five. Most of these cases are due to pneumonia being misdiagnosed as malaria.

Solution: Ugandan graduate engineer Brian Turyabagye has designed a biomedical “smart jacket” to quickly and accurately diagnose pneumonia. The Mamaope jacket measures a sick child’s temperature and breathing rate. It can diagnose pneumonia three to four times faster than a doctor and eliminates most possibility for human error.

How it works: A modified stethoscope is put in a vest. It is linked to a mobile phone app that records the audio of the patient’s chest. Analysis of that audio can detect lung crackles and can lead to preliminary diagnoses.

A tablet to monitor your heart – [Cardio Pad]
Problem: It is difficult for people in rural areas to travel to the cities to see heart specialists. There are just 50 cardiologists in Cameroon, which has a population of 20 million people.

Solution: Arthur Zang invented the Cardio Pad – a handheld medical computer tablet which healthcare workers in rural areas use to send the results of cardiac tests to specialists via a mobile phone connection.

How it works: Cardiopads are distributed to hospitals and clinics in Cameroon free of charge, and patients pay $29 (roughly 72,200 UGX) yearly subscriptions. It takes a digitized reading of the patient’s heart function. In a few seconds the results of a heart test are sent to a specialist clinic in the capital.

Hair inspiration app – [Tress]
Problem: A lack of accurate information about how to achieve certain hairstyles and where to find a high-quality stylist.

Solution: Three software engineers – Priscilla Hazel, Esther Olatunde and Cassandra Sarfo – invented Tress, an app to share ideas about hairstyles.

How it works: It is described by Okay Africa as a kind of Pinterest or Instagram for hair. Once you have downloaded the app, you can follow other people who are sharing their hairstyle. You can search specifically by place, price range and the type of hairstyle your want, from relaxed hair to cornrow.

You can then scroll until your heart’s content through people who have uploaded pictures of themselves with that style, tell them how much you like their style, ask how long it took, and even arrange to meet up with someone to style your hair.

A currency for paying online workers – [BitPesa]
Problem: There are online workers, specifically web developers, in Africa who people outside the continent would like to employ but it is difficult or prohibitively expensive to get their wages to them. Some don’t have passports, and so don’t have bank accounts either.

Solution: Bitpesa uses Bitcoin to significantly lower the time and cost of remittances and business payments to and from sub-Saharan Africa.

How it works: Bitpesa uses the crypto-currency bitcoin as a medium to transfer cash across borders. Bitcoin is a system of digitally created and traded tokens and people keep their tokens in online wallets.
It then takes the Bitcoin tokens and exchanges them into money in mobile money wallets – a popular way of paying for things in places like Kenya and Tanzania.

BitPesa is already used to pay online workers – a company called Tunga is using it as a way of getting wages from clients abroad to web developers in Uganda.