The coronavirus pandemic galvanized the development of more than 120 health technology innovations that have been piloted or adopted in Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa office said Thursday.

A WHO study found that Africa accounts for 12.8% of the 1,000 new or modifications of existing technologies developed worldwide to target different areas of the COVID-19 response plan.

“COVID-19 is one of the most serious health challenges in a generation, but it is also an opportunity to drive forward innovation, ingenuity and entrepreneurship in life-saving health technologies,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said in a statement. “It’s great to see the youthful energy of the continent fired up to fight COVID-19. Solar-powered automatic handwashing tools, mobile applications that build on Africa’s rapidly growing connectivity. These home-grown innovations are uniquely adapted to the African context.”

Countries with the most innovations were South Africa 13%, Kenya 10%, Nigeria 8% and Rwanda 6%, according to the UN health agency.

“The pandemic has put a fresh impetus on the need to invest in innovation and to put the right policies and strategic frameworks in place to unleash African ingenuity on the world,” Moeti said.

“We know that investing in innovation yields huge dividends. With COVID-19 and other health threats part of our daily life, there’s no time to waste in creating the right environment for African innovators to flourish,” she added.

The deadly virus has infected more than 1.7 million people on the continent – with an excess of 1.4 million recoveries but with 41,000 deaths, according to the WHO.

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