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technological InnovationsTechnology has the ability to change the way the world works and assist people currently living in poverty. Developing countries are often plagued by issues in sanitation as well as energy and medicine shortages that can hinder their economic security. Listed below are 4 new technological innovations that have the potential to reduce the effects of these issues and reduce poverty.

4 Technological Innovations That Can Reduce Poverty

  1. Sewage-free sanitation systems: There are roughly 2.6 billion people in the world without access to proper sanitation infrastructure. Some of the countries most affected by poverty, including India, Kenya and Pakistan, have millions of people living without proper sanitation systems. Without these systems, human waste is improperly disposed of into lakes and rivers, which can lead to health problems in the local population. Issues resulting from improper sanitation kill an estimated 1.4 million children each year. Researchers at Duke University, the University of Florida and Biomass Controls have been developing an energy efficient toilet that does not require a sewer system to operate. These toilets look like ordinary toilets. As of now, several different prototypes have been developed. One prototype, developed at the University of Florida, is able to filter out pollutants. Another prototype, developed by Biomass Controls, is able to heat waste and transform it into a carbon-rich material that can be used as fertilizer.
  2. Advanced fusion and fission reactors: New forms of nuclear power are expected to become available in the coming decades that will be both safer and cheaper than current nuclear power sources. Approximately 1.3 billion people live without access to energy. Energy poverty is unique because it is both a cause and a consequence of economic poverty. New nuclear designs that could help alleviate the issue of energy poverty include generation IV nuclear fission reactors, small modular reactors and fission reactors. Two companies, Terrestrial Energy and Terraworks, are hoping to use generation IV fission designs for grid supply in the 2020s. Small modular reactors are cost effective and reduce safety and environmental risks. While fission reactors seem to be a long way off, there has been some progress and they will be less controversial for public use since they create less long term waste and are safer than current nuclear sources.
  3. Blood testing for premature birth: Premature birth is a healthcare problem that disproportionately affects the developing world, particularly countries in Asia and Africa. Premature birth is linked to numerous health problems in newborns including increased risk of cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and respiratory illnesses. Recent blood tests are now analyzing RNA instead of DNA, and scientists have identified seven genes linked to premature birth. This discovery of the genes related to premature birth could lead to future treatments for the problem.
  4. New desalination tech: Water scarcity is a huge problem that is linked to poverty. It is estimated that one in nine people (844 million) lack proper access to safe, clean water. Over the past few decades, scientists have developed a new method called desalination to turn saltwater into consumable fresh water. This process, however, is very expensive and requires a high amount of energy. New technology uses reverse osmosis for desalination. This process is not new, but instead of being powered by a battery, the new technology can be powered by solar energy, which is significantly more cost-efficient.

New technology has the potential to address many of the issues relating to poverty. Issues including energy, health and sanitation have long afflicted those in poverty and have hindered efforts to alleviate economic impoverishment. New technological innovations that are being developed today have the potential to be vital tools for reducing economic poverty in the future.

-Randall Costa

Photo: Flickr

most innovative countries in AfricaInnovation seems impossible to quantify, but the business world has found a way to rank countries based on various forms of data considered to indicate innovation. Innovation indexes can vary, but the 2017 Cornell University Global Innovation Index takes a unique approach to calculating innovation, based on 81 indicators with a focus on human welfare, technological or creative outputs, infrastructure and business sophistication.

10 Most Innovative Countries in Africa

  1. Burkina Faso
    Burkina Faso has focused its innovation on agriculture, with farmers learning how to organize themselves and share new farming practices. The country’s farming innovation has been channeled into poverty reduction.
  2. Malawi
    Malawi has had some interesting innovators, such as William Kankwamba, who created a windmill for power out of locally collected supplies. Malawi’s government still accepts help from varying organizations, including UNICEF, to improve innovations in mobile phone technology and medical care.
  3. Mozambique
    Mozambique has struggled with giving all its citizens access to clean water, as well as with HIV infection and infant mortality rates. However, these struggles have caused the country to look to business opportunities for solutions, leading to innovations in sectors such as tourism, health, education, and natural resources.
  4. Rwanda
    A country known for its civil war and genocide in the past has become one of the most improved countries in innovation index rankings. Rwanda is becoming a central point for information technology and has launched a 4G LTE network, helping to facilitate job growth and economic improvement.
  5. Kenya
    It is no wonder Kenya made the list, as it is becoming well known for its information technology development, thus acquiring the nickname “Africa’s Silicon Valley”. Also prominent are some of its innovators’ more interesting inventions, such as putting a charger in your shoes to charge your phone on the run or connecting an alarm to a TV to deter burglars.
  6. Botswana
    With one of the continent’s most stable governments and economies, and its support of startups, research and even global corporations, it is no surprise that Botswana makes the list of the 10 most innovative countries in Africa. This support and encouragement of growth has created an atmosphere for technology innovation to grow.
  7. Senegal
    Senegal has been known for its business practices and innovation in agriculture, paper and research. However, its growth has not been as substantial as some would have liked, leading to Plan Sénégal Emergent, a plan put in place by the government to bring the country to the forefront of West African economies by 2035 and putting it in the world’s sights.
  8. Seychelles
    Seychelles is one of the newer countries on the list of the 10 most innovative countries in Africa, appearing for the first time in 2014. This is significant because it is the third sub-Saharan African country to rank in the upper half of the Global Innovation Index.
  9. South Africa
    Of these countries on this list, South Africa makes the news the most in regards to its innovative capacity. The main limiting factor for the country has been its inability to maintain and grow innovative thinkers, many of whom are lost to emigration to the U.S. and the U.K. If this trend can be reversed, the country would see a strong change in the tide as it moves up the innovation list.
  10. Mauritius
    Mauritius tops the list of the 10 most innovative countries in Africa and has been in the top half of the index since 2011. It has the advantages of being a tourist destination and maintaining stability. The government has also put a focus on innovation by investing in research into job and wealth creation.

