Inventions of the Year 2021

  • A collage of some of the innovations by Kenyans.
    A collage of some of the innovations by Kenyans.
    Kenyans.co.ke
  • "Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity-not a threat," Steve Jobs.

    These words from the co-founder of the world's leading tech company, Apple, served as an inspiration to many Kenyans who sought to make a difference in the country.

    Despite access to capital being a key challenge for young innovators in Kenya, resilience, zeal and the passion to succeed have always been their source of motivation. 

    Kenyans.co.ke identified some of the top innovations by Kenyans in 2021:

    Students from Kenyatta University and their supervisor pose for a photo with samples of the KU Cube Nano Satellite at the Chandarana Innovation Hub.
    Students from Kenyatta University and their supervisor pose for a photo with samples of the KU Cube Nano Satellite at the KU Chandarana Innovation Hub.
    Kenyatta University

    KU CUBE

    Kenya joined leading world economies in the quest for space exploration in 2021. While world billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos physically went to space, a team of students from Kenyatta University put Kenya at an advanced  position with their innovation.

    In a room at the Chandarana innovation center within the institution, the students invented Kenya's first nano--4wernwev5bsatellite- the KU Cube. ]

    The KU-Cube is an artificial satellite which, according to the National Space Agency (NASA), will have objects launched to space for the purpose of collecting information or enabling communication.

    Measuring 10cm by 10cm , the  cube was launched  in August 2021, roughly 200 kilometers above sea level. Among the components is a low resolution camera and an enclosed communication system used to transmit collected data to and from the space station.

    Orbiting around the earth in 98.77 minutes, it will be navigating at speeds of 28,000 kilometers per hour. The KU Cube will be collecting information that will enable Kenya to predict factors including agricultural disasters such as the locust invasion.

    The size of the satellite is attributed to the high costs of sending objects to space- Ksh1 million a kilo. The project is being funded by the Kenya Space Agency.

    Bio-Robotic Arm

    In December 2020, two Kenyans, David Gathu and Moses Kinyua launched a bio-robotic arm. 

    Made from recycled metal, the prosthetic arm was developed to provide an alternative to physically challenged Kenyans.

    The arm is part of a gear that comprises a brain-computer interface (BMI) attached to the head and a vest-like structure.

    Speaking during an interview, Gathu stated that the robot, which acts like a prosthetic arm, works by detecting and interpreting electric signals from the brain and converting them into action.

    “By just thinking of an action, a user can operate a vehicle, switch on and off the lights as well as operate a computer,” Gathu stated.

    Gathu and Kinyua revealed that they sourced their materials from dump sites and various dealers and it took them nearly five years to complete its development.

    The innovation by the two university dropouts put Kenya on the international map in 2021.

    David Gathu demonstrates how the robotic arm works .
    David Gathu demonstrates how the robotic arm works .
    K24

    Electronic Motorbikes

    In 2021, Kenya renewed its action against global warming with emphasis pegged on using clean energy. The new push would majorly be witnessed in the automotive industry to cut emissions from vehicles running on petrol and diesel.

    While electric cars are slowly gaining popularity in the country, players in the bodaboda industry set out to manufacture electric motorbikes.

    The  move was boosted by a partnership between the United Kingdom and Kenyan companies that would see the latter receive funding to manufacture the motorbikes.

    Local assemblers Opibus, Arc Ride, Ecobodaa, Mazi Mobility, Fika and Kiri EV, in partnership with Uber and E-Safiri were part of the pilot programme. Opibus  announced that it would also be launching its high end electric motor bike  in the country.

    Kenyan Made USB Cables

    In August, the images of packaged mobile phone charging cables made rounds on various social media platforms after being shared by Kirinyaga Woman Rep, Ngirici, prompting the question 'why?'.

    It was later established that the cables were made in Kenya by a company run by  Anthony Muthungu.  Muthungu revealed that he had established his company, TOTOSCI Ltd in 2020 after completing his undergraduate degree in electrical and electronic engineering.

    He noted that for the longest time, he had been a victim of buying substandard USB cables, prompting him to start his own company.

    "I also note that it’s a challenge with everyone, therefore I saw the need to manufacture quality cables,” Muthungu stated.

    Electric Matatus 

    On November 2, BasiGo, an e-mobility startup headquartered in Nairobi, officially announced its entry into the Kenyan market.

    The company sought to cause disruption in the public industry by offering cleaner, more  affordable and more sustainable public transport. The company would manufacture buses, 25 and 36 seater electric buses.

    On full charge, the buses have the capacity to travel 250 kilometers. The buses will be built locally, creating jobs for the youth in the country. 

    Another company, Opibus, also tapped into the electric motor business. However, they would not be manufacturing buses from scratch.

    The firm will major in converting matatus that use petrol or diesel to electricity-powered vehicles. Opibus envisioned generic electric energy which is stored in the car battery and later used to power the vehicle

    An illustration of an electric bus used by BasiGo.
    An illustration of an electric bus by BasiGo.
    BasiGo