24 year old software engineer, Frederick Oti Mensah at a workspace in Ghana’s capital, Accra showed the Africa Feeds team how his latest innovation that traces people with the coronavirus works.
The mobile app according to him does not only help health officials in proper contact tracing but users can also detect those with the virus, thereby reducing the risk of infection.
Mensah said the “app has the ability to go back in time and fetches the users location history. It compares for you and tells you this person might be in danger so go test the person.
It is a very powerful software and because of the information it collects this app is also capable of letting you know the risk level of a user.”
Oti Mensah months ago made a presentation about his innovation to senior members of Ghana’s health service after chasing them for months.
These state officials were excited about it but that was how far Oti Mensah could go. Getting a feedback and support has simply been difficult, he said.
“I met with the Ghana health service, they actually told me that it is the best contact tracing app they have seen. They told me that they were going to call me back but since then I haven’t heard from them,” Mensah lamented.
He adds that “I don’t know what to do. It is like I have hit a wall and if they don’t call you then it is like a waste of time. And I cannot sit there for a solution that I know is going to really help combat this whole pandemic issue to be out there. I have develop the app already and I don’t have anything else to lose. I want my solution to be out there and it hasn’t been easy.”
According to Oti Mensah the frustration of reject over his innovations sometimes makes him feel like giving up on his dreams but is only motivated to keep pushing to impact his society.
Oti Mensah is not alone in this predicament. Israel Kofi Bleboo is another young inventor whose solar handwashing machine to fight the spread of the coronavirus has hardly gotten the needed attention from Ghanaian officials.
“We didn’t have any support, because we take to the various places to show it to them so that we even take the step of this hygiene process but it is like we would get back to you but at the end of it you can’t just say they are not in for your help so you would just leave it out there. But we are still on it. Praying that soon things would be okay and we would get help from them,” Bleboo told Africa Feeds.
The 35-year-old Bleboo says the culture of only breaking through as a young innovator in Ghana when you have access to highly placed individuals in government is depressing.
He explained that he knows “people are very good out there have so many creativity stuff but it is like whom you know. Without that you would just be stuck where you are. When they continue to have this kind of perception of whom you know, I don’t think we can move forward. And we out there we are doing the best, the great job, the great innovation. It is not easy.”
Ghana’s Covid-19 case count has exceeded 27,000 and these innovations by these young people should help in the battle against the virus.
But the stories of Oti Mensah and Bleboo resonate across the country as many young innovators continue to struggle for a breakthrough.
Ghana’s youth unemployment rate was estimated at 13.69 percent last year. Just maybe governmental support for many young innovators could help fix this crisis.