Did You Know it has been a great year for African Innovation?

Did You Know it has been a great year for African Innovation?

The year is almost at an end and Christmas is upon us. Around the world presents will be given and exciting new technology will be given as presents. (As well as a few socks and handbags!) This technologies are the result of lengthy research processes and development stages. Innovations, joining tech together to great entertaining technology, which will eventually be the norm in our day to day lives.

In Africa, many of these technologies can not be fully utilised. Despite the rapid spread of mobile technology, Africa still has only 28% internet penetration. The Internet of Things, which is quickly spreading throughout the world, still has limited reach on the African continent. Despite this, there have been tremendous advancements in innovative technologies even over the past year. The African continent is innovative in nature and this innate passion for solution finding creates opportunities out of limitations.

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African Innovation from an early age

In one of our most popular blogs of a year,’ Did you know you should go to Africa to experience African innovation?‘, we discussed exactly this phenomena. The more we had read and written about the continent, the more we believe in this statement! People take holidays to Africa to see different cultures and the beautiful landscapes and wildlife, or to ‘save the world’ as a volunteer. What they rarely do, unless they are invested heavily in new technology, is go to Africa to experience raw innovation. It is not just about the tech hubs that we have constantly discussed through the last year and we are certain to do in 2017, it is about the children, building and creating toys for themselves and the mechanics that fix cars, which would simply be considered written off in other parts of the world. Innovation tourism should be the next big African tourism!

Solar power has also been a mainstay topic throughout the year. Solar power has recently become the cheapest form of energy on the planet, which bodes well for the ‘developing’ world. Building solar plants is now cheaper than building any other type of power station. Solar innovation is buzzing all over social media this year, and not only with regard to African technology. We have written about tech that gives everyone access to solar, solar malaria solutions, solar storage advancements and even a solar backpack!

Solar blogs in general were very well received, but the most read, and our favourite was ‘Did You Know Solar Power can empower African women‘. This post was about the brilliant Solar Sisters, who empower women to emPower their communities by selling the small solar appliances. Not only does this scheme give small communities access to solar lamps, radios and phone chargers (amongst other things), but the women selling the chargers become entrepreneurs. The Solar Sisters are making an enormous difference.

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The innovative use of mobile phones has also created enormous amounts of change in Africa, with health care now possible in many different ways, from remote eye exams to centralised health systems. Mobile money is also bringing more and more Africans into banking, saving, and planning for the future. Mobiles are even helping farmers optimise their farms! Fintech, health tech and agric tech, will continue to a feature of Inventive Africa and African technological development next year and into the future.

We have been very fortunate to have the support of some great guest bloggers over the last few months. Brook Negussie, CEO of eLearnAfrica, wrote of ELearnAfrica’s incredible online education opportunities, William Jackson discussed the importance of tech conferences to youth development, Maria Pedro Miala blogged about her great idea to bring health insurance to the masses, Ifeoluwa Popoola wrote about his innovative solution to create employment and complete household chores and Mtunzi Mavuma explained how there is funding available for startups across the continent. Our most popular blog, ‘Did You Know Hemp could create change in Africa‘, ever was also by guest blogger Scotty from MOhemp Africa. MOhemp are currently trying to go into business in Kenya, and promote the hemp as a solution to tackle climate change by utilising the Earth as a giant carbon sink.

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MOhemp Africa

We would like to thank all of our readers and contributors for all their support this year. We are really enjoying this journey through African Innovation and are excited to see what 2017 holds. Africa can, and should be, the technology bread basket of the world!

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We wish you an amazing Christmas period and a wonderful innovative New Year! Please get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica or email, and please also share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook

 

 

Did You Know you don’t need to go to your farm to be a farmer in Africa?

Did You Know you don’t need to go to your farm to be a farmer in Africa?

Throughout the year, we have written a lot about agricultural technology and innovation. From livestock insurance advances, to hemp, there is much going on in the world of African agriculture. All developed economies had a strong agricultural foundation before they industrialised and grew. Feeding your population is pivotal in maintaining economic growth, and developing a skilled youth. Nutrition even plays a big role in education, with students that are not well fed, often lagging behind others. Inventive Africa  sees the importance of innovation across all sectors, but without agriculture, none of the other sectors can flourish. Africa has the potential to become the world’s breadbasket. Population growth in Africa, and the world in general, is putting a strain on food supplies, but the sheer size of the African continent suggests that it should be able to take a lot of the food production burden and also increase exports!

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Farmcrowdy – offering return on investment and keeping farmers in work!

