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7 tech companies changing Africa for the under 35

Technology is changing Africa. Fast. It opens up new possibilities, experiences and solutions that previously did not exist. By the time the youthfulness of our generation gives way to our first wrinkles, we will inhabit a continent we cannot yet imagine.

Innovative companies are changing the Africa we know. Technology is putting a big dent into our universe by addressing major challenges like poverty, financial exclusion, unequal health-care quality and education.

Here is our quick overview of 7 companies using tech to upgrade Africa into the 21st century:

1) WorldRemit (fintech, remittance)

Fintech - the merging of finance and technology - is super hot right now. The financial industry and the remittance industry are long overdue to be disrupted.  They need to be upgraded into the 21st century. A visionary entrepreneur from Somalia, Dr. Ismail Ahmed, is doing that with his company WorldRemit.

WorldRemit allows you to send money online fast, safe and secure anytime and anywhere as long as you are connected to the internet. The company is offering a low-cost alternative to sending money to Africa -currently, the most expensive region globally to send money to.

The average cost is close to 10% of the remitted amount. By bringing the transaction costs down significantly, WorldRemit ensures that the receiver gets more money which can be invested in food, education or medicine. For low-income households across the continent, this makes a big positive difference.

Another important innovation is that by offering transfers to Mobile Money services and airtime top-ups, WorldRemit is also helping the world's 2 billion unbanked people get access to financial services for the first time through their phone.

We often use World Remit to do international payments ourselves. We can highly recommend this fast, safe and efficient solution.

2) eHealth Africa

eHealth Africa has set their sight on delivering better healthcare solutions to vulnerable communities in 4 countries of West Africa:  Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. They have designed an electronic health solution that manages patient information, streamlines clinical procedures, and provides data and analysis on health program outcomes.

The video below explains eHealths innovative approach to Vaccine delivery to prevent the occurrence of vaccine stock-outs. Through smart data eHealth has been able to reduce stockouts by 60%.

In contrast to other health management information systems, eHealth focuses specifically on providing solutions and services that can function in areas that have little to no power, a dusty, hot, and humid environment and can be run by health care workers with limited technical knowledge

As an NGO eHealth Africa's main source of funding is donors.

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3) Matternet

Matternet is pioneering drones to play an important role in disaster relief, safely delivering drugs, bandages and other supplies to hazardous and hard to reach areas. Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) as they are often called, are flying devices without a human pilot on board.

Matternet employs eight-propeller drones that carry 2kg worth of medical goods and travel 10km in good weather. The system consists of three parts delivering the medical goods: the UAVs themselves, landing stations where packages can be dropped off and transferred, and the software that ensures vehicles get securely from point to point.

These flying robots lead to many significant improvements in African healthcare. In sub-Saharan Africa, 85% of roads are inaccessible during the wet season, cutting off huge parts of the population and hindering the transport of medical supplies. 

For patients living in hard-to-reach rural areas across Africa, drones could be life-saving especially in emergency situations. Delivery of medical supplies via drones can save a lot of critical time. 

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Matternet believes that the new system will leapfrog the building of infrastructure, in the same way mobile networks have overtaken fixed lines in poorly connected countries. 

The potential for drones to create a positive impact across the continent is huge. If you are as excited about this technology as we are, then you can read our in- depth article on how drones will change Africa.

4) Peek Vision

Can you imagine what it is like not to see? To know that you are losing your eyesight? This is clearly a terrifying thought that would give most people nightmares.

285 million people are visually impaired. 246 million have low vision. 39 million people are blind. According to the World Health Organization this is the reality that millions of people face globally. Every day.

90% of the world's visually impaired live in low-income settings. Here is the kicker: 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured. Existing eye care tools are expensive, difficult to use and access. Those tools have been designed for a hospital setting.

This is where Peek Vision comes in. Peek is a portable eye examination kit that uses apps and simple adapters which mobilize the eye clinic. With Peek one optomologist or health-care professional can go to a rural or hard-to-reach area where they can perform high-quality eye examinations.

The great thing about Peek vision is that all that is required is a smartphone. With this, they can produce high-quality retinal images from the phone.  It is as easy as taking a photo.

The high image quality allows health-care professionals to view cataracts clearly enough for treatment classification, detect signs of glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and signs of nerve disease. Other health problems such as severe high blood pressure and diabetes can also be identified with a good view of the retina.

Peek is a British company that is working on making their solution available globally. The company is working with partners to help distribute Peek at low cost in places like Kenya, Botswana, Tanzania and Mali.

