Did You Know Innovation in Africa could solve the migration crisis?

Did You Know Innovation in Africa could solve the migration crisis?

 Migration, in its simpler human definition, is the movement of persons from one place to another. As of 2015, the global population of human migrants according to UNFPA was 244 million, which is 3.3 per cent of world population. The push and pull factors identified were: family, natural disaster, education, conflict and economic opportunities. In Sub-Saharan Africa, IMF stated that the number of migrants doubled since 1990 to reach about 20 million in 2013. Two root causes discovered were conflict and pursuit for economic opportunities. However, various migration studies showed that over the years, there were fewer conflict migrants and greater economic migrants from Africa. In statistics, UNHCR 2011 official data of International migrants from Africa put refugee (conflict) migrants at 14 per cent and economic migrants at 86 per cent.

[Editors note] In recent weeks we have heard of horrific stories coming out of Libya regarding the trade in slaves of many of these migrants, who are destined never to make it to their wished destinations, and it seems maybe not even back home. There sad journey need not have happened, if they were confident that prosperity was possible in their own lands.

The root causes of migration in Nigeria mirrored to that of Sub-Saharan Africa – internal conflict, leading to 2,152,000 Internally Displaced Persons, (with 85 per cent caused by Boko Haram) and pursuit of economic opportunities. There is no official data for Nigeria`s economic migrants. However, because of her huge population, youth unemployment rate (25.20 per cent), various EU`s Mediterranean sea crossing statistics, African migration statistics to America, and South Africa`s periodic Immigrant reports, one can deduce that there are more economic migrants from Nigeria than other African countries.

Migrants saved in the Mediterranean 

Like most African countries, Nigeria is a mono economy, heavily dependent on the sale of crude oil and does not strive to add additional value to its abundant natural resources. Young people with an estimate population of 91 million (Bloomberg, 2016), that constitute a large demographic of economic migrants, are under-represented, while general citizen participation in the governance process is low with grassroots development needs heavily ignored.

Thus, migration solution lies in economic diversification and citizen participation in the governance process in Africa and Nigeria. For example, the Nigerian government’s heavy intervention in sectors like agriculture and the creative industry (music, movies, literature and fashion) will reduce greatly the over-dependence on crude oil and open up economic opportunities in these sectors that will be able to trap the emigrating working class.

[Editors note] Nigeria is pushing to make a change, and diversify away from the oil industry. In recent weeks, it has been acknowledged that the new start-up capital of Africa is Lagos, and companies like Facebook are stepping up their investment to make sure that connectivity is more substantial. Innovative start-ups are popping up in many sectors. In the agricultural sector, that needs massive investment throughout the continent, there are creative ways of farming with large yields in urban areas, for example Fresh Direct, and FarmCrowdy who are enabling anyone to invest in a farm, even if they can’t get to the farm to work it themselves. The entertainment sector has also seen great innovation.

fresh direct container
3D Urban farming in Nigeria

Nigeria has long been at the forefront of the African movie and music industry, and they keep finding news ways to bringing profitable entertainment. Battabox for example is producing high quality local content, in a clickbait style to draw in the masses.  If you couple this with the rise of e-commerce in Nigeria, as well as the many other innovations, which are creating jobs, and enabling individuals to receive benefits, the future for Nigeria looks promising.

Without government intervention, Nigeria’s creative industry alone is expected to gross in 16billion Naira ($51million) in 2017. In Agriculture, though the Buhari-led government has begun investment with different social investment programs, more still needs to be done. In citizen participation, many Nigerian and African citizens lack the engagement skills needed to channel their economic, social and political needs to appropriate institutions and demand accountability from their leaders in return, and most governments are not citizen-needs-oriented. This lacuna is where corruption, under-development, resource control agitation and political conflict thrive, ultimately resulting in conflict and economic migration. This lacuna could be best addressed with citizen-needs-centered budgets, open budget process, and daily policy and civic education programmes.


