Probably the most exciting time of the year with regards to African innovation is when the Innovation Prize for Africa announces its nominees. Then 10 nominees are always inspiring ideas that have the potential to create great change on the African continent. In previous years we have seen innovations like The Tryctor, offers many the access to smaller cheaper farm machinery, Api Palu, a natural anti malaria treatment, and the Green Tower, which uses solar to create massive electricity savings to households. This years nominations are no different with incredible innovations and examples of African created technology across various different sectors. Usually we pick three or four to innovations from the nominees to feature in a blog. This year, there are so many exciting ideas that it will need a part two and three to fit them all in!
Check out some of the nominees below:
There is no surprise the FarmDrive have made the list. Over the last year they have received acclaim from all over Africa and outside it. (Including from Inventive Africa!).
FarmDrive have developed a mobile phone application that enables small holder farmers to gain access to credit. Traditionally, there is little data about individual farmers and they pose a credit risk to banks. FarmDrive collects data from various sources, such as individual data, social data, environmental data and satellite date, to create a credit score for each farmer. With this score, farmers can apply for financing and loans. It has led to a higher acceptance rate for loans for farmers.
Many countries across the country and earmarked agriculture as the most important sector. This technology could enable more and more farmers to receive the financing they need to develop their farms and push them into flourishing business rather than subsistence farmers.
Another focus of many African governments is digitalisation. And rightly so! Closing the digital divide creates knowledge and shared information, brings people into the banking culture, provides a network of customers, and even increases the standard of health care.
Lokole, from DR Congo, enables communities to access sustainable emails by pooling the resources of people in an area and sharing the cost of bandwidth. Inventive Africa discussed the important of collectives, or communal purchasing. They were encouraged by another IPA nominee the Tryctor in order to give communities access to farm machinery. In this case, it is possible to bring down the cost of the internet to $0.01/person/day. The system is a shareable local area network, with the possibility of 100 people in a 25 meter radius accessing it. The cost of the device is about $130.
The device also compresses emails substantially and downloads and uploads data in times when internet costs are at their cheapest, enabling communities to get the most out of their internet spending. They have health, education and commerce apps on the device. Access to these apps will significantly improve the quality of life in many remote rural communities.
We haven’t featured DR Congo much on Inventive Africa, but we are excited to see that the spirit of innovation is also flourishing there.
Drones were an extremely popular topic last year. Whilst they are synonymous with modern warfare, they are also have other, nicer applications such as being used to help in the fight against poaching, deliver blood and monitor rainforests. For such applications there needs to be software, and that is what Atlan Space has developed.
Their drone software is able to detect and analyse changes on the ground or at sea over large areas. It has been tested in surveying harmful maritime activity, for example oil spills or illegal fishing. It is also able to monitor deforestation and poaching, analyse the potential of forest fires and patrol borders, all without the without the need to an operator, using artificial intelligence, so that it can coordinate with other drones and cover a larger area.
This cost effective system can enable a greater understanding of the African environment as a whole. We are already seeing schemes where cattle farmers are offered insurance due to hi resolution satellite images of the areas they are farming in. This tech could make the data even more accurate, and offer a greater number of people environmental assurances, especially with the effect of climate change on Africa become more and more apparent.
As you can see from the first three IPA innovations that we have featured here, there is a huge amount of diversity within African innovations. Entrepreneurs and creative thinkers are not just focussing on Fintech, they are looking for solutions to problems across all sectors in Africa. There will be another 1 or 2 blogs covering the rest of the fantastic IPA nominees. Keep and eye out and be inspired to be innovative!
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