Did You Know Africa can now access African content for free?

Did You Know Africa can now access African content for free?

If you come from, or you are a student of, Africa, you will know that much of the history of the continent has been passed down orally. Oral histories are of the the upmost importance to securing culture and understanding Africa’s history. Despite their importance, there seems to be less and less focus on learning from ones elders.

After doing interviews for my thesis, may of which were of elders that could give me an understanding of pre independence Ghana. Some of the very old were able to even tell me snippets of information about pre colonial times. It is this age group that spent time listening to their grandparents, and therefore they have knowledge of over 150 years ago. They can real off the names of their ancestors, and they know the can history inside and out. It is a rather fascinating example of incredible memory! For me as an Englishman, it was not always easy to get information and it is the same for others who go into Africa to research. (Anne Bailey had the same problem when researching her fantastic book African Voices of the Atlantic Slave Trade) It is time for Africans to start interviewing their elders!

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A must read!

Since then, 10 years ago, I have been pleading with Ghanaians and other Africans to speak to their grandparents about their family history, record it, and write it down. For us historians, this knowledge is invaluable, but it is swiftly disappearing as one by one our African elders become ancestors. So much information has not been written down and it will be lost forever.
I studied in Ghana, and getting access to such information was extremely difficult. I had the university library, but often the books or documents I needed were no where to be found. I had access to a few journal sites like Jstor, and that helped, but I never had access to Continue reading “Did You Know Africa can now access African content for free?”

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Did You Know Africa is creating innovation from innovation?

Did You Know Africa is creating innovation from innovation?

Innovation is not necessarily coming up with a completely new idea, or technology, that has never been seen before. It is also, and mainly, about joining together new technologies to create new solutions. By applying new ideas to existing problems, innovative solutions are born. It happens a lot in Africa. Uber are one example of an idea that has changed various other industries. South Africa have embraced the idea of using already existing transport to make deliveries of food and other e-commerce brought items. Other examples of this include the work and pay taxi system that many use to buy their taxis or Okadas. This system has flowed seamlessly into the renewable energy market, with many schemes out there to offer people access to solar panels and pay for them bit by bit while already utilising them.

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Carter – Find your perfect car

 

Carter have also found away to use one idea and technology it in a completely different industry. In recent years, Tinder has become played a big role in online dating. The internet has long been a place for people to meet, but it has not always been the most accepted way of meeting people. Although other tools like Tinder have existed, Tinder quickly cornered the market and now has a massive user base, and in most countries. Tinder enables you to swipe left (for no) and right (for yes) on a persons photo, depending if you are interested in them or not. This short bursts of information is perfect for todays world and can be used cleverly in other industries.

Carter have begun to use just that in the car industry. There system uses an algorithm, which learns from the swipes of a person and helps them to find a car that suit them. They then link the car buyer with dealers who have offers on those cars. The user can then put the cars in a shortlist and compare them. Of course, the dealers are able to be rated, which is normal on most websites and apps with these kind of services nowadays. It makes the entire process of finding a car to suit you easier.

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Swipe left and right like Tinder

Now, this tech is not life changing stuff, but it does give a great example of how industries can utilise ideas from other sectors. I can envisage the ‘Tinder’ set up being used in many industries. It could be used to decipher symptoms of an illness,  find the the best fitting insurance, or even a member of staff for your house or your team. There are endless opportunities.

Currently, Africa is beginning its innovative revolution. We are seeing a plethora of innovations and new technologies being created by in the continent, but it is far from leading the world. Many other countries have been treading this path for far longer and have an innovative head start, but Africa’s ability to leapfrog technologies, means that it is learning quickly. To do this, African innovators must take existing technologies, mix them up, apply them to African problems and spit out new innovations. By doing this, Africa can quickly join the ranks and create world changing technology.

If you have any other ideas of how existing tech could be used to solve different African problems, why not guest blog about it for Inventive Africa. 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 there is a Fintech revolution in Africa

Did You Know there is a Fintech revolution in Africa

Africa is going through somewhat of a Fintech revolution. M-pesa was the starting point, but then many other similar services popped up across the continent. Then services that enabled cross platform payments like Flutterwave solve problems created by mobile money set ups. Now bitcoin is also beginning to make waves on the continent. Fintech is still trying to find its way, and there is an epic battle to find the best solutions for the continent. That is where the Datahacks4fi competition, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda.

Rwanda, have been at the forefront of many of the innovations in Africa and their government is hell bent on making the country Africa’s major tech hub. Despite it’s tech focus, Rwanda still has a large amount of financially excluded individuals. Many people do not use banks and have not yet jumped on board the mobile money band wagon. It is important for all countries in Africa to bring these people into the financial system. It is better for taxation, saving and planning for the future.

Here are the three winners of the event:

Hellojob Continue reading “Did You Know there is a Fintech revolution in Africa”

Did You Know African brains are helping African Brains?

Did You Know African brains are helping African Brains?

Health as an on going trend, which has run throughout Inventive Africa from the beginning. Innovation and technology has the ability to change lives in many way and in the health sector it can improve them, and save them. Mobile phones are giving more people access to specialist treatment, Uber style ambulances are taking patients to hospital, and solar power is creating a more reliable and safe setting for patience to be treated.

