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Simbona Africa, a startup based out of Jimma is manufacturing a locally assembled UVC room sterilizer which was awarded a $15,000 COVID-19 response grant from Villgro Kenya to help ramp up production.

Simbona Africa developed a local UV room sterilizer used for hospital rooms, wards and medical equipment. The apparatus has 8 watts UVC lamps that emit high intensity ultraviolet light that hits surface in the room and kills any microorganism or pathogens including viruses.

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The UVC technology that is used for disinfection and sterilization, and is said to disinfect up to 40 square meters room area. The UV sterilizes have many applications not just for hospitals but can be used in schools, vehicles disinfection, kitchens, office room dissection and for medical devices sterilizations.

To ensure the safety of the people operating it, the apparatus is placed in an empty room and switched on for 5-10 minutes before anyone is allowed to come back in.

Habtamu Abafoge, Simbona Africa’s founder, says they have put the safety of the staff first by training and giving a manual that outlines how to use the apparatus efficiently.

“Locally produced medical devices have been out of the scope for Ethiopia and Simbona has paved the way for the government to adopt standards for WHO Class II Medical Devices. One such case is when the International Ethiopian Standard Agency adopted the International Electrotechnical Commission Standards to give approval certificates for the phototherapy units and baby warmers. This innovation went through the Ethiopian Radiation Protection Authority,” said Habtamu Abafoge.

Habtamu, who has a biomedical engineering background, said they have already produced 14 units which they have sold mainly to the Ministry of Health and they hope to increase their production to at least 40 apparatus to help contain the virus in Ethiopia.

Villgro Kenya, an early stage health focused business incubator and impact investor that seeks to support startups with a global health impact in the East African region also awarded another Ethiopian startup Maisha Tech for there innovation in 3D printing face shield along Simbona Africa.

“We are seeing exciting new innovations and strong talent flowing from Ethiopia, we are keen to support the growth of this team and sector in the country,” says Rob Beyer, a co-founder of Villgro Kenya.

Habtamu welcomed the grant saying, “We welcome Villgro Kenya’s financial support as it will help bridge the demand gap we are currently facing. The partnership will also be key in unlocking networks in the Ministry of innovation and Technology and the Ministry of Health due to its status as a regional Impact Investor for Innovations. We have plans to scale to East Africa due to the regional demand which has been brought about by the pandemic.”

Simbona Africa is also part of the 12 project listed by COVID-19 challenge grant launched by UNDP’s Accelerator Lab In partnership with the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MiNT). It is recalled that UNDP has allocated one million dollars for tech-savvy and innovative youth that will develop homegrown solutions helpful in the fight against COVID-19.

The finalists are expected to receive grant money up to $40K and coaching support to further develop their prototypes into scale-able products.

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