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!
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.
Another week, another award ceremony showcasing African Innovation. And it is another popular one! The MTN Business App of the Year Awards took place on the 12th of October in Johannesburg. MTN, Africas largest mobile operator, is one of the continent leaders in the search for the next big African innovation. One the one hand, they are interested in finding innovative solutions to social problems, and on the other hand, finding and investing in these innovations can only further develop their business.
With the Innovation Prize for Africa, Seedstars, AppsAfrica awards and many more, Africa is becoming a greater focus of innovative talent. And the world is beginning to take notice. As well as fostering this talent and encouraging people in Africa to follow through with their ideas, these awards help change the mindset of investors outside of the continent. It is now possible to see that Africa does in fact have an incredible pool of responsible, hard working talent that can be tapped into. It is no wonder we are seeing more and more stories about big firms, such as Microsoft, heading into Africa to invest.
As usual, we will feature some of our favourite winners from the MTN Business App of the year below.
SHYFT not only won the award for Best Financial Solution, but they took the overall winner award. Shyft, from Standard Bank, enables customers to purchase currency and transfer money overseas all from the comfort of their mobile phone. Forex can be purchased and stored on the phone and transferred when needed. The purchased currency, which is in USD, GBP, EUR and AUSD, can also be used through virtual cards, which means international online shopping is now possible.
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.
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.
It may be one of the newer innovation awards in Africa, but AppsAfrica is also one of the most exciting and a place to find the tech to watch over the next year. And, excitingly, they have just announced their next batch of finalists and there are loads of them! This means, over the next few blogs, Inventive Africa will feature our favourites from across the board and I can’t wait to discover what new ideas are coming out of Africa. The annual Awards now in their third year attracted over 300 submissions from across 31 countries.
Some of the finalists have in fact already been featured on Inventive Africa. Of course, Farm Drive are there. Their innovative farm solutions have adjourned award ceremonies for over a year. Also Featuring amongst the finalists are Mastercard 2Kuze, who assist small holder farmers financially, Carter, a Tinder app for car buying, Flutterwave, a digital payment specialist across Africa, PiggybankNG, a previous winner that encourages saving, We are not surprised to see these incredible innovation continue to make waves, but which are the next big African technologies?
Solar energy is creating great change in many communities in Africa. Organisations like Solar Sisters are empowering people in their business and home life. Trend Solar are doing the same by distributing and financing a range of solar systems. Their systems are aimed at both low income houses, with a 70 Wh systems, up to 32 Kw all in one mini grid systems for companies or communities.
The Tr70 kit comes including a solar panel, solar battery device, two Led light bulbs and lamp holders, a portable rechargeable LED tube light, and even a solar smartphone! So they not only enable a safer living environment, away from candles and dangerous kerosine lamps. The smart phone is vitally important as it enables the consumer buy their energy on a pay as you go basis, using of course mobile money. The smart phone also means that the individual or family have access to many other important information, regarding their business, education, savings, or even entertainment. With many under privileged families in Africa spending 35% to 30% of their income on lighting and phone charging, this solution should drastically reduce this expenditure and enable funds to be spent on self development. (or saved)
In a time where the world is trying to create equality for all, girls and women still lag behind in many circumstances. Often, research into the lives of girls and attitudes towards girls is hindered. Often men are doing the research, or the head of a household is a man, which alters the information. TEGA is a girl operated mobile enabled research tool, which gives an accurate insight into the lives of girl. TEGA teaches girls from 18-25 to collect meaningful, honest data about the worlds they live in, in real time. Any research made can be uploaded in a matter of minutes, and be analysed shortly after.
Not only does TEGA enable girls to portray the reality of their lives, which can inform policy and create greater awareness to the issues that girls face around the world, but it also gives girls employable skills for their future. They are currently operating in hard to reach areas in Nigeria, Malawi and Rwanda.
Financial planning is not possible for everyone. How should a small hold farmer get access to funds to develop his business, when it is impossible for him to get a credit rating. Without this, they may not be able to access a good savings scheme, or other benefits offered by banks. JUMO seeks to change this by using behavioural data form mobile usage to build a financial identity for the individual.
For many people, having this rating will mean their first contact with a bank. This will change their lives completely, with the ability to save for a rainy day, develop their businesses, and provide more for their families. JUMO is offering loans, easy ways to repay, and also easy ways to pay for good. A one stop shop! Check out their inspiring video below
Fintech is providing incredible opportunities for the unbanked. It is creating a new type of financial culture in Africa. Mobile money, like MPesa and its spinoffs are providing security for families, which was not previously possible. JUMO are not the only innovation in the same field. We featured Lending Square a few months ago, who are creating credit ratings in a similar manner in Ghana. Don’t be surprised if they are winning awards soon also!
Unfortunately we don’t have enough space in this blog to feature all of the fantastic innovations that will feature in this years Apps Africa. But, in upcoming blogs, we will continue to talk about some of the others.
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 andFacebook. Also, don’t forget to check out and like out Facebook page!
The innovative nature of Africa is playing out across the continent. The media are covering more and more Africa born technologies and awards ceremonies, such as that of the Innovation Prize for Africa, are highlighting Africa’s excellence to the rest of Africa and the world. It is events like IPA and those of Seedstars (who are in focus in this blog) that push and encourage innovative change in Africa, unlike many conferences that just talk about what should happen, without making any tangible difference.
Seedstars are a Swiss organisation who trawl the world for innovation. In Africa, they travel to many countries, seeking innovations which could make it to their final African summit. The last was held in Rwanda, and we featured it here. This week, they will go to Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, but it is the South African addition that will be focussed on here. Winners are given pitch training and support and can then battle it out on the world stage against winners from across the world.
The South African event took place in July, and this blog will showcase some of our favourites from the event, including the winner.
The Innovation Prize for Africa has once again inspired a continent. After various events promoting innovation and creativity, the final ceremony took place on Tuesday 18th July, in Accra. We have been waiting with anticipation to find out who the winners of this years IPA addition would be, but the excitement comes from the huge variety of innovations that made it into the shortlisted 10. The health sector, agriculture, drones, innovative software and the energy sector were all represented in the top ten, showing that the continent is equipped to come up with solutions for Africa as well as the rest of the world.
In this blog we will discuss the winners and give a little analysis. If you want to read more about the other nominees, check out our three other blogs.
This years winner, and receiver of $100,000, was Prof. El-Shafei, who we had not mentioned in our previous blogs. (We had a feeling he may win, so held back for his potential glorious moment!) His innovation is maybe not as ‘sexy’ as some of the others, but it will make an enormous difference to production of energy in Africa and the rest of the world. He has created a smart bearing which changes its characteristics as it operates. According to the IPA website, the bearing “consists of a magnetic bearing Continue reading “Did You Know IPA rewarded its winners with $150,000!”→
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.
If you want to read about some of the short listed innovations check out Part One and Part Two of this blog. If you have already seen them, keep reading to find out about the other innovations.
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!