Did You Know About The Importance Of Closing The Gender Gap In Africa?

Gender inequalities remain a major challenge in many parts of the world. In Africa, closing the gender gap could significantly enhance development and sustainable growth. According to the WEF, economic losses due to gender inequalities in labour force participation cost 9% of Africa’s overall GDP growth.

According to a report published by the World Bank and One, the African agricultural sector is still suffering from a deeply-rooted gender gap. The report states that female farmers across many African countries are less productive on average than male farmers. This is due to several factors that restrain women’s productivity in these countries, such as difficulties in women’s access to land, difficulties in gaining access to markets or other challenges such as child care or household responsibilities, that are traditionally considered part of a woman’s domain.

One important reason why closing the gender gap in Africa is of such crucial important, is it’s effect on food security and livelihoods. As an article in the Guardian says:

“The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that if women had the same access to resources worldwide, their yields could increase by up to 30%, which could result in up to 150 million fewer people going hungry.”

(Source: The Guardian)

It is obvious – In order to enable sustainable growth in Africa, the gender gap must be closed. Let’s hope that the increased efforts by policy makers, international institutions and the local communities can make that happen!

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Did You Know Why Sustainable Innovation Is So Important?

During the weekend I made some time to keep up to date with the latest news on innovation in Africa. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any news to blog about. However, I´d like to keep this blog up to date, which is why I did a little research on sustainable innovation and its importance for Africa.

I´d like to quote lardbucket.org for a short description of sustainable innovation:

“Sustainability innovation […] couples environmentalism’s protection of natural systems with the notion of business innovation while delivering essential goods and services that serve social goals of human health, equity, and environmental justice. It is the wave of innovation pushing society toward clean technology, the green economy, and clean commerce. It is the combined positive, pragmatic, and optimistic efforts of people around the world to refashion economic development into a process that addresses the fundamental challenges of poverty, environmental justice, and resource scarcity. At the organizational level, the term sustainability innovation applies to product/service and process design as well as company strategy.” (Quote: lardbucket.org)

Why is sustainable innovation so important, especially in developing regions in Africa?

As stated in an article on scidev.net, the importance of sustainable innovation lies in its potential to solve social issues such as hunger, education or human health. It is only by satisfying such elementary needs that further technological innovation can be encouraged. As long as many are suffering from grave health issues and malnutrition, cognitive resources for bottom-up innovation will remain unavailable.

Moreover, sustainable innovation has the potential to enable growth while at the same time preserving important resources. Since resources are an important prerequisite for any kind of growth, they need to be tapped efficiently. At the same time, one must handle existing resources carefully to preserve innovation for future generations. It is only by sticking to these principles that we will see true and sustainable innovation that will benefit the lives of many in the long run.

Sustainable can have many aspects, way beyond the ecology. Is corruption a sustainable business model? Is oppression of freedom of speech sustainable? Is the distribution of incorrect information on competitors sustainable? Maybe this is the stuff for another blog post in the future.

Did You Know That Nigeria Has Just Crowned Its Top-Innovaters?

Good news from Nigeria! According to Newswatch Times, two Nigerians, Obi Brown and Chijoke Ezegbo, have won the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Innovation Competition last week.

The duo won the award for most innovative product/service as well as most innovative idea.

In their article, Newswatch Times provide a short description of the winning projects:

“The winning product in the most innovative product category, Study Lab Math, is a repository of over 1300+ videos solving math problems in over 49 topics in the NERDC curriculum for senior secondary school math. The videos are solved by a team of math teachers led by West Africa Examination Council Chief Examiner.

Dedicated Traffic Mapping Device, DTMD, which emerged the winning idea in the most innovative idea category is a GPRS enabled traffic navigation device with voice over interface, which is affixed to a vehicle windshield to help users navigate their way through traffic by accessing real-time traffic data and suggesting shorter/alternate routes.” (Source: Newswatch Times)

Since I am eagerly following projects aimed at promoting innovation diffusion in Africa, I was curious to learn more about the Etisalat Prize for Innovation:

“Etisalat Prize for Innovation is a concept initiated by telecommunication company Etisalat in Nigeria to reward entrepreneurs (techpreneurs) for their new innovations.

The 2015 Etisalat Prize for Innovation awards will be giving in two (2) categories;

    Most innovative products or service launched within the last calendar year.