Whilst their has been a boost in investment in African agriculture in recent years, it is small holder farmers that continue to feed the continent. We cam across an app that supports Nigerian farmers, and helps them to grow their farms. Roughly 70% of Nigerians are involved in agriculture but agriculture only makes up 28% of the county’s GDP. With some investment and support farmers would be able to increase their efficiency and also start to utilise the huge amount of land that is not being cultivated. (50 million hectares).

One platform in Nigeria aims to bring investment to these farmers. FarmCrowdy works in a similar manner to #CowFunding. It enables Nigerians to get involved in farming, without even picking up a ho or planting a seed. Farmcrowdy market their platform by encouraging people to invest their spare funds in agriculture, to ensure food security and make a sustainable investment. Once you enter the platform, you are given the choice of which kind of farm you want to invest in. You may be interested in Maize farming, or cassava, or even fish or chicken farming. You make your choice, and select how big your crop should be, or how many chickens you want. Then the farmers get to work, whilst you are in the comfort of your home. After harvest, the investor is then paid his money, with a profit.

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FarmCrowdy making a difference.

On their website, the promise a 13-25% return on investment. An attractive prospect for any investor. But, this is not just about making a profit. This platform keeps 1500 farmers in jobs, giving them a livelihood and securing the future of their farms, by expanding them and increasing the quality and quantity of their output as well as using land that was not previously farmed.

The investment covers the rental of the plots of land, insurance, seeds, (feed for the livestock) irrigation and transportation to market. There is also regular updates on your farm, so you can track the progress from your house or office.

Schemes like this are important to continue to grow the African agricultural sector. Many farmers still rely on rainfall and do not properly irrigate their farms. These investments enable new techniques and efficient farming. I have seen many farms fail simply due to bad luck, but this can help farmers make their own luck. It will be interesting to see whether the promised profits are actually realised at the end, and if adverse farming conditions effect any of the farms. We will be following a few and will update you along the way.

If you know any innovative farming technology in Africa, or would like to be a guest blogger please get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica or email, and please also share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook

Did You Know Technology is supporting Aid Agencies in Africa?

Did You Know Technology is supporting Aid Agencies in Africa?

Inventive Africa usually writes about clever innovations created by entrepreneurs that make a difference in Africa. Startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses are the bedrock of African development. The more investment in African innovation, the more jobs will be created and the quicker African economies will diversify away form relying on commodities. At the moment, many parts of the continent still require support from charities and NGO’s. The goal must be, of course, to shift reliance away from aid, to economies that can support themselves. Until then, there needs to be support of charities and aid agencies that support those in need in Africa.

If aid agencies and charities are to be relied on, then there must be technology and innovations that enable them to deliver their support more efficiently, and also develop their strategy to make the most impact. This is exactly what the 2nd annual Aid & International Development Forum, Africa Summit 2017, in Nairobi will focus on. Beginning the 28th February 2017,  the summit will bring together over 300 representatives from governments, UN agencies, NGO’s donors and the private sector, to discuss the latest trends in humanitarian logistics, health innovations, good practices for building resilient infrastructure and assisting displaced people, a topic that is more and more important in today’s climate, as well as better use of data and ICT technology. Tech and innovation is an underlying factor that runs through all these themes.

Innovations built by entrepreneurs and not necessarily aimed at the aid industry, can increase the productivity and efficiency of all types of organisations. Education organisations can utilise tech like the BRCK, which offers educational tablets, and has its Continue reading “Did You Know Technology is supporting Aid Agencies in Africa?”

Did you know e-learning is at Africa’s fingertips?

Did you know e-learning is at Africa’s fingertips?

Across Africa, educational infrastructure cannot meet the current or future needs of the general population.  While higher education participation rates in many high-income countries are well over 50%, in sub-Saharan Africa they are in most cases below 5%.  As debates and demands around free education continue, online learning presents a welcome and affordable solution for students throughout the continent.

Only two months after going live, our pioneering online education portal and mobile application boasts over 385,000 visitors, searching for trusted, professional courses, programs and degrees.  It’s a humbling reminder of how hungry Africa is for quality education and eLearnAfrica.com is putting e-learning at Africa’s fingertips.

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We launched eLearnAfrica as an online marketplace for education, making it easier for Continue reading “Did you know e-learning is at Africa’s fingertips?”

Did You Know using the toilet can power your house?

Did You Know using the toilet can power your house?

Poo. It is not a glamorous topic for a Monday, but it is an important one. All of us eat, and all of us must go to the toilet. We barely think about this routine, but it is one that creates an energy rich byproduct, which could power our homes and schools. Energy has been a regular topic on Inventive Africa. We have discussed individual solar projects, like that of the Solar Sisters, who empower women to sell solar products and therefore empower households. We have also discussed the issue of storing electricity from renewable energy and the innovations making off peak renewable shortage less and less of a problem. On this occasion, we discuss the energy we make ourselves that is powering schools and houses in Cameroon.

