Did You Know Nairobi Innovation Week is coming soon?

Did You Know Nairobi Innovation Week is coming soon?

All of last week we were at the Co-Willing conference, situated on Africa’s best beach, Diani beach. But the time came for us to pack our bags and leave paradise, and a conference which has enhanced enthusiasm, and provided great inspiration from great presentations on a wide range of topics such as solar, bee keeping, education systems, health, and even campaigning advice!

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Diani beach paradise! Don’t be jealous, we were working!

But whilst other packed up to go home, I couldn’t leave Kenya without heading to Nairobi, though of by many as the innovation capital of Africa. The journey was a long one, using the incredibly efficient train service between Mombasa and Nairobi, but eventually I ended up at the University of Nairobi, in the C4D lab to speak to the Nairobi Innovation week team. A year ago we wrote about their 2016 edition, so it was amazing to be there a year later to see what they are doing!

The Nairobi Innovation Week is one of the most exciting events in the African innovation calendar. They bring together people from all sectors, public and private, NGOs, startups, you name it. The exciting new ideas, created mainly by Kenyans, but also from around the East African region, will be showcased throughout the week. There will also be an award for the 15 most promising innovations, which usually shows some of the trends for the coming year. There is still a chance to sign up, so check out their site and showcase your innovations! This years theme is “Innovating for a Better Tomorrow”.

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview the Chairman of NIW, Dr Tonny Omwansa. Check out what he has to say about the NIW and his view on the innovation trends of 2018 below. (Please excuse my mispronunciation of Nairobi through out the interview! It really was a long day!)

Thank you to NIW, Dr Omwansa and George Masila, the communications officer, for hosting us at the NIW offices. We are still in Kenya, so please get in contact if you want to talk to us about your innovations. Just reach out to us on inventiveafrica1@gmail.com

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Did You Know 2017 was an exciting year for African innovation?

Did You Know 2017 was an exciting year for African innovation?

Another year is already over, and it has been an exciting one! As Christmas approaches, and 2018 peaks its head over the horizon, it is time to look back on 2017 and enjoy the innovative gifts that it has brought us from Africa!

The innovative African year has followed the expected trends with Fintech, Agriculture, health, education and renewable energy all receiving a lot of attention from Africa’s creative minds. It has also been a year in which innovation awards, and summits focussing on the topic of innovation in Africa have been very popular, and have also made a difference to many Start-ups in Africa; offering them funding, technical and business support to help develop their innovations to become world beaters.

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The Innovation Prize for Africa has once pitted together an exciting group of nominees, the winner of which was Prof. El-Shafei who invented the smart bearing, which significantly increases the efficiency of turbines. (IPA are once again looking for nominees, so it is time to sign up now!). Seedstars have also given a platform to many innovators and unearthed some incredible talent. Their winner this year was an app Continue reading “Did You Know 2017 was an exciting year for African innovation?”

Did You Know the African Youtube could inspire other innovators?

Did You Know the African Youtube could inspire other innovators?

How many ideas do you have? I have a lot, all the time, solving different problems, offering services for people, different tools and products. It is always a little disheartening when I find that someone already had the idea, or that is has been created already and is quite advanced. But, last week I was sent a news clip by the inspirational Edem Adzaho, who I was honoured to feature on Inventive Africa in May, about a Ghanaian that simply didn’t care that his innovation existed already. His aim was to not just replicate it, but to make it better.

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Gabriel Opare

The challenge he set for himself was not a small task of over coming a new product, he decided that the might of Youtube needed to be improved on. So, he set to it. Maybe it was the exuberance of youth that gives him the edge over me and my disheartened moments, but 19 year old Gabriel Opare took on this challenge and is well on his way to succeeding. Gabriel doesn’t even study computer programming, he is a Sociology student at my old university, the University of Ghana. He taught himself to code by taking online courses in his free time. Continue reading “Did You Know the African Youtube could inspire other innovators?”

Did you know the upcoming film Mobile Africa showcases the tech revolution?

Did you know the upcoming film Mobile Africa showcases the tech revolution?

In 2002 I first travelled to Ghana. When I landed, I was given a Spacefon “chip” (Sim card) at the airport, and thus started my journey with mobile phones and innovation in Africa. It was only 2 years after I had started using my first mobile phone. The network wasn’t always good, and there were often 20 “hello?” said at the beginning of the call, before a conversation could be had, but it was brilliant. Being their as a young lad for the first time, it made life a lot easier. Through the years, Spacefon became Areeba, and now one of the giants MTN, and like the changing networks, so has the quality of the service provided. There are now a plethora networks to use, and during my last trip I was able to live stream the Easter celebrations from a small village in the east of the country. Quite a big step in the last 15 years!

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Mobile Africa – Now on Kick Starter!

Innovation in Africa is now big news. What is encouraging is that individuals and groups are joining hand and collectively driving forward technology and innovation in the continent. There has been a joint realisation that innovation is able to speed up the development of the continent, which has been playing catch up for decades. With the biggest youthful population, the continent can use