Did You Know Investment is better for Africa then Charity?

Did You Know Investment is better for Africa then Charity?

Africa is synonymous around the world as a continent that is struggling with poverty, security concerns, and health emergencies (whether diseases like malaria and ebola, or droughts). Even before the Live Aid fundraising event for drought ridden Ethiopia in the 1980’s there were many events, and charities asking for people to donate money for causes in Africa. Whether to assist in malaria prevention and cure, to build schools and other important infrastructure, or help more children get an education, charities, and big TV telethon events have been allocating funds across the African continent for a huge variety of projects. Add to this the foreign aid pledged by governments, there is a huge amount of aid reaching the African continent each year. (In 2013 over $55 billion were given to Africa in aid alone)

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But is this an effective way of using these funds? Some would say that developmentally, little has changed, at least not proportionally to the funds flying into the continent. Whether that is because of corruption, mismanagement of funds or bad leadership, it is hard to say, but in certain instances it is clear to see that little has changed. I have been going to the same village in Ghana for 15 years, and even though there has been substantial investment in school infrastructure in the village, the fortunes of the village are much the same, with subsistence farming as the major employer. Having said that, the water supply to the village has made a tremendous difference, with water no longer having to be fetched from kilometres away from rivers.

Continue reading “Did You Know Investment is better for Africa then Charity?”

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Did You Know Snapplify is a school library in an App?

Did You Know Snapplify is a school library in an App?

Education is a topic that is often on the lips of those speaking at the copious African conferences around the world. This, and the many charities and NGOs that are set up to improve African schools, sponsor a child to go through school, or to send young people out to teach in rural schools, could over emphasise a negative issue throughout the continent.

I myself, travelled to Ghana as an 18 year old to “teach”, but when I realised that my teaching abilities were naturally not suitable for teenagers, I changed the mandate of the trip to report back to the small charity that asked me to go on the state of the education system in the region. Whilst there were some issues, what I saw was a group of teachers trying their hardest to teach effectively with limited tools. Back then, in 2002, there were not many options for technology to assist teachers in their jobs, but now, with an explosion of African Innovation, there are options across the continent.

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One of such options is Snapplify. Yesterday, 6th of November, they were one of many innovations awarded by the AppsAfrica awards. (We have written about many of the other innovations awarded in two other blogs:

AppsAfrica awards Blog 1

AppsAfrica awards Blog 2

Snapplify provides e-book solutions for schools, with publishers such as Penguin Random House, Pearson, Oxford and Cambridge all signed up to the service to offer their books. Access to books is vital in education. Not just for primary and secondary schools, but at universities. During my time at the University of Ghana studying for my Masters degree (a decade ago), it was very challenging to get my hands on the material for my research. If it wasn’t for access to online journals, I would have struggled.

snapplify diagram africa educatin.pngUsing Snapplify, schools, colleges and universities can create a special school branded store, where parents and teachers can buy the relevant material for their syllabus. It is not only parents that can buy books, institutions can purchase in bulk for their students.  They have partnered with a number of organisations and governments in order to be able to tailor content depending on the region, and are looking to push outside of Africa. Their system not only makes it easier for students to get their hands on excellent content for the learning, but also to partake in reading for leisure, which is incredibly important for literacy skills.

Institutions can also upload quizzes, class outlines, notes, and other information for their students, which is then easily downloaded using the Snapplify app, and accessed on individual devices. They have created a one stop shop for students to organise their learning and access content to learn from.

There are a plethora of options for anyone that wants access to information in Africa. Information is vitally important to enable Africa’s substantial youth to meet their potential and drive the continent forward. If we want parts of Africa to be hubs for world innovation we need an army of highly skilled and trained individuals to be able to develop ideas for the world.

For this to happen, they need to have access to material so they can not only learn in school, but at home, on the bus, in bed, on the toilet and anywhere else they feel like practicing their skills.  And technology like that of Snapplify, Raada, who offer African oriented content, Worldreader, who give children access to books, Or BRCK, who have created a mini server with tablets that can be deployed in rural areas, are creating further opportunities for Africa’s youth.

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 Fintech innovation is changing African lives?

Did You Know Fintech innovation is changing African lives?

Money makes the world go round! Whether carrying around huge wads of cash, coins jangling in your pocket, plastic or mobile solutions, without money, we wouldn’t get very far. With robots set to take many of the current jobs, the future may see us have a very different relationship to money, that is if money still exists. But, in the now, there is no escaping it, and that is the same in the Fintech sector.

The world’s tech companies are clamouring to come up with the next big financial solution. Banks are trying to keep up, while other companies try to find new and easier payment methods, as well as create synergies with other industries, for example insurance and credit. In Africa this is especially so, with financial inclusion so important and a huge market for Fintech to continue to tap into. In recent years, so many Fintech solutions have popped up around Africa. From blockchain technology, making it easier for individuals to invest in solar energy, to new crowed funding systems, or payment structure like mobile money, Fintech solutions are always represented at innovation awards around the country.

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Africa still a cash culture

This week is no different, with 4 Fintech solutions each took home $70,000 at a the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment pitching event, aimed at finding talented Fintech entrepreneurs, hosted by AlphaCode. The event is an initiative of Merrill Lynch and we will feature some of the winners here! Continue reading “Did You Know Fintech innovation is changing African lives?”

Did You Know an app in Nigeria can keep you safe from crime?

Did You Know an app in Nigeria can keep you safe from crime?

