Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter

Exposed: The Untold Stories of the 11 African Inventors Who Changed the World

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

Share your love

When well-known inventions are mentioned, they are mostly mentioned alongside inventors of non-African descent but then there are African inventors whose innovations have changed the course of history far and wide but most of these African innovators remain unknown.

While most people are familiar with well-known inventions like cars,there are breakthrough contributions from the African continent which span various fields, including medicine and energy.

Today, we will showcase a collection of inventions stemming from the ingenuity of 11 African innovators.

These inventions range from fiber optics for high-speed internet to the first Human-To-Human Heart Transplant.

Dr. Thomas Mensah- Inventor of Fiber Optic for Internet Speed

Dr. Thomas Mensah: Picture Source- LinkedIn

The first African inventor on our list is Dr. Thomas Mensah, a Ghanaian-American chemical engineer and inventor,

who co-invented Fiber Optics for High-Speed Internet, contributing to the development of fiber-optics and nanotechnology.

His work is the reason we can share pictures, tweets, and other media on social platforms like Instagram, and TikTok. Without his invention, the internet’s fiber optics would not be what it is today.

Despite the massive impact, his name is not as widely recognized as his non-African colleagues.

Most Africans or those with African ancestry don’t know him, but this African innovator has enabled high-speed internet globally.

Furthermore, Dr. Mensah also played a key role in the US Army’s dominance in laser-guided missiles.

While researchers previously failed to develop fiber optics below the attenuation limit of 20 decibels per kilometer at a manufacturing rate higher than 2 meters per second,

he improved the process, reaching 20 meters by 1985, making optical fiber cost-competitive with traditional copper cables. In 1985, the African inventor received the Corning Glassworks Outstanding Contributor Award.

Also, Dr. Mensah’s invention raised the manufacturing speed above 50 meters per second, marking a breakthrough for the industry.

Then, his work made the United States a global leader in internet technology, benefiting Fortune 500 companies generating trillions of dollars.

All in All, he led a program for the US Department of Defense to develop the first laser-guided weapons, now used across military platforms, including drones.

In 2015, Dr. Mensah was inducted into the US National Academy of Inventors.

Seyi Oyesola- Inventor of Hospital-in-a-Box

Dr. Seyi Oyesola: Picture Source- Instagram

Secondly, we will talk about another African inventor on our list who worked hard to enhance healthcare delivery in hospitals.

Seyi Oyseola is a Nigerian doctor who invented a portable solution known as the “Hospital-in-a-Box.”.

This self-powered handheld hospital operates off the grid and uses wireless technology, enabling doctors to conduct medical examinations worldwide.

Also, the box includes medical devices such as a spirometer, electrocardiogram, nebulizer, temperature cuff, pulse oximetry, and a wireless transmitter.

It can be powered by solar energy, AC or DC battery, or vehicular power.

Christiaan Barnard- First Human To Human Heart Transplant Operation

In 1967, Christiaan Barnard and team achieved the first human-to-human heart transplant, changing medical history on December 3rd.

Louis Washkansky, a 53-year-old grocer, received a heart transplant from Denise Darval, a 25-year-old car accident victim.

Although Trained in Cape Town and the U.S., this African inventor performed the groundbreaking human-to-human heart transplant, a historical feat..

The technique, developed in the 1950s by American researchers, had never been applied to humans until Christiaan Barnard’s historic surgery.

Sameera Moussa- Deveoped Formula to Split the Atoms in a Copper

Dr. Sameera Moussa: Picture Source- Instagram

Sameera Moussa was a committed nuclear physicist who devoted her life to making atomic radiation accessible for medical purposes.

Her legacy shapes discussions on recognizing Arab women’s contributions, as she prepared the world for a nuclear medicine revolution.

Throughout her career, the African inventor achieved several significant milestones in her country.

Achieving significant milestones, she became Egypt’s first female nuclear physicist and the first woman with a doctorate in nuclear radiation.

Consequently, Moussa’s groundbreaking formula to split copper atoms marked a breakthrough, revolutionizing the affordability and safety of nuclear medicine.

Her Achievements:

Notably, the African innovator organized a conference advocating for atomic energy, urging countries worldwide to support and regulate nuclear power.

As one of the first participants in the Fulbright program, Moussa received a grant in 1951 to conduct research in the United States.

Despite controversies, her impressive resume secured access to state secret research centers for nuclear technology.

However, she declined the offer of citizenship. Since her passing, her home country has invested significantly in nuclear technology’s development.

Marc Arthur- Inventor of first Made-in-Africa medical tab

Dr. Marc Arthur: Picture source-LinkedIn

Another noteworthy invention in the field of medicine is the Cardio Pad, a medical tablet created by Marc Arthur, a 24-year-old Cameroonian. The Cardio Pad is a touchscreen medical device that facilitates cardiac examinations, including the electrocardiogram, in remote rural regions.