Thank you to Chimezie Anjama for this interesting point of view about how innovation in Africa can stop the migration struggle. It is not only about slowing down the rate that economic migrants are leaving African shores. This is also about curbing the brain drain of young excellent Africans who are being poached by other countries, into their top positions. Nigeria in particular has great potential, with a massive and youthful population, they have the chance to be at the forefront of African innovation.

Chimezie Anajama is a sociologist with strong interest in development and public policy sector. She uses her communication and writing skills to tell development stories when not implementing ideas to better her society. A lover of arts, innovative learning and sustainable society. See more of her development related activities here (https://www.instagram.com/nwuliareads/). Tweet her: @MsChimezie

If you know of any innovations in Africa, an innovation that is changing lives, or you also want to be a guest blogger, get in contact with us on Twitter @inventiveAfrica or via email. Please she the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.

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Did You Know you can monitor your building project in Africa from anywhere?

Did You Know you can monitor your building project in Africa from anywhere?

Tech hubs have taken seed across the African continent. Every week there seems to be another open for business, helping young entrepreneurs with their ideas, training them, enabling to share their skills with each other, and develop their existing and new ideas. This is not a phenomena that is unique to Africa, but it is having a tremendous effect on the innovation sector across the continent. From my own experience at Ispace in Accra, it was clear to see the impact these incubators have on their members and users. The vibrant atmosphere is infectious with ideas and suggestions and help available from every angle.

Lagos – Africa’s Start-up Capital!

In Nigeria, in particular Lagos, tech hubs are also having a lot of impact. It was recently announced that Lagos will become Africa’s start-up capital, overtaking Nairobi, and this is, in part down to the work of the tech hubs. CcHub is one such that is making a difference in Nigeria. They are an open living lab and pre-incubation space for users to work on their social tech ventures. Users include technologists, social entrepreneurs, government, tech companies, impact investors and hackers. Recently they announced a 15 strong list of start-ups from across Africa that would take part in its Make-IT accelerator programme next year. We have chosen a few of our favourites to feature below.


Across the world there is a huge amount of pressure put on children to pass their exams. It is not different across Africa, with students across the continent often facing many hurdles in order to pass their exams. Many students work for their family, or have a Continue reading “Did You Know you can monitor your building project in Africa from anywhere?”

Did You Know Africa’s agricultural sector is being driven by innovation?

Did You Know Africa’s agricultural sector is being driven by innovation?

Do you have an interest in farming? If you live in, or have an interest in Africa, then you should have an interest in farming, and agriculture in general. The potential of the agricultural market is massive. With huge portions of land available, and growing population, there is an urgent need to utilise resources, increase yields and empower young African farmers to feed an entire continent, without the reliance on food imports. Regardless of the need for agriculture, urbanisation is driving people out rural areas to search for jobs in the cities, abandoning their agricultural roots.

For those looking for investment opportunities, agriculture should be, at the very least, close to the top of the options. Food is needed, and food must be supplied. There is a shortfall of it, and therefore, there is room for more farmers, bigger farms, and/or better farming practices. With #CowFunding, and FarmCrowdy there are ways for people in urban areas to keep to their farming roots. There are also many other innovations popping up around the industry.

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How I wanted my Jatropha farm to look!

Sometimes, I have to trawl the internet searching for innovations regarding a certain sector in Africa, but in this case, Mest Africa helped me with three great innovations the wrote about on Twitter. All of which compliment the agricultural sector.


Farmers rely on many agricultural inputs to make sure their crops are of the best quality possible. From the seeds, to the fertiliser, or the pesticide, so many things are important Continue reading “Did You Know Africa’s agricultural sector is being driven by innovation?”

Did You Know creating power in Africa can clean up the cities?

Did You Know creating power in Africa can clean up the cities?

