APET launches three reports on emerging technologies

20 June 2018, 07:31

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The African Union (AU) High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET), of which Prof Roseanne Diab is a member, recently held its third meeting in Kigali, strategically aligning it with the African Innovation Summit, 6 to 8 June 2018, so as to launch three recently completed reports.

The first, titled ‘Drones on the Horizon: Transforming Africa’s Agriculture’, acknowledges that agriculture is the basis for well-being and poverty reduction in Africa and the potential of drone technology to transform the sector. In the context of precision agriculture, drones equipped with appropriate sensors can produce information on crop growth, parasites, moisture etc., resulting in a more accurate and effective farm management system. The reduction in cost, size and complexity of drones and associated sensors, and the increasing technological abilities of African youth favour the adoption of drone technology for precision agriculture.

The second report on ‘Gene Drives for Malaria Control and Elimination in Africa’ makes the case for gene drives to be considered as an additional intervention to achieve the AU target for malaria elimination by 2030. Up to 90% of all malaria cases are in sub-Saharan Africa. Gene drives have the potential to control insect vectors by altering genes in two ways: firstly, by reducing population size through the production of only male progenies; or, by population alteration in which the insect is prevented from spreading a parasite. Further research into gene drive technology in Africa is recommended.

Noting that Africa is the least electrified continent with close to 70% of the population, predominantly in rural areas having no access to electricity, the panel recommended the deployment of micro-grids to take advantage of Africa’s abundant renewable energy sources. The third report titled ‘Micro-grids: Empowering Communities and Enabling Transformation in Africa’ offers many opportunities for leapfrogging; the use of renewable energy resources allows for flexibility and resilience in infrastructure design and scale and micro-grids are less capital intensive than grid expansion. Declining costs of energy storage and renewable energy technologies make micro-grids even more cost effective.

The reports are available via the following links:
1. Drones on the Horizon – Transforming Africa’s Agriculture (Eng)

2. Gene Drives for Malaria Control and Elimination in Africa (Eng)

3. Micro-Grids – Empowering Communities and Enabling Transformation in Africa (Eng)

The panel will now proceed to address the next set of emerging technologies that were initially identified. They are: Next Generation Batteries, Precision Medicine, Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, Water Purification and Synthetic Biology.