    The most innovative idea for driving mobile broadband use in Nigeria.” (Source: TheTotalEntrepreneurs.com)

It will be interesting to learn more about the implementation of these two winning projects as well as the Etisalat Prize for Innovation. If there is any news, I will surely keep posting about the subject.

Did You Know That Uber Is Planning To Expand Its Business In Africa And In The Middle East?

I just read about a really interesting development that is currently going on in the taxi industry in Africa and the Middle East. As venturesafrica.com announced a few days ago, the infamous taxi company “Uber” is expanding its business into more African and Middle Eastern countries. According to the article, Uber currently operates in seven Middle Eastern and in two African countries, including Morocco and Egypt.

What I find most interesting about Uber’s expansion is the way, in which the company is apparently trying to address social issues in these respective countries. For example, the company successfully provided about 40% of Egypt’s unemployed taxi drivers with a new job, thus improving the lives of thousands of families. With the ongoing expansion into more African and Middle Eastern countries, Uber will potentially impact even more people’s lives.

But however noble Uber’s contribution to fighting unemployment in the respective countries may be, one must not forget that the company’s expansion will also cost many of the currently employed taxi drivers their jobs. Uber has been widely known for destroying the market for other taxi companies due to its business model and the low taxi fares. Also they are far from providing their drivers with fair working conditions, as is stated in this article.

To sum it up, I am sure that Uber will improve the lives of many once it expands to other cities in Africa. But first and foremost it will also challenge the existing taxi market and it might cause currently employed taxi drivers to lose their jobs. It is important to put the good news into perspective here.

For more information on how Uber is planning to address social issues in Africa and the Middle East, read the article on venturesafrica.com.

Did You Know About The “Hackathon” And About It’s Potential For Technology Innovations In Kenya?

Today I learned how technology afficionados from Kenya and Canada are trying to make a difference by using computer technologies such as Skype for developing innovations. From November 20th to the 22th, these brilliant minds will hold the so called Poverty Hackathon aimed at developing innovative applications that will reduce poverty in Kenya. The winning solution will be implemented by Free the Children, an international charity, in rural Kenya.

“A Hackathon is an event designed for computer programmers, software and hardware developers, graphic designers and project managers. This particular one spearheaded by Devs Without Borders hopes to bring charitable minded developers from Toronto and Nairobi together to create feasible solutions for education, farming and business for people in the developing world in just 28 hours. The best idea will then be implemented by Free The Children in 18 rural Kenyan communities in January. Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner founded mainly to empower communities to lift themselves out of poverty.”

(Source: VenturesAfrica.com)

By making a difference in health, farming and access to education, the initiators want to improve life conditions of the local communities in rural Kenya. I was thrilled to learn about the unconventional ways, these tech-savy users are adapting to make a difference in Africa. And what’s more, the collaboration between local developers in Kenya and the tech-community in Canada sounds very promising. I can’t wait to see what interesting developments the Hackathon will bring. I’ll surely keep you posted.

Did You Know About The “Hackathon” And About It’s Potential For Technology Innovations In Kenya?

Today I learned how technology aficionados from Kenya and Canada are trying to make a difference by using computer technologies such as Skype for developing innovations. From November 20th to the 22nd, these brilliant minds will hold the so called Poverty Hackathon aimed at developing innovative applications that will reduce poverty in Kenya. The winning solution will be implemented by Free the Children, an international charity, in rural Kenya.

“A Hackathon is an event designed for computer programmers, software and hardware developers, graphic designers and project managers. This particular one spearheaded by Devs Without Borders hopes to bring charitable minded developers from Toronto and Nairobi together to create feasible solutions for education, farming and business for people in the developing world in just 28 hours. The best idea will then be implemented by Free The Children in 18 rural Kenyan communities in January. Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner founded mainly to empower communities to lift themselves out of poverty.”

(Source: VenturesAfrica.com)

By making a difference in health, farming and access to education, the initiators want to improve life conditions of the local communities in rural Kenya. I was thrilled to learn about the unconventional ways, these tech-savy users are adapting to make a difference in Africa. And what’s more, the collaboration between local developers in Kenya and the tech-community in Canada sounds very promising. I can’t wait to see what interesting developments the Hackathon will bring. I’ll surely keep you posted.