Energy is on the main menu for discussions all over the world. The need for energy is destroying the planet at unexpected rates, but nevertheless, people still need it in greater quantities. Africa is a prime example. The continent will have greater and greater demand for energy the more it develops it’s infrastructure and with the population continuing to expand and expand. Power is needed on many different levels across the continent. There are still areas that are not connected to grid electricity, and therefore many households that do not have access to power for fridges, televisions or even to charge their mobile phones. But it is not only individuals that have demand. For industry to grow, their demand for power will also increase, which will put further burden on the current traditional grid.

A lot of countries still rely on hydro electricity, which is ironic in a continent which is notorious for its unreliable rainfall. Other options are springing up throughout the continent. Solar power is being utilised on a big scale in countries like Morocco, and there are more effective storage capabilities for renewable energy, although they are not yet the perfect solutions. Off grid solutions, which also involve solar power, but in a Pay As You Go system, for individuals, and mini grids for communities are also an option.

Continue reading “Did You Know creating power in Africa can clean up the cities?”

Did You Know Drones are fighting mosquitoes in Africa?

Did You Know Drones are fighting mosquitoes in Africa?

Malaria is a scourge in Africa, which is killing 500,000 people globally, every year. For those of us who were not born or raised in Africa, we know of it because of the huge charity campaigns to raise money to help prevent people from contracting it from mosquitoes. Dishing out treated mosquito nets to families in effected areas has been the main action aimed at malaria prevention, and it has had some success, but there are other innovations that are joining the “war on mosquitoes”. In some areas, such as in Zanzibar, there has been a drop in malaria prevalence from 40% to 1%, which is remarkable.

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Malaria nets have made a drastic change in some areas in Africa

Over a year ago we also wrote a blog on this malaria war, with a number of technologies that are being used around Africa. From the SolarMal, which is a solar powered fan, which attracts in mosquitoes using human scent and kills them,  Faso, a new type of soap which repels the unwanted creatures, or even incredible research by the IBM lab in Johannesburg helping understand potential resistance to drugs, there are countless projects and innovations to try and stamp out malaria by 2030.

Now, other technologies are joining the fight and taking it directly to the mosquitoes, instead of waiting for them to come. And what amazing technology is being used for this Continue reading “Did You Know Drones are fighting mosquitoes in Africa?”

Did You Know Africa is part of Switzerland’s business discussion?

Did You Know Africa is part of Switzerland’s business discussion?

This morning I had the pleasure of attending a “Breakfast Buzz” event in Zurich held by the Swiss African Business Circle. They partnered with Djembe Communications, a comms agency focussed on “amplifying an African narrative founded on opportunity, growth and innovation”, to put on this event entitled “Leveraging African know-how in Switzerland”.

Switzerland is not known for it’s African endeavours, but in recent years there has begun to be an understanding that the African continent has great potential as a market place. Companies are beginning to reach out their tentacles and venture tentatively into Africa, ignoring the negative African stereotypes that have permeated into business thought in Switzerland. But once there, how exactly can companies leverage, and enable local talent to drive their African subsidiaries forward, and ultimately benefit the entire company.


It is not an easy question to answer, and with cultures varying so differently, not only between Switzerland and Africa, but within the continent itself, there is no set system in place that works everywhere. But, what we do know is that there is talent in Africa. Throughout this blog you (if you have read it all, and I urge you to do so!) you will have seen incredible creativity and ingenuity across the continent, and amazing engineering skills to bring those creations to life. But how do companies access and leverage talent, which is highly sort after?

The two speakers at today’s event, Yvonne Bettkober, who sits on Microsoft Switzerland’s board and comes originally from Cameroon, and Charles Thiemele who is leading AOT into West Africa, both spoke of the challenges and potential of Africa to multinationals outside of the continent. It is African’s like Yvonne and Charles that are part of the solution in creating an atmosphere in which non African companies wish to invest in the continent. It is their professionalism and expertise, which, in their senior positions, is being showcased to industries who have not seen many African leaders excelling.

