South Africa Innovation Facts
Global Innovation Index ranking: 61
Climate targets: Net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
Water scarcity – In 2018, Cape Town came perilously close to ‘Day Zero’ – a media-friendly term for the point at which four million city inhabitants would have been left without water. The city has since recovered from this acute crisis, and new measures have been put in place. Yet water scarcity remains a key challenge in the country. Another city, Nelson Mandela Bay, is today facing acute water shortages and risks approaching its own Day Zero.
Coal burning – South Africa is still heavily reliant on coal. According to the most recent figures from Our World in Data, South Africa gets more than 70 per cent of its total energy, and more than 80 per cent of its electricity from coal. South Africa also has the highest per capita CO2 emissions in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Power supply – In addition to its reliance on coal, the electrical grid in South Africa faces issues of reliability. The country has faced rolling power outages since 2007, and the state-owned electricity company Eskom has forecast that there could be 61 days of ‘load shedding’ (scheduled blackouts) in 2022.
- Fintech and insurtech
Source: Startup Universal
Three Exciting Innovations From South Africa
South African company Inseco has developed a range of insect-based proteins. The company uses black soldier flies—both fully grown and in the egg and larval stages—for human and animal food consumption, and as a main ingredient in a range of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. The insects are also used as a sustainable palm oil replacement. On top of this the living flies eat everything from coffee grounds and pet waste, to offal and rotting produce – reducing the amount of organic waste going to landfill. Read more.
Overwhelmed health teams can use all the help they can get. As COVID-19 cases continue to peak and trough in communities worldwide, other health problems are stacking up, creating backlogs of examinations and treatments. Medical technology company Envisionit Deep AI is using artificial intelligence to help caregivers diagnose patients more quickly. The company’s system RADIFY, is capable of reviewing x-rays, mammograms, and ultrasounds – prioritising patient cases according to probability of illness. Read more.
In South Africa, there are an estimated 5.4 million electric water heaters—known as ‘geysers’—in homes and public buildings. These geysers can drain up to 12 per cent of the operational capacity of the electricity grid at peak times. Startup Plentify is using smart technology to make electric water heaters more efficient, saving customers money, and relieving some of the burden on the electricity grid. Read more.
Words: Matthew Hempstead
18th February 2022