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 to fit them all in! Check out some of the nominees below:
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 Continue reading “Did You Know IPA rewards diverse innovations in Africa?”→
I am back in Ghana for a holiday but I am trying to make the most of the time here. Learning as much about what is new in Ghana as possible. Fortunately for me, the Stars For All Nations (SFAN) event at the British council, that I wrote about here, took place during my stay here. After a morning meeting at La Wireless school, to organise our upcoming coding club, I was a little late to the event and sadly missed the beginning.
The fact that I missed part of Airtel MD Lucy Quist’s presentation was disappointing for me personally, but optimistic for the event. What this means is, the event started on time! I have been to many events here in Ghana in which I had to wait for a long time for the beginning. Even yesterdays Easter celebration in the village delayed by 5 hours! But, this even starting on time was a sign of good things to come. As I arrived the 200 strong audience were quietly and attentively listening to Lucy Quist’s inspiring insights.
Lucy Quist, a renowned speaker who is an advocate for STEM education, was the main speaker at SFAN. During her opening speech, she spoke about how important it is that Africa supports Africa. As we have been saying on Inventive Africa for sometime, “Change is happening” in Africa, and Africa needs to be ready to take advantage of it. Quist explained that “the majority of people preparing for the African demographic and opportunity boom are not African”. From just walking around Ghana this is quite clear. There are many non-Ghanaians in Ghana taking advantage of the potential of the Ghanaian market. It is time for Ghanaians to also recognise the potential here and start utilising the market. Quist also pointed out that African’s need not only to create jobs, but to buy from other Africans. Continue reading “Did You Know Africa is thinking about the future of employment?”→
3D printing is a trend that doesn’t look to fizzle out. It is changing the way industry works and enabling small businesses all over the world. The prices of printers are coming down steadily and it is even possible to scavenge the parts and make one yourself! 3D printers and the availability of effective 3D scanners are giving unlimited opportunities to individuals, businesses and even medical suppliers, as you will see below. There are some negative aspects to this, with security threatened as it is now very easy to scan and print house keys using fairly rudimental 3D printing equipment. But, on the whole, 3D printing will speed up the supply chain and change people’s lives in a positive way.
3D printing has already been drastically changing the lives of some Africans. RoboBeast have been printing prosthetic limbs for people off the back of a Landrover in the African bush. This durable 3D printer is working under tough condition in remote areas and proves how versatile the 3D printing industry has become. It is now even possible to 3D print in metal, which would cut out the transportation fees for many industries. (The metal 3D printers are still very expensive)
ReFab Dar, based in Tanzania, are hoping to take advantage of the increased effectiveness of 3D printing. The aim to create the opportunity to 3D print vital medical supplies across Africa. This would enable Africa to take control, supplying itself with medical equipment it can not do without. They have set up a hacking competition and invited participants to design 3D printed medical tools. The competition focusses on tools that hep prevent HIV and birthing equipment. The submission date was on the 20th, and finalists will be announced on the 31st of March.
ReFab Dar have another innovation up their sleeve, also in the 3D printing sector, killing two birds with one stone! Currently they are taking plastic waste and turning it into the raw material for 3D printers, unlocking its value. Plastic waste is a scourge that plagues the continent. Countries like Rwanda seem to have been able to deal with it, but in many other countries, plastic is seen everywhere throughout the major cities in Africa. Currently, 3D printing is not utilised enough in anywhere in the world to clean up all the plastic waste, but as it becomes more and more effective, and with competitions like ReFab Dar’s for creating medical supplies, it will become more prevalent across the continent. The raw material is just sitting their waiting to be used. It is even possible that the bottling and packaging companies realise that they are missing out on an income and will do more to clear up and recycle the waste after its usage. Check out the video from their website, it is incredible innovation that can change Tanzania and the whole of Africa!
3D printing can be utilised in so may industries. Medical supplies may be one of the most important for the general health of the continent, but equipment for farmers, mechanics, tradesman, like plumbers and electricians, scientific equipment for schools, and even bigger industries such as laptop manufacturers like Positivo in Rwanda, could take advantage of 3D printing to make their operations more efficient.
Good luck to all those taking part in the ReFab Dar 3D printing hack. We can’t wait to see the results! If you know of any other 3D printing solutions and innovations in Africa, 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!
Africa is innovating, but in many instances the world refuses to see it. I have many conversations with people that are very sceptical about African innovation. But, within the continent there is a feeling of enthusiasm towards innovation and optimism that innovation can improve the lives of individuals and the continent as a whole.
In these changing times, the Africa youth are potentially best placed to take advantage of the changing circumstances that new technologies are creating for the world we live in. I say potentially because, despite the optimism, Africa is still lacking important infrastructure. Measures are being taken by governments and private organisations to close the digital divide and enable the youth to take advantage of technology and innovation. One upcoming event that is approaching that very topic is the Quantum Leap Career Fair, which will be taking place on April 12th in Accra, Ghana. The event is part of a collaboration between Stars From All Nations (SFAN), who aim to enable the next generation of African Leaders, and iSpace, one of the leading technology hubs in Ghana. The theme of the event is ‘Technology and the Future of Work in Africa’.
A Mckinsey study suggests that when current primary school students reach working age, 65% of the jobs will have been newly created and not existed today. Automations are making many jobs more efficient and there is more and more need for computer programmers as well as other positions. As well as being a careers fair, and preparing job seekers for work, SFAN and iSpace are seeking to highlight the importance of being prepared for these new job functions. If Africa can take the lead in these preparations, then it is possibly to close the gap to the rest of the world much more efficiently. Continue reading “Did You Know events across Africa are focussing on 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.