Charles Thiemele SABC Africa AOT
Charles Thiemele speaks at the breakfast Buzz

Yvonne may be based in Switzerland today, but she has worked extensively in the African market, as has Charles. Both of them recognised that there are challenges in finding and keeping talent in Africa, especially if there is separation between the head office, the African department, which is often tagged on with the Middle East and Europe, and the location in Africa. It is often an issue when Africa is just tagged on to a department, because often it means that opportunities get lost because the continent is not a priority. It may be challenging in the initial stages, but the most beneficial way to do business in Africa is to open an office there. As a member of the audience from Syngenta mentioned, it is these initial stages that can often be the time consuming difficult ones,. In his example, someone had already taken the Syngenta name in Nigeria, which they needed to overcome with a kindly written legal letter.

But after these stages, a company can begin to make a name for itself in Africa, enabling the expert local labour force to develop.In the case of Microsoft, with the 4Afrika initiative, which I discussed last week in a blog about Aid Vs Investment, they have gone into Africa with no current thought of making sales. They are there to open the market, enable people to learn, get connected and develop themselves. The more people and businesses online, the more there are to buy Microsoft projects.

charity or investment africa

The talent in Africa is immense, and there is a pot of talent to tap into. Cultural differences may cause some challenges in finding the right fit for for the company culture. Having said that, the African workforce is incredibly adaptable and innovative. In many cases far more so than workforces in Europe and America. In my opinion you need a bridge between the two cultures. Often that comes in the form of someone from outside of the continent that understands the culture of the local office, or vice versa, a local that has experience in other markets around the world.

Finally, very importantly and very relevant to Inventive Africa, technology needs to be harnessed within the African business setting. From farms to large multi nationals, technology can be exploited in Africa which ever the setting. There are also lots of opportunities in the tech setting for companies from outside of Africa. Yvonne Bettkober rightly said, that even though there may not be an ideal mobile penetration in Africa percentage wise, even a small percentage in Africa is a huge amount of people. In Nigeria there are over 90 million internet users! Compare that to the Swiss population of 8 million, or even the British population of 65 million, you can see the potential of the online market! Whether for marketing, education, entertainment or business, technology, and in particular mobile phones and internet offers a big opportunity for companies inside and outside Africa. It is just a case of utilising the local expertise.

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Switzerland is tiny compared to most African countries!

Usually we promote African innovation, or innovation directed at Africa. We talk about African solutions to African problems. But, there is a place for the major companies to make change in Africa. By developing the skill base of the youthful population and sharing knowledge, local populations will be enabled in great numbers to push forward their industries and nations and showcase Africa to the world.

Thank you to SABC for inviting me along to the event, it was very interesting!

If you know of any innovations in Africa, an innovation that is changing lives, or you also want to be a guest blogger, get in contact with us on Twitter @inventiveAfrica or via email. Please she the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.

Also, don’t forget to check out and like out Facebook pageFor more interesting blogs about African Innovation, check out our homepage.




Did You Know there is another Innovation Award in Africa?

Did You Know there is another Innovation Award in Africa?

Almost a year ago we wrote about the annual Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF), which was held in Nairobi in February 2017. Well, after enjoying a successful event, they will be back again next year February 27th-28th in Nairobi, for the third edition. The event will explore the latest policy and project updates, best practices, and importantly, innovations that improve humanitarian aid operations and infrastructure in Africa. Inventive Africa is very proud to be media partners of the event and this year, with our new logo created for us by Brian Nyagol, a talented Kenyan who is the CEO of VibeCampo, Africa’s own social network, which we featured last month, we can actually appear on the AIDF website with the other supporters!

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Our new logo!

The AIDF have been running for 13 years and have the mission to support the drive towards positive outcomes in the future and promote collaboration between stakeholders. Their events showcase a need for targeted dialogue, strategic alliances on an intimate level, and showcasing Africa to the world. They bring together people from all sectors from governments and aid organisations and NGOs, to private sector companies, creating partnerships between those with understanding of the issues, and those with expertise.

Innovator of the Year!

This forum, AIDF will for the first time hold the Innovator of the Year competition, with the winners to be announced at the event in February. The competition celebrates the Continue reading “Did You Know there is another Innovation Award in Africa?”