I learnt a lot editing this and it’s always a pleasure having a guest on. Hope you enjoy it - Chuma.
I’m Wamboga, a tyro technology analyst based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Something that’s been on my mind
As per WHO data, there are more than 1 billion people, approximately 15% of earth’s humans, with a disability. This includes those who have impairments (problems in body structures or functions) and activity limitations (difficulties encountered by an individual in executing tasks or functions). Without conclusive data, it is estimated that between 80 million to 100 million Africans fall into this category.
Inevitably, disabled people in poorer communities bear greater burdens than those in wealthier ones. In lower income countries, children incapacitated in one way or another are less likely to attend school or access healthcare.
Compared likelihoods of children attending school in three developing countries. Source: UNESCO.
On the supply side, they are hindered by limited access to learning materials, transport options, lack of proper amenities et cetera. In Kenya, for instance, the majority of the schools for the disabled have ageing infrastructure and limited capacity. Integrated schools, like my alma mater, Nakuru High School, have made little progress with this minority forming less than 1% of the total. The demand side also has its limits, most notably stigma and attitudinal barriers, family resources and lack of welfare provisions.
The precarious positions of these lives are further called to vision by the fact that African governments are spending less every year on promoting access to public amenities.
Just like the majority of the sectors of life in countries with limited public investment, entrepreneurs all over the continent are making attempts at making better the lives of Africa’s largest minority. Then again, how does one sustainably price non-consumed essential services for populations with almost nil incomes?
Things I enjoyed reading
Ethiopia’s obsession with damming their rivers for hydroelectric power has deep ramifications both in Eastern and Northern Africa. While the Omo river dams will almost obviously destroy the Nile, a bigger war wages on sustainability of Egyptian life as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam begins to fill.
Tidbit: A 1959 agreement shares the Nile’s water between Egypt and Sudan.
Lakes in Kenya’s Rift Valley have experienced rising levels over the past few years and the situation seems to be getting out of hand. The role of human action leading to this problem cannot in any way be discounted with Kenya’s recent investments in geothermal power generation one of the unqualified suspects.
Lincoln Wamae is building wheelchairs powered by recycled batteries. [Kenya]
Jonga is a community alarm system for South African townships. [South Africa]
Ari is a sanitary pad dispenser built by Inteco. [Kenya]
Hope Tech + is a medical technology company that is building assistive devices that allow for visually impaired people to live full lives. Based in Nairobi, the upstart is aiming at creating solutions for visually impaired persons across the globe.
Their first product, named the Fourth Eye, uses echolocation to improve the navigation abilities of the everyday white cane. Their second product, still in development, is called the Sixth Sense, a handheld assistive mobility tool that will work independently of the cane.
Have a good month.