Crime. It happens everywhere in the world. We can’t escape it, and fighting it is extremely difficult. Africa has a crime stereotype that is struggling to shift, and that in many instances is putting off potential oversees investors and inhibiting the tourist industry. Of course, there are dangerous instances of crime that occur in the major African cities, but this happens in all the major cities all around the world. But, some places in Africa need to fight harder to clear the image that has been created for it.

Crime will continue to happen across the world, but how is it possible to create an environment to help people feel safer in Africa. A British company have developed an app to give some security to people who find themselves in a dangerous situation. The app is aimed not only at criminal circumstances, but also other emergencies such as natural disasters, car accidents or home fires.

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Continue reading “Did You Know an app in Nigeria can keep you safe from crime?”

Did You Know African innovators can get comprehensive support online?

Did You Know African innovators can get comprehensive support online?

If you have an interest in African innovation and technology, the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) is probably an organisation you have come across in your reading. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, they are the Swiss based organisation, founded by Swiss-Angolan entrepreneur Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, that runs the Innovation Prize For Africa (IPA). The IPA has been awarding African innovation for 6 years, with the 7th edition set to take next year. Earlier this week they begun their search for the next African innovations to take centre stage and compete for the generous prize and network offered. If you want to read more about their most recent winners check out the following blogs:

IPA2017 Part 1

IPA2017 Part 2

IPA2017 Part 3

The IPA may be the show piece of the AIF, but there isn’t just one string to their bow! Projects like the African Law Library, which is aimed at opening up legal information to anyone in Africa, have been pioneered by the AIF. Another project that will benefit potential African innovators is ZuaHub.

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ZuaHub is a connector

ZuaHub is an online platform that links African innovators or resources in order to help them develop their ideas and give them the best chance of becoming successful. Becoming a successful innovator, where ever you are in the world, is not just about having a great idea. It can be a long process from the initial idea, to successfully launching on the market. There needs to be feedback from potential users, access to Continue reading “Did You Know African innovators can get comprehensive support online?”

Did You Know you can find anywhere in the world with just 3 words?

Did You Know you can find anywhere in the world with just 3 words?

Last week, AppsAfrica announced their finalists for this years awards. Their awards ceremony will take place in Cape Town on the 6th of November 2017. We featured some of our favourites in our previous blog, but with such an exciting array of innovations, there simply wasn’t enough space to feature more. So, in this blog, we will cover some more of our favourite innovations that will battle it out in Kigali.

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A couple of weeks ago, I was in the north of England looking for a particular address using the Satnav in the car. I put in the post code, drove where I was told, and found I was still 5 minutes from my actual destination. We have worked with addresses the same way for centuries, name or number of a house, street name, town, county/state and post/zip code. In the new digital world, there is surely a more efficient way to deal with addresses. We featured an idea on Inventive Africa a while back, which offered a new way to look at addresses, but What3words have come up with another solution, to help you locate any 3m X 3m spot on earth. They have created unique 3 word signatures for every little plot on the planet.

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The What3words grid

Continue reading “Did You Know you can find anywhere in the world with just 3 words?”

Did You Know kids in Africa can report their abusers using an App?

Did You Know kids in Africa can report their abusers using an App?

Across the world, exploitation of children still occurs at an alarming rate. Exploitation can take place in many forms, whether sexual abuse, trafficking or even making young people work in difficult conditions. In Africa all of these exist, but there are differencing opinions over certain elements of exploitation, for example, whether child labour is exploitation in every circumstance, especially when the family needs extra hands to create income.  Regardless of which side of the argument is correct, the exploitation of children is very damaging ro society. Especially in countries where mental health care is often lacking, and so dealing with problems later on down the line can prove very difficult.

On many occasions I have met people, or heard of people that have been taken advantage of by people in positions of power. There are situations in which I have ha to personally intervene where a pastor and a teacher had managed to use their positions of power in horrible ways with the young people in their community. In both situations the young people in question were not able to speak out to their elders. It was just fortunate that they felt that they could speak out to me about it. In fact, on one occasion it was only their peers that let me know what was going on.

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Photo from Venturesafrica.com story about child labour

In Nigeria, there is a solution to combat this, and to enable children to easily speak out about any exploitation they are encountering, without talking to their parents of members of their community. The Jose Foundation have created an app called Stop CSE , which has been made for both Apple and Android devices. Children will be able to report the matter through the app, and the foundation, police, and any other relevant authorities will be informed to be able to intervene.

The ease of reporting is incredibly important for young people. It is challenging talking out against adults, especially when in many cultures children’s voices are simply not heard. This app will achieve its goal another way also. Just the knowledge of the app’s existence should give children a better understanding of their rights, and what they shouldn’t have to endure, from religious leaders, teachers, relatives and even parents.

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Lots of campaigns across the continent regarding sexual exploitation of children, including this one from Walkfree.org

Victims will receive a high level of confidentiality for their protection, in what is a sensitive area. This is important, simply because of the amount of power the exploiter can have over their victim. The tool will also enable greater data gathering with regards to abuse, and will be useful in informing policy of the future.

The only problem I foresee is that many children do not have access to their own smartphones, and even if they do, it is still necessary to be able to download the app. It would be interesting if mobile providers, or smart phone companies, had the app inbuilt into their systems, so that it was on every phone without the need to download it. Every child should be able to reach out for help, and that means access to a phone and the app.

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Image from Jose Foundation

It is great to see that technology is being used to help protect children. There are similar initiatives like this  around the world, and it needs organisations such as the Jose Foundation in Nigeria to take action and give new opportunities for children to speak out against their abusers.

If you know of any innovations in Africa, especially those that help the vulnerable members of African society, 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 page!

For more interesting blogs about African Innovation, check out our homepage at www.inventiveafrica.net.