The test results can be wirelessly transmitted to professionals who can interpret them. This technology eliminates the necessity for African patients in distant areas to travel to urban hospitals for medical checks.

Undoubtedly, The African innovator developed the Cardio Pad to address the challenges faced by healthcare workers in rural areas who lacked adequate equipment.

Overall, his innovative solution allows for more accessible and efficient healthcare services in remote regions.

Rachid Yazami – Lithium Ion Batteries

Rachid Yazami: Picture Source-Instagram

Another African inventor, Rachid is a Moroccan physicist who achieved a groundbreaking development in electrochemical cells in 1980 by discovering the reversible intercalation of lithium into graphite.

The initial breakthrough paved the way for the invention of the Lithium graphite anode, now widely used in commercial lithium-ion batteries.

In 1979–1980, the African inventor invented the lithium graphite anode, now a key component in commercial Li-ion batteries.

Also, He holds inventorship on over 70 patents in the field of battery technology, covering various aspects such as nano-Si- and nano-Ge-based anodes for ultra-high-rate charge lithium batteries, the lithium-carbon fluoride battery for space and medical applications, and more recently, liquid anodes.

Overall, His contributions extend to coauthoring over 250 papers on batteries, their materials, and systems.

Allan Cormack- The CAT Scanner

Alan Cormack: Picture Source- Instagram

A significant medical invention originating from Africa is the CAT scan, developed by Alan Cormack, a South African physicist.

In 1978, the African innovator and his colleague Geoffrey Hounsfield were awarded the Nobel Prize for their pioneering work on Computer Axial Tomography (CAT) scans.

Cormack is credited with providing the mathematical technique for CAT scanning, a process that involves the use of X-rays and electronic devices rotating around the body to produce images.

These images can then be analyzed by a computer for medical diagnosis. This remarkable machine has revolutionized the capabilities of diagnostic medical imaging.

Bisi Ezerioha- SOHC Honda Engines

Bisi Ezerioha: Picture Source-LinkedIn

Without the contributions of Nigerian innovator Bisi, some of Honda’s most powerful aspirated single overhead camshaft engines would not exist.

Bisi, a renowned racing driver, engine builder, engineer, and entrepreneur, is credited for the development of Honda engines like the D16A6, D15B7, F22A, F18A, and D16C6 through his work at Bismoto Engineering.

This engineering invention has expanded to include turbocharged Hondas and Porsches, including the Porsche 911. Bisi Ezerioha’s accomplishments have gained global recognition in the car industry.

In 2018, Bisi Ezerioha achieved another milestone by building his first performance electric vehicle. The recent Porsche Cars North America 935 is a culmination of his experiences and education from electric vehicle builds.

Mark Shuttleworth- Encrypted E-Commerce

The next African innovator we feature is Mark Shuttlewood, who, in his final year of college in 1999, founded a full online consultancy firm.

This company achieved a significant milestone by being the first to develop commercially viable, fully security-encrypted web servers outside of the United States. It later evolved into one of the world’s fastest-growing internet certification authorities before being acquired by Verisign. This accomplishment put South Africa on the digital map.

In 2001, the African inventor Shuttlewood made headlines by purchasing a $20 million seat on a Russian spacecraft and initiating the first African in Space project, launching the first African into space.

Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu-NASA’S Insight Aeronautics Developer

Dr Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu: Picture source-instagram

A spacecraft from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) successfully landed on Mars, with plans to study the planet’s underworld, listen to Mars’ quakes, and gather insights into its formation, as reported by the New York Times.

While this achievement is often hailed as an American conquest, the heart of the remarkable Mars landing is the work of Ghanaian engineer Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu, who serves as the team lead inside NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Dr. Trebi-Ollennu has been instrumental in building robotic components for planetary operations, a passion that originated during his childhood in Ghana. His responsibilities include overseeing insight missions, robotic arms, and heads.

With a tenure at NASA dating back to 1999, he has risen through the ranks to become the chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Sandile Ngcobo- Digital Laser

Sandile Ngcobo is a South African scientist from the University of Quad Zulu Natal who made a significant breakthrough in digital laser technology during his Ph.D. research.

He worked on the world’s first laser for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research at the National Research Center, and through his inventions opened new avenues in revolutionary communications, medicine, manufacturing, and other fields.

His research team highlighted that laser beams can now be digitally redirected from a laser device to various applications worldwide.

South Africa’s unique focus on holograms in one of the few labs who globally played a crucial role in this groundbreaking development.

Ngcobo was able to begin cultivating the gadget with the assistance of his supervisor. 

Share your love
Peremoboere Numa
Peremoboere Numa

Pere is a versatile SEO writer with a Master's degree in English, who is dedicated to creating engaging and impactful content.

She excels in weaving content that not only informs, enlightens and impacts but but also optimize its online presence to rank on major web sites.

Pere brings a unique blend of linguistic proficiency and SEO knowledge, ensuring that each piece she crafts leave a lasting impact.

Articles: 77

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter

Stay informed and not overwhelmed, subscribe now!