Kenya startups lead in 2019 Airbus challenge

Saturday January 19 2019

drone

A drone monitors an Irish potato crop in a farm in Rwanda’s Northern Province. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

MICHAEL WAKABI
By MICHAEL WAKABI
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Proposals to use drones to support humanitarian operations, use remote sensors and a computer application to transmit environmental data, and help businesses and homes to use water more efficiently, won Kenyan startups three of the 10 berths in the 2019 edition of Airbus’s #Africa4Future programme.

It is a global business accelerator programme that is jointly run by Airbus and the German Agency for International Co-operation (GIZ).

The competition seeks to identify African entrepreneurs using innovative aerospace-based solutions to tackle challenges in transportation, agriculture and healthcare.

The 10 successful startups were picked from 314 entries from 19 African countries for the challenge last October.

The three Kenyan startups were Astral Aerial, Lentera Ltd and MobiTech Water Solutions.

Astral Aerial proposed to use drones to support transport of supplies in humanitarian operations while Lentera Ltd proposed to use remote sensors to monitor and transmit environmental data for more efficient and smarter farming. MobiTech Water Solutions developed an online real-time water monitoring solution that allows homes, businesses and water-service providers to manage available water resources more efficiently using an app-based dashboard and instant messaging.

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Other winners were Cote d’Ivoire Drone, which proposes to start local manufacturing of drones, and Ethiopia’s Maisha ICT Tech, which also wants to employ locally built drones in the delivery of medical supplies to isolated rural communities.

Other successful pitches came from Mali’s Map Action, which has developed an online solution that provides real-time mapping for urban authorities to help identify problems with water supply, hygiene and sanitation.

Elemental Numerics from South Africa applies computational fluid dynamics to the design of a range of products ranging from aircraft parts to heart valves.

Malawi’s MamaBird developed a platform that can help governments and humanitarian organisations deliver essential lifesaving supplies to affected communities.

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