The Innovation Prize for Africa is renowned for shortlisting exciting innovations that create African solutions for African problems. Due to the amount of incredible innovations announced this year, for the Ghana edition of the IPA, it was not possible to fit all of them into 1 or even 2 blogs! So this is the third part of IPA 2017 blog!
The IPA not only showcases innovative startups from around the world. It also gives a chance for the country it is based in, in this case Ghana, to promote and encourage innovation. Ghana is a country that is pushing innovation. Lots of tech hubs and incubators are popping up around the country, such as iSpace that we have mentioned various times (There are some more videos to come of their entrepreneurs). IPA will offer many of these innovators a platform to showcase their projects to international media, as well as receive coaching on how to progress.
Lakheni buys into the success of the collective model (which we wrote about some examples here. When people can pool their money together to bulk buy products, Lakheni found that households are able to save up to 20% on their groceries. Poor communities often pay more, relatively, than more affluent communities, as the goods are often packaged in to smaller sizes to make the more affordable (but more expensive per amount) So, if households, church members, friends, family, or any group gets together, substantial savings can be made.
Once a group has signed up they can then make their order. Each month, a hamper will arrive to a designated destination where it can be picked up and distributed. Not only does this service save individuals money, on groceries, but they save time and money by not having to go to the store and having their groceries delivered to a convenient central location.
Collectives are being utilised across the continent, but in some cases not efficiently. Many people come together to pool their money together in unions, but instead of use it for something useful, like developing their farms, sourcing internet access, or to bulk buy food produce, it is used for funeral arrangements. There need to priorities, and Lakheni is enabling that.
3. Voice Recognition and Speech Synthesis Software for African Languages by Omolabake Adenle
I am really excited about this technology for many reasons. Across the continent, many people still communicate in their local dialects. These dialects can be like time capsules, with links to the long ago caught up in everyday conversation. For a researcher like me, going and interviewing individuals about the past was challenging, and the language barrier heightened the challenges.
With this software, which can understand and digitise local dialects, it would have been far easier to capture the the oral histories of my interviewees. Whilst this technology already exists for many Western and Asian languages, African languages have lagged behind. With the exponential spread of mobile technology and internet access, there is now the commercial possibility to use this technology in Africa.
It is not only useful for my plea for everyone to go out and interview their elders about the past. (Please do so, or we will lose so much oral history to the ancestors) With this tech, now people can interact with mobile phones and other digital applications, enabling those that do not speak English, French, Portuguese, etc etc, to interact and be part of the digital economy.
Innovations come in all shapes and sizes, all of which are important. In the case of the 10 short listed by they are excellent and destined for success and making a big difference in Africa and beyond. Being innovative, and developing ones ideas is important for another reason. I have met a lot of people and spoken about their innovations. Many of them may not succeed at this juncture, but, they will have learnt a lot about being an entrepreneur and about the creative process. Being creative takes practice, and I hope the IPA and all of Inventive Africa inspires people across access to give their ideas a chance!
If you know of an innovation that is changing lives, or you want to be a guest blogger get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica or via email, and please share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook. Also, we have a new Facebook page! Please like it, and carry on the dialogue about African Innovation there!