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5 incredible African inventions


Africans can be incredibly creative in order to help other people and make our lives better.

Here’s our list of the 5 most incredible African inventions – and many of their inventors are from pretty unassuming places too!

The list of African inventions starts at number 5.

5. Hippo Water Roller

The Hippo water roller, or Hippo roller, is a device for carrying water more easily and efficiently than traditional methods, particularly in the developing world. It consists of a barrel-shaped container which holds the water and can roll along the ground, and a handle attached to the axis of the barrel. Currently deployed in rural Africa, its simple and purpose-built nature makes it an example of appropriate technology.



4. Smartlock Safety Syringe

Safety syringes have a safety mechanism built into the syringe. The needle on a safety syringe can be detachable or permanently attached. On some models, a sheath is placed over the needle or the needle retracts into the barrel following injection to protect healthcare workers and others from accidental needlestick injuries. The importance of the safety syringe has increased; legislation requiring it or equivalents has been introduced in many nations since needlestick injuries and re-use prevention became the focus of governments and safety bodies.



3. The worlds first digital laser

African physicists built the world first digital laser. The laser could be useful for these purposes; healthcare, manufacturing and communications. But because its such a new invention, all of the purposes have not been fully thought out.




2. Thin solar cells

Solar power used to be expensive and attainable only for those with the proper resources but after Prof. Vivian Alberts created a micro-thin metallic film, that all changed. Her technology has made solar power five times cheaper than before.


1. CAT Scan

South African physicist Allan Cormack and Godfrey Hounsfield developed the CAT scan at Tufts University, securing the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.



Bonus listing


The Haya people of Tanzania have been linked to one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of all time: the invention of steel. Archaeologist Peter Schmidt discovered through a literalist combination of archaeology and oral tradition that the Haya had been forging steel for around 2000 years.

This discovery was made accidentally while Schmidt was learning about the history of the Haya via their oral tradition. He was led to a tree which was said to rest on the spot of an ancestral furnace used to forge steel. A group of elders were later tasked with the challenge of recreating the forges.

At this time they were the only ones to remember the practice, which had fallen into disuse due in part to the abundance of steel flowing into the country from foreign sources. In spite of the lack of practice the elders were able to create a furnace using mud and grass which when burned provided the carbon needed to transform the iron into steel. Later investigation of the land yielded 13 other furnaces similar in design to the re-creation set up by the elders. This process is very similar to open hearth furnace steel-making.

These furnaces were carbon-dated and were found to be as old as 2000 years. Steel of similar quality did not appear in Europe until several centuries later. (source)