Dr Ernest Simo, a Cameroonian, pioneered the development of some leading information communication technologies in the world today. These are the Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) that he developed together with Hughes Network Systems of USA in 1983, and work in the Low Earth Orbiting satellite system (LEOs) and Personal Communications Services (PCS) fields. He also pioneered the Code Division Multiple Access technology used in cell phones throughout the Americas and Asia, competing with the GSM used in Europe and Africa, and is now working on third generation wireless systems and All-IP based Wireless Networks.
The African continent has recently pioneered groundbreaking innovations and inventions. Arthur Zang, a Cameroonian engineer, invented a cardiopad, a medical tablet. The cardiopad enables heart examinations to be carried out remotely and is a first in African and global tele-medicine. Ivorian Yapi N’chor Didier was described as “a living god of IT” by an American IT expert because of his revolutionary IT devices such as the Mystery Mouse 7, a smart multi-use mouse, and what could ultimately help reduce piracy, the DVD Dead Cryptor. A US-based Zambian student, Patrick Kwete, developed medical software called ExpatCare, which is useful in providing personalised medicine to take into account side-effects and possible complications before administering medicine.
In South Africa, Ludwick Marishane developed an anti-germicidal lotion which when applied on the skin allows one to be cleaned without water. Marishane’s DryBath has applications in long-distance travel and military endeavours, and won him the 2011 Global Student Entrepreneur Award.
An Ethiopian scientist based in the US, Sossina Haile, is the developer of a reactor that mimics plant life in making fuel from water and carbon dioxide in sunlight, thus promising a renewable energy source. The Togolese Dr Victor Agbegnenou patented in 2004, the Polyvalent Wireless Communication System, a kind of fibre optics in the air, a communication system that promises to narrow the digital divide and reduce the cost of high speed internet, telephony and television.
Bertil Nahum, developer of the Rosa and Brigit medical robots, was recently voted the world’s fourth most revolutionary entrepreneur after three Americans, namely Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerburg and David Cameron.
In DRCongo, Therese Inza, an engineer and president of an association of female inventors, developed a solar-powered humanoid Robocop that merges the role of human traffic officers and traffic lights to control traffic in Kinshasa and can also speak and report traffic offenders.
Verone Mankou (pictured, left) is a Congolese engineer and entrepreneur who designed the first African iPad, and the Way-C touchpad, as well as the Elikia smartphone. Other ICT innovators in Africa include Saheed Adepoju of Encipher Limited, responsible for developing Inye-1 and 2 tablet computers. Dr Ndubuisi Ekekwe holds a US patent on a micro-chip used in minimally invasive surgical robots and has other patents pending.
The list of African inventors is growing worldwide. The website www.kumatoo.com has an impressive list of African scientists and inventors and is continually being updated.
*Andrew Ose Phiri is an architect and author of African Scientific Legacy, downloadable at www.afrikrafts-zambia.comBooks/AfricanScientificLegacy.