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.
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.
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.
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.
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 andFacebook. Also, don’t forget to check out and like out Facebook page!
On Inventive Africa we often talk about the importance of reading within the education sector. There have been many innovations out there to enable kids and students to have access to information digitally. But what about the other side of the equation. Many authors out there find it very difficult to publish there their works and have them read by a significant amount of people. The same goes for musicians in Africa, who want to push their music out to as many as possible to make an name for themselves in an increasingly challenging market.
Below the guys from Publiseer explain what their innovation is aiming to achieve.
The Nigerian startup Publiseer, is aiming to change this and get up and coming authors and musicians international exposure. Publiseer was launched to publish Nigerian books and songs recorded on over 400 online stores, including the Apple Store, Play Store and Amazon, across 100 countries. According to StartUpBeat, “Publiseer provides authors and artists a chance to have their work seen by the rest of the world.”
The mission of the publishing company is to promote the creativity of Nigerians to the rest of the world. So far, Publiseer has published 40 titles, 15 books and 25 musical albums.
This is not the first time a company is offering digital publishing services to authors and artists. BookBaby and CDBaby, both sister companies and already-established names, offer digital publishing services to authors and artists respectively, but the competitive edge of Publiseer is that it’s publishing service is free, while BookBaby and CDBaby request hefty publishing fees.
African innovation comes in many shapes and sizes. The ones that make the press are usually the high tech software or hardware solutions that have the potential to disrupt a sector on the continent. But there are many other small innovations out there that are building on traditional skills, changing lives, and utilising technology.
In previous blogs, the manufacturing industry has been an important theme. Cottage industries have long been important in Africa, but difficult to scale. African fashion has been popular around the world in recent years, and seamstresses and tailors have been pumping out designs and clothing to be sent oversees. Other industries are not having as much success, but in one instance I found, hard work, innovation, clever usage of social media and a social orientation is reaping great rewards and changing the lives of hundreds of women and men in Ghana.
With the popularity of Instagram and the improved cameras we walk around with on our phones many people seem to think of themselves as models, or photographers, and it is partly this trend that has led to the success of Design Dua.
Design Dua creates beautiful woven baskets for babies, pets and many other uses. Coretta Owusu, the founder, innovator, designer and business woman behind the company, has gathered together a team of 25 people, from the Northern part of Ghana to weave these baskets using a special type of grass. She has gone through a long process in refining the designs and technique, including finding a new way of bleaching the grass so it is white than usual.
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.
In this blog, it is the humble tractor that receives all of the attention. Nana Kwame Darko, from Ghana, is the most recent of our highly valued guest bloggers to shine a light on innovation in Africa. He writes of an innovation that could change the lives of thousands of farmers in Ghana.
Today, technology is unavoidable in the different sectors of any economy in the world. The impact is very evident in agriculture. In Ghana presently, a team of young agripreneurs (entrepreneurs in agriculture) are have come up with an innovation for agriculture. Their mission is to connect smallholder farmers to tractors and other processing machinery.
A few years ago I met an inspirational lady by the name of Edem Adzaho. She is an incredibly intelligent hard working person who is intent on enhancing the skills of Africa’s potential workforce. She featured on the most influential young Ghanaian list in 2015 and has also been a TedX speaker.
Often a complaint from local businesses, as well as organisations that begin operations in Africa from other continents, is that the workforce are not skilled or prepared enough to start working. Africa’s youth population is increasing in size and is a great resource to be utilise by firms around the world, as well as in Africa. But, they need to be read, and well equipped to join the workforce. That doesn’t just mean having the right educational background or skills, it means being able to manage time, deal with pressure, have attention to detail and communicate effectively with team members and clients. All these points are regularly criticised by African employers in my network.
With The Global Graduate Academy, as well as various other roles as a speaker and author, Edem is teaching and inspiring many of Africa’s youth to challenge themselves to increase their employability, and to be able to keep the job when they get it. Her Youtube channel gives little snippets of inspiration that anyone can take on board, whether looking for a job, or deep into a career. A woman of many talents, she also writes books (Check them out here) and has more on the way!