African options to the coronavirus disaster

The BBC's Antonia Howard tests out a hands-free, foot-operated tap in Sierra Leone
Image caption The BBC’s Antonia Howard exams out a hands-free, foot-operated faucet in Sierra Leone

The African continent hasn’t been as badly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic as different nations on the earth thus far, however new circumstances are on the rise and governments have launched social distancing measures.

And whereas the pandemic is unhealthy for enterprise, some African entrepreneurs have stepped as much as be a part of the answer and are seeing new alternatives.

Frequent and thorough washing of fingers with cleaning soap and heat water is without doubt one of the only methods of stopping the unfold of infectious ailments.

But in response to Water Aid, 4 in 10 folks all over the world don’t have any entry to primary hand washing amenities.

One of the methods wherein the coronavirus is unfold is by way of contaminated surfaces. Getting into the behavior of normal hand washing can stop infections, however the virus can nonetheless unfold as folks have a tendency to the touch the faucet and different issues round them.

In a metropolis like Freetown in Sierra Leone, a inhabitants of two million folks has a water provide capability which ideally must be utilized by not more than 800,000 folks, in response to worldwide growth consultancy agency IMC Worldwide.

Water is already scarce, and now hand washing is essential.

To remedy this drawback, one enterprise has developed a transportable hands-free faucet unit that’s now being positioned outdoors outlets, banks and authorities buildings.

Image caption Finic in Sierra Leone normally specialises in manufacturing agriculture processing gear

The Fomel Industry and National Industrialization Centre (FINIC) normally specialises in manufacturing agriculture processing gear and different machines.

But now the agency, based by Melvin Foday Kamara, is manufacturing a transportable freestanding hands-free faucet that’s operated by stepping on pedals to entry cleaning soap and water on demand.

Access to scrub water

Clean operating water can also be briefly provide in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, the place residents informed the BBC they’re now washing their fingers with washing up liquid, as they can not afford to purchase hand sanitiser.

“In the area where I live, running water is very scarce, so we actually have to have buckets of water so that it’s easy for us to wash our hands,” Wadzanayi Musasa explains.

“When we get home from the shops, we take off our gloves, we use dish washing liquid to wash our hands and someone will hold a jug of water [to rinse them].”

Image caption Clean City distributing water to Harare’s neighbourhoods to assist hand washing

Waste administration and clear water supplier Clean City is now distributing water round Harare’s residential and business areas in tank vans, in order that residents can gather additional buckets of water to make sure hygiene requirements are preserved by way of the lockdown.

The firm began in 2018, in response to 2 cholera epidemics that hit Zimbabwe in 2008 and 2018. The agency says it realised that one thing needed to be achieved to forestall the unfold of infectious ailments.

Compared to folks living in richer nations, folks in growing nations are extra negatively impacted by waste that is not managed correctly, which places each human well being and the surroundings in danger.

More than 90% of waste in growing nations goes to dumpsites, in response to knowledge from the United Nations Environment Programme.

Every day, Clean City additionally presents fumigation and decontamination companies throughout Harare, which could be ordered utilizing a cell app.

“We’re basically driven by two principles – digital first and people first,” says Clean City’s chief govt Lovemore Nyatsine.

“Everything is contactless. Our crews follow very clear processes to keep our clients and themselves safe.”

3D printed masks

One instance of an trade stepping up because of the pandemic is the 3D printing group – tech companies, universities and 3D print lovers with their very own printers are responding to the scarcity of healthcare staff’ private protecting gear (PPE) – and in some circumstances extra complicated hospital medical provides – by making it themselves.

Image caption Mayamiko Nkoloma designing a masks utilizing CAD software program

Malawi has been experiencing extreme shortages of PPE through the coronavirus lockdown.

The shortages are resulting from prices of procuring the gear, in addition to disruption brought on by the pandemic to international provide chains.

Blantyre-based tech agency iMoSyS is one such firm that’s now utilizing its 3D printers and laptop assisted design (CAD) software program to design reusable face masks and face shields for healthcare staff.

Typically the agency focuses on offering IT and engineering companies to allow the distant monitoring of commercial processes, infrastructure and sufferers’ well being.

Entrepreneur Mayamiko Nkoloma, chief govt of iMoSyS, says his agency has obtained quite a few requests from throughout the African continent, but additionally from abroad nations together with the UK.

“Anything is possible. We started with nothing but ideas, and we took our ideas to industries and pitched them to solve challenges,” he tells the BBC.

Image caption Melvin Foday Kamara, enterprise entrepreneur and founding father of Finic

Despite the myriad challenges introduced by the pandemic, to say nothing of the looming recession as soon as lockdown measures are finally lifted, some companies really feel making an attempt instances are when actual development and alter is feasible.

“As bad as the coronavirus is, it has provided the opportunity for many leaders in business and in governance to have a rethink,” says Mr Karama of Finic in Sierra Leone.

“It is important that we leverage innovation…it is important that Africa learns to innovate, to monetise [and] not to import everything.”