A Namibian scientist is a semi-finalist in the Technology Idea (Tech-I) 2015 competition by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the US Department of State.
The competition is part of the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative.
Immanuel Hango, 31, earned a place as a semi-finalist based on his idea to stop the spread of cholera through his company Namib Chemicals, a chemical and industrial minerals startup based in Walvis Bay.
One of the solutions identified by Namib Chemicals is to produce chlorine for water purification by electrolysing salt using solar energy.
US Ambassador Thomas Daughton said, “Immanuel embodies the spirit of applying innovative solutions to the world’s toughest challenges. His project has the opportunity to galvanize global attention for Namibia at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya in July.”
As a semi-finalist in the GIST competition, Hango needs votes to advance to the finals and potentially attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015 (GES) which takes place in Nairobi, Kenya in July.
“I would like the public to vote as I am the only Namibian in the semi-finals. This will not only benefit me, but it will help bring Namibia on the map in the science industry,” said Hango.
Hango said he began to study the spread of cholera while exploring applications of chlorine in areas such as construction, food processing, water treatment, and plastics. “I found the need to study the outbreak of cholera after more fatal cases were reported in Otjozondjupa, Oshana and Khomas.”
Cholera is caused by the vibrio cholera bacteria found in dirty or sewage water. Hango said cholera can be prevented simply by purifying water with diluted chlorine.
However, the product chlorine is not easily accessible to those living in rural areas.
“A spoonful of chlorine can dilute up to 20 litres of contaminated water; but currently, all chlorine products are imported which makes it expensive for an ordinary Namibian to afford,” he said.