SA second most innovative country in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Johannesburg, 5 October 2015 - South Africa is the second most innovative country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thats according to the Global Innovation Index. South African science and innovation have been making waves on the global stage for decades.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the CSIR, South Africa’s leader in scientific and technology research and development. To learn more about the ground-breaking South African innovations of the past 70 years and the future of research, check out our sponsored feature at enca.com/CSIR70


JOHANNESBURG - South Africa is the second most innovative country in Sub-Saharan Africa - that’s according to the Global Innovation Index.

South African science and innovation have been making waves on the world stage for decades and we are showcasing some local inventions that have left their mark on the world. 

South Africa boasts a long history, rich with intrepid inventors and one of our earliest inventions was the life-saving CAT scan.

Created by British engineer Godfrey Hounsfield and South African physicist Allan Cormack, the CAT scan rotates X-ray and electronic detectors over the body, while a sophisticated computer system reads the scan to detect tissue abnormalities, like cancers.

The duo won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1979 for the invention.

Staying with medical innovation, Cape Town based paediatrician Dave Woods and a team from Freeplay Energy created the world’s first Power-Free Foetal Heart Monitor.

This hand-held device powered by solar, battery and wind-up power, takes an ultrasound of the unborn baby, measures its heart rate and detects if it’s in distress.

The monitor is especially life-saving in rural areas where women have limited access to medical equipment.

South Africa is also responsible for the revolutionary Lithium Ion Battery. Today it is used in countless devices, from watches, to cell phones and laptops.

Redesigned by Michael Thackeray in 1977, the South African battery used locally abundant minerals, making it cheaper and safer to produce.

Another brilliant South Africa’s innovation is the dolos. Invented by engineer Eric Merrifield in 1963, the dolos solved a global problem by helping to protect coastlines from erosion caused by breaking waves.

First used on the East London breakwater, the dolos took a unique spin on the widely-used, but ineffective, international approach.

And then there is the Cybertracker. Inspired by the knowledge the San people use to track and hunt game, Louis Liebenberg created a handheld GPS device
that records important San-based tracking information as a series of icons.

Since the San cannot read or write the, symbols helped them track game with more accuracy.

Another well-travelled invention that’s been all the way to the moon, is local favourite Pratley Putty, created by George Pratley in the early 1960s.

Used on NASA’s Ranger Moon Project in 1967, it&39;s still one of the most powerful adhesives in the world, even used to repair a crack in San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

And last but not least, there is the Kreepy Krauly.

Engineer Ferdinand Chauvier wanted to kibosh all the physical labour that went into swimming pool maintenance, so in 1974 he developed a machine that would suck up all that dirt automatically.

South Africa is actually credited with dozens of cutting edge breakthroughs, and local science and technology is still breaking boundaries and redefining the limits of global innovation.