Bio-Energy Cameroon, a youth run NGO, have started providing schools and individuals with equipment that is able to convert waste from septic tanks and pit latrines into bio gas. Across the continent, lack of optimal sewage systems means that most peoples “waste” is flushed (or simply dropped) into a pit outside the house, or in the community. This waste is then usually pumped out and taken away by a company. Bio-energy Cameroon not only provide the equipment. They train people how to use it and to utilise the ‘brown gold’ that is sitting right outside their homes.

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Eg. of a Kenyan bio-gas plant – from inhabit.com

This bio gas can be used to power small generators, running household appliances, and Continue reading “Did You Know using the toilet can power your house?”

Did You Know Tech conferences can empower Africa’s youth?

Did You Know Tech conferences can empower Africa’s youth?

 

Attending WordCampUSA Philly, the annual WordPress conference, was a great opportunity to join over 1800 bloggers, developers, programmers, users and even educators. Joining together to learn, share, and collaborate on a platform that allows for dynamic content to be posted in diverse digital environments. Attending with my students Joshua Rodriguez, a junior studying Biology and Johnathan Gregory a junior studying elementary education, both from Edward Waters College, the event provided an opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom in real world situations. These situations are not just educational, it involves business, commerce and entrepreneurial opportunities.

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William Jackson and his students at Wordcamp 2016

As Africans expand their educational opportunities, there should be participation in tech conferences like WordCamp, EdCamp and others. Technology builds leaders in diverse disciplines building content creators and innovators. In order for this to be successful in Africa students must be exposed to industry leaders, developers, programmers and marketers. These provide a vision to grow towards and creates mentors. Conferences like WordCamp allow for exposure, encourage interaction and engagement. Entrepreneurial ideas to start new businesses are fuelled, which influences the economics of communities. If Africans are not involved they may lose the chance to be inspired and be encouraged to think beyond their current community and even economic levels.

Learning from conferences is ‘Dope’ and ‘Lit’ as this generation’s teens and young adults like to say. More Africans need to have the opportunity to join in on the discussions to learn and contribute. To move beyond consumers to change into developers of new areas leading to education, business and commerce.

African nations should continue to prioritize learning on a foundational level to liberate the thinking of the application and integration of technology to produce, not just consume. African students are smart creative, dynamic innovators and embrace entrepreneurialism, which opens doors to build people and nations. Each opportunity to attend conferences is a chance to take back to schools, communities and peers new knowledge to share, to inspire, to ignite the fires of discovery that change the way African children, youth, teens and young adults see themselves.

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WordCamp in action

WordCamp, EdCamp, Bar Camps, Writing Camps and other technology initiatives should be taken advantage of to bolster and reinforce that innovation still has value and the ability to influence global markets. Attendance builds knowledge and networking, this influences collaboration and integration. Economics can be empowered and strengthened.

Thank you to William Jackson (@wmjackson) for his view on how more technology camps can create even more potential in Africa’s youth. Encouraging students, both male and female, to the technology field, will create a huge skill base that, in the future, could be the foundation of many of the worlds tech innovations. 

If you know of any camps in Africa that encourage Africa’s youth please get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica and please also share the blog on Twitter and Facebook.

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Did You Know Ghana’s election needs more technology?

Did You Know Ghana’s election needs more technology?

Ghana’s election is finally here. The build up to this hotly contested election seems to have taken a decade. As we write this, Ghanaians are already braving the hot sun, standing in long queues waiting for their chance to thumb their vote. First there were 16 presidential candidates, and then, after 13 were disqualified, there were 3. Now, 7 presidential candidates, including current president of NDC, John Dramani Mahama, and Nana Akufo-Addo, the twice failed candidate from NPP. As with all the elections since 1992, when Ghana had it’s first democratic election, it is likely that the victors will come from one of these parties.

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Ghanaians queue to vote in Accra

In recent years, Ghana has become renowned for having some of the most peaceful elections in Africa and Ghanaians are extremely proud of that. Despite some occasional outbreaks of disruption and violence (one person was killed in the northern part of Ghana last week), it is widely expected to be another peaceful election, regardless of who wins. The 7 political parties have all, last week, signed up to a peace pact, to ensure they will all work against any kind of violence.

So, what other technology has been employed in Ghana to ensure a peaceful and fair election? Continue reading “Did You Know Ghana’s election needs more technology?”