5) Monetas

Monetas is another fintech company revolutionizing the financial industry and working on creating financial inclusion for the 2 billion people that remain unbanked today. The Monetas platform is an advanced crypto-transaction technology that uses a cryptographically secured digital notary to enable all kinds of financial and legal transactions, public or private, worldwide.

The video below gives you an introduction to this incredibly innovative technology that monetas uses and how it will transform everything from payments, contracts and insurance.

Monetas was founded by South African Johann Gevers and the company has launched in Tunisia in October 2015. They entered a partnership with  the Tunisian Post Office, La Poste Tunisienne, and Tunisian technology startup DigitUs.  By powering Tunisia’s national financial infrastructure with Monetas technology, La Poste Tunisienne will offer its clients nationwide access to instant, secure, and affordable merchant payments, remittances, and more.

Should the introduction of the monetas platform to Tunisia turn out to be a success you can be sure that the company will roll out its services to other parts of our continent.  Stay tuned.

6) Ubongo (education)

In many countries, children struggle with mathematics, and many perform poorly in the subject. Mathematics and science scores are often lower than other school subjects.

A major challenge in education worldwide is the crucial difference between understanding information and simply memorizing it. Often a teacher puts information on a board. The student then memorizes the information without understanding what it really means.

In Tanzania, this challenge is exacerbated. The national language is Swahili. English only gets introduced in secondary school where it immediately becomes the primary instruction language. The consequence is that  students now face two challenges simultaneously: Understanding mathematics while learning English.

Meet Ubongo from Tanzania. They are a social enterprise that creates locally relevant interactive edutainment for kids in Africa, using the technologies kids already have. 

Kids can access the educational content on different platforms—not just online. By distributing content across TV, radio, mobile, and broadband networks, Ubongo aims to address local problems implicit in the Tanzanian education system.

For example, ubongo kids is an interactive edu-cartoon that teaches math and science through fun animated stories and catchy original songs.

Have a look at the video below to get a better grasp of this amazing company and how they are using technology to improve educational opportunities for students in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Ghana.

Ubongo is an exciting company that is designing innovative solutions to educational challenges in Africa. We are so excited about companies like this, because as Nelson Mandela famously remarked "education is the most powerful weapon to change the world". 

Education capacitates our people, nurtures our talents, shapes our knowledge and informs our outlooks and beliefs in life. The destiny of our continent is shaped by the greatness of our people. And the greatness of our people is shaped by our education. 

That is why companies like Ubongo are so inspirational.

7) Accur8Africa

Africa has abundant data. For the data to be valuable to policy-makers, government, civil society and business it needs to be accurate and organised. Accur8Africa aims to be the leading platform assisting the accuracy of data throughout the continent. 

Donors, governments and international institutions rely on accurate data on basic development metrics such as inflation, vaccination coverage, and school enrolment. They need this information to accurately plan, budget and evaluate their activities. Governments, citizens, and civil society can then use this data as a “currency” for accountability.

If we aim to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the next fifteen years, accurate data is an essential necessity. To highlight the depth of the problem of data accuracy on our continent, consider the widely circulated outcome of a recent survey.

The survey reported that "89% of Zambian women overwhelmingly support domestic violence and corporate punishment."

Amid much uproar, this dubious statistic had to be corrected.

acur8africa

Accur8Africa is building the statistical capacity of institutions across the continent. They are encouraging the use of data-driven decisions alongside better development metrics for key sectors such as gender equality, climate change, equity and social inclusion and health.

Data is valuable to policymakers, government, civil society and other stakeholders only if it is accurate. Instead of focusing on collecting more data reliable and accurate data needs to be collected. Accur8data does this by training data champions and data scientists on how to collect, to analyse and to disseminate data.

Accur8Africa recognizes that in an increasingly knowledge-driven economy accurate information forms the lifeblood of that economy. That is why nothing less than a data revolution is required now from national consensus to African Economic Outlooks.

Conclusion

It is clear that we are living in interesting times. When the majority of the continent's current population of 1.13 billion (65% of the population are under 35) will start to retire in 30 - 40 years from now, the Africa we will inhabit will be radically different from the one in the days when we went to school. 

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. We are interested to hear your views on where you think the biggest change will happen in the coming decades.

About the Author Rise Africa Rise

Rise Africa Rise is your online guide to tech entrepreneurship and (social) innovation for African entrepreneurs, startups and businesses. Our aim is to provide you with valuable digital strategies, tools and insights to support you in building a world-class and competitive business in the 21st century.

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