Often, patients in Africa can not access treatment because of the sheer price of certain procedures.(although this problem is not exclusive to Africa!) It is not necessarily the price of the doctors time that is costly. Machinery, like MRI scanners come at a hefty price. In Uganda, just to use the MRI scanner, before all the treatment that may come after usage, costs more than Shs 700,000 (£156). For some, this is simply out of their reach. People who should be getting treatment, are not even going to the hospital. I here of shocking deaths in Africa, which come out of nowhere and inexplicable. Many of these, I can only assume, is because people didn’t recognise their symptoms, and/or didn’t want to go for treatment, because of expense.

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Tumours detected by MRI Scanner

But, like many instances in Africa, when there is a problem, a solution is just around the corner. Johnes Obungoloch, who lectures at Mbarara University of Science and Technology, found a way of bringing the cost down of MRI scanners, which will therefore pass on the saving to the patient. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. They are expensive machinery due to the strong magnetic field, its technical and infrastructural requirements, and at 5 tonnes, their massive weight.

Continue reading “Did You Know African brains are helping African Brains?”

Did You Know Africa has revolutionised addresses?

Did You Know Africa has revolutionised addresses?

Have you ever been on your way to a job interview, or a friend’s place or even a local bar, and not been able to find your way? Usually you would pick up your phone, type in the address and then follow the arrow to your destination. Sounds pretty simple, but what if the place didn’t have an official address? This is the case in many places in Africa.  You could ask the way, and people will certainly try to help you. But, with a lack of knowledge of street names you will be told to “turn right at the blue kiosk, go straight past the grey gate, turn left at ‘May the Lord protect us’ drinking spot, and enter the blue gate, next to the mango tree”. (Or something equally as complicated)

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With mobile technology, GPS locations work, and maps work, but without an address, or at least a recognised address, it is still difficult to find your way. Enter SnooCODE. SnooCODE allows everybody to generate a 6 or 7 alphanumeric code a bit like a post code in the UK or Zip code in the US. Unlike the postcode and Zipcode, the SnooCODE is trackable by GPS to within 7 metres and enables represents the entire address. No need for street names or house numbers. When you type in the code, the map will show you directly to the door. They great thing is, it works in places that are very densely populated or in sparely populated village areas. It could lead you to a farm in the middle of the bush, or a drinking spot in the middle of a ‘slum’.

This is not just about finding your way somewhere, this is a system that assists e-commerce and last mile delivery and it could help track the spread of disease. This simple, clean method, could, and should revolutionise the address system in Ghana and further afield. Continue reading “Did You Know Africa has revolutionised addresses?”

Did You Know Africa’s youth are African’s wealth?

Did You Know Africa’s youth are African’s wealth?

Africa’s power is found in its youth. Africa’s population is the most youthful on the planet and in the years to come, that will be the continent’s strength. Education is not only a right for the children of the world, but it is vital to Africa to drag the continent up and bolster its respect in the outside world.

Mobile and cloud technology has made major changes in the potential for delivering education to students of all ages. From tablets with pre loaded syllabi on wireless local area networks, to being able to learn how to code on mobile phones. It is even now possible to do a whole degree and hardly ever have to set foot inside a university. (Usually that is only needed when sitting exams)

As suggested in this article from Scidev.net , there are various methods to improve delivery of STEM (Science, Technology and Engineering and Mathematics) education, Which are extremely important to the development of African technology and innovation. They suggest that creating centres of excellence and improving links with tech hubs could make a big difference to STEM education. Airtel Ghana, under the guidance of CEO Lucy Quist, who is passionate about STEM education are working hard to achieve exactly this.

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Airtel CEO Lucy Quist – Connected classroom (Photo – Biztechafrica.com

Continue reading “Did You Know Africa’s youth are African’s wealth?”

Did You Know solar power is saving lives in Africa?

Did You Know solar power is saving lives in Africa?

Electricity remains to be a difficulty in many parts of Africa. Even where there is a access to a grid, there are problems with reliability. Many African cities run to the song of generators firing up during times of blackout and even then it is not everyone that is fortunate to have a generator, or the money for the fuel to run it. According to the IEA, World Energy Outlook 2016, sub-Saharan Africa had an urban electrification rate of 63% and a rural rate of just 19%! It is not only households that struggle when access to electricity is limited. Local businesses are in some cases impossible. Coldstores, internet cafes and even bars and restaurants are all either impossible to set up in some areas, or very challenging and costly to run.

There are many schemes and innovations that have been set up to offer renewable solutions. The Solar Sister have empowered women and households with their solar appliances, M-Kopa offer pay as you go solar solutions where people will eventually own their own solar panels, and storage solutions are getting better and better. These are just a few of the many solutions that are changing the way people live in some areas.

The storage of food is incredible important for households and small businesses like restaurants and ‘chop bars’. Many of us may take it for granted, but a fridge is such an important household asset. Now, imagine what effect this has on farmers and their produce! It has been estimated 45% of food produced perishes, but now their is a solution created by a Nigerian inventor. Solar Cold Hubs, invented by Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu increase the shelf life of perishable food from 2 days to up to 21 says and is particularly useful for fruits and vegetables.

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Solar Cold Hubs

The solar powered cold room is a modular set up, with solar panels on the roof, which store their energy high capacity batteries. The system is very quick and easy to set up. They use a flexible model that allows farmers to pay a daily flat rate fee for every crate of Continue reading “Did You Know solar power is saving lives in Africa?”