When attending conferences or reading papers on Africa, one of the key points in determining the future of the continent is education. Many organisations, charities and volunteer organisations focus on education in Africa as a way of developing the continent. Whilst there is a strong focus, there is still a lot of work to be done. Of the 59 million children that are out of school, 30 million reside in sub-Saharan Africa. Rural education and girl child education are two of the main difficulties Africa has faced in recent years, but there gains being made. A third of all adolescents not in school are in sub-Saharan Africa, more than in the year 2000.
It is not only getting kid into school that is important. The quality of teaching in some instances, simply is not good enough. I sat in many classrooms and watched as teachers taught their students bad grammar and spelling, and even incorrect facts. Students that had failed their high school exams, and were waiting to take the retakes, were taken on in private schools, which went in parts unregulated, to teach, without any training!
With gains in technology, access to quality education no longer means sitting in a school in front of a teacher. Tech is enabling more efficient learning in and out of school, helping teachers give up to date classes and enabling university students to broaden their education into different fields at a fraction of the cost of doing another degree.
As technology rapidly advances worldwide, Africa finds new uses for it. From the more illicit uses, such as internet scams that entwine themselves into African stereotypes, to the more positive innovations such as using mobile phones to support the health care system. I read this article about Africa’s most innovative tech hacks, on the Guardian page. Today, I will give my own perspective on some of these ‘hacks’ and add a few that I have found.
The first item on the Guardian’s list is 3D printed limbs. 3D printing is a fantastic innovation that looks set to change the way we shop for certain items. A time will come when we can print our replacement part for a car, or a decoration for the house. In this case, 3d printers have been used by Not Impossible Labs, founded on the principle of Technology for the Sake of Humanity, to create prosthetic limbs for children that lost limbs during the South Sudan war. Another, the RoboBeast, which is an Africa ready, durable 3D printer, that can be “thrown in the back of a Land Rover and carted off to the bush” and therefore enable customised printing to be undertaken anywhere. Continue reading “Did you know Africa is hacking technology to create new solutions?”→
Rats! Deliverers of disease and scaring people on to chairs and tables for eternity. But now, we are beginning to realise their full potential to enhance our lives. Most of the headlines we see about rats are scary and provocative, aimed to enhance our fear. More recently, they have been found a useful in the security and health sectors in Africa.
HIV/Aids is a major global public health issue. So far it has claimed over 35 million lives and in 2015 around a million died globally from HIV related causes. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, with around 25 million people living with the virus in 2015. Although there is no HIV cure, anti retroviral drugs can manage the risk, and many are able to live productive lives. One of the reasons for the spread of HIV is that it is possible that 46% of people with HIV do not know their status. As well as being educated over the symptoms of AIDS, they need access to HIV testing, diagnosis and treatment.
Dreams Innovation Challenge, from he U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is seeking to use a competition to find new methods of preventing the spread of HIV and educating people over the risks. I really like this way of encouraging innovation. By inviting people to enter the competition, an NGO or firm can have access to many ideas, innovations and solutions that would have taken a lot of time and money for them to create themselves. Continue reading “Did you know empowering African women helps prevent HIV?”→
This morning, I read about a new crowdfunding scheme in South Africa on the BBC website. Instead of the next tech or innovation, using Live Stock Wealth, you can buy a cow! Technology meets tradition and becomes innovation! (I wonder why they didn’t call it Cowfunding!)
The system was born out of frustration. Ntuthuko Shezi, a former graduate from the University of Cape Town and a serial entrepreneur, had wanted to find his way onto the stock market, but became frustrated by missed opportunities. His thoughts led him to traditional wealth. Across much of Africa, cows have been, and still are used as a source of wealth. The more cows you have, the more wealthy you are. Cows are often used to pay dowries and in other rites throughout the continent. There is even a “Lobolo” (dowry) calculator app in South Africa that can help you calculate how many cows you are worth! The problem is, with increased urbanisation, and also land issues across Africa, many people do not have the possibility to farm cows.
This service allows people to invest in cows from anywhere in South Africa and outside! You make an initial investment, to buy the 3 month pregnant cow, and then pay a small monthly fee for it’s upkeep. 7 months after the calf is born it is then sold on your behalf to feedlots or abattoirs. Live Stock Wealth estimate that investors will receive between 16%-20% return on investment. Continue reading “Did you know South African Cows can be purchased through crowdfunding?”→
Getting around Africa is an interesting experience, to say the least! You have a few options including the private mini bus, the taxi and the motor bike taxi. If you are lucky, there will be a train, or a local airline.
The mini busses are, in my opinion, by far the most fun. Although, sometimes, in the blazing heat, being stuck in traffic being sat in traffic next to someone with a basket of fish on their lap, with no escape route, can push the limits a little! These mini buses take a set route, much like the bus routes here in the UK. A colleague of the driver will have his head out of the window shouting and signalling which route, and potential passengers flag it down. If they are lucky, there is a space to sit (maybe on some ones lap) and they will hop in. They are not the most comfortable of rides, and I have been in the position where the door has fallen off mid journey, and the front seat passenger had to put his foot on the break while the driver went to relieve himself (the handbrake didn’t work!) Continue reading “Did you know Uber created competition in Africa?”→
cooperatives in Africa are not a new phenomena. I came across quite a few cooperatives/collectives for various uses. There were teachers cooperatives, and civil servant cooperatives, and at first glance I thought that they were a great idea. These cooperatives enabled members to pool their money together and save for a rainy day. I have seen these in Africa and amongst African communities in London. The problem I saw was that this money, was not being used for anything useful; it was being used to pay for funerals! Instead of this money being used to enrich the members, it was simply being used to pay the extortionate costs of funerals.
(I have used the term cooperatives throughout this article, but they are similar to collectives. In a collective, ever member has an equal say in the governance. n a cooperative, leaders are elected, but both function similarly)