Although the continent has made significant contributions to mathematics, metallurgy, architecture, and other fields, its scientific and technological progress has often been overshadowed. Today, Africa continues to drive innovation and technology advancement, with many remarkable inventions that deserve recognition. Here are some outstanding African inventions and discoveries:
Mathematics: The origins of mathematics are deeply rooted in African prehistory. The Lebombo bone, dating back to approximately 35,000 B.C., is considered the oldest known mathematical object and was found in the Lebombo Mountains of Swaziland. In addition, ancient Egyptians developed mathematical concepts, including division, multiplication of fractions, and geometric formulas for calculating area and volume over 35,000 years ago.
CAT Scan Machine: The revolutionary CAT scan (Computerized Axial Tomography) technology was invented by South African Allan Cormack. Although initially developed in the United Kingdom, Cormack’s invention earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. The CAT scan is widely used in the medical field to obtain detailed cross-sectional images of the body.
Cybertracker: Born out of a desire to preserve traditional knowledge and tracking skills among the San people, Louis Liebenberg developed the Cybertracker software. This innovative tool allows indigenous trackers to record geo-referencing and animal behavior observations, creating job opportunities in ecotourism, anti-poaching units, wildlife monitoring, and scientific research.
Cardiopad: Cameroonian entrepreneur Marc Arthur invented the Cardiopad, the first touch screen medical tablet produced in Africa. This device is used for heart examinations, enabling electrocardiograms to be conducted in remote and inaccessible locations, providing early diagnosis for heart patients.
Quiet Cellular Antenna Technology: South African inventors Paul van Jaarsveld and Gordon Mayhew created quiet cellular antenna technology as part of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project. This technology reduces noisy cellular emissions from base stations used by cellular companies while maintaining original GSM coverage.
Charging Shoes: Kenyan inventor Anthony Mutua developed charging shoes that generate electricity as individuals walk, converting the pressure on the shoe soles into electrical energy. This innovation allows for the charging of mobile phones, particularly in areas where access to electricity is limited.
Medicine: Africa has a rich history of medical innovation, with early surgical procedures, vaccination, autopsy, limb traction, bullet removal, brain surgery, dental care, Caesarean sections, anesthesia, and more being practiced in ancient Africa long before they became common in Europe.
Kreepy Krawly: Ferdinand Chauvier from Springs, South Africa, invented the Kreepy Krauly, a swimming pool vacuum cleaner that has simplified pool cleaning, much to the delight of pool owners.
The Hippo Water Roller: Invented by Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker from South Africa, the Hippo Water Roller is a device designed to transport water more efficiently in areas with limited access to clean water sources.
Carbon Steel: The Haya people in what is now Tanzania were forging carbon steel as early as 100 AD, centuries before carbon steel was produced in Central Europe. This discovery underscores Africa’s significant contributions to metallurgy.
In addition to these, Africa’s list of inventions is extensive, ranging from heart transplants, robotic surgery, to anti-collision systems and high-tech prostheses. These innovations, past and present, reflect Africa’s rich history of scientific and technological contributions to the world.