These countries utilize their stability and market-oriented economy to foster innovation. Many find that democratic countries have a higher likelihood of increasing and maintaining their innovation. While Africa still has work to do in comparison to other regions, it is making headway and moving forward.

– Natasha Komen

Photo: Flickr

https://www.flickr.com/photos/magnumppi/38484906775/in/photolist-21CMcZr-TgU1uE-RxNWbP-gkdW7q-sa5LVn-dJzokZ-pabckr-Vh1U5g-UhZrX6-TfWdoR-ei1iWe-RmwaAU-TBJyTd-c44j6Q-qtGCL6-oWuA2x-qwPvqS-U964us-SY4Nu4-22C8TUw-rjM2aJ-h1bHnB-9s88dG-ebeTs9-9zb6Wc-rn4NyK-PU85gp-qKaLku-jEhYAf-fh1RhG-LY5Rwc-9zBnJC-h9ZxJp-pi9TMR-WbAs4Y-cobF47-UQHaoK-21k3RP2-7Gj4Ap-owwBnd-Pvspiw-GtcC1T-X7fCmZ-RutCcq-QQaakB-YvVZwZ-paQKEd-DCurLt-KYdLi5-Y4V1qtDrones oftentimes conjure images of airstrikes, collateral damage, unmanned surveillance or indiscriminate killing machines controlled remotely. But what if the focus was on how life-saving drones could drop medical supplies in far-flung locations? How can the reaction shift to the ways emergency supplies can be airdropped into some of the world’s most unnavigable locations in a matter of minutes? Enter Zipline.

Insufficient Roads

Zipline is a San Francisco-based company revolutionizing the way urgent medical supplies are being delivered in Rwanda. Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is one of the continent’s smallest countries with a population of almost 12 million people. Despite its size, Rwanda’s poorly-paved roads, seasonal flooding and impassable mountains make it tremendously difficult to travel extensively and efficiently.

Rwanda’s small population and lack of easily-accessible roads make the country a suitable candidate for these life-saving drones. Rough terrain and road mobility are in fact one of the main reasons why approximately two billion people in rural Africa do not have sufficient access to vital medical supplies, according to the World Health Organization.

Keller Rinaudo, CEO of Zipline, has devised a way to improve access to urgent supplies by using drones that fly over the country’s rough terrain and deliver goods to remote locations. Affordable and efficient, Zipline accomplishes in less than hour what would have traditionally taken a day. Each individual drone, known as a “zip,” has a 6-foot wingspan, can reach top speeds of 70 mph and can carry up to 1.5 kilograms of blood on a single flight. Between October 2016 and August 2017, Zipline completed “1,400 commercial flights and delivered 2,600 units of blood, a quarter of which were for emergency services.”

Expansion

Zipline is expanding further into Africa, beginning delivery services in Tanzania and launching pilot projects elsewhere in Haiti and Papua New Guinea. Beginning in early 2018, the Tanzanian government has expressed its goal of completing 2,000 daily deliveries and establishing the world’s most expansive drone delivery service.

Zipline is also having an impact in Europe. Its life-saving drones have begun delivering supplies between two hospitals in Lugano, Switzerland, with the hope of further expansion in Zurich and Bern.

Accessibility

Professionals using Zipline can order supplies from their mobile phones and can receive their order within 30 minutes. During this time, the Zipline delivery system follows five simple steps:

  1. Zipline receives a text message—or a WhatsApp—by a health worker far away for a medical product they need right away.
  2. Zipline retrieves the product from its distribution center and prepares for take-off.
  3. Within minutes, a confirmation message is sent to the health worker to let them know their order is on its way.
  4. Pilotless, the drone delivers the products gently by parachute at a faster rate than any other mode of transportation. Hospital employees are notified of the delivery via SMS.
  5. The drone returns safely to the distribution center before departing again for its next delivery.

In a 2016 interview with the BBC, Rinaudo explained that flying these life-saving drones is less expensive than the previous delivery method: motorcycles and trucks.

The use of Zipline’s life-saving drones will hopefully continue to expand in providing essential Amazon-esque packages to remote places around the globe.

– Johnny Harounoff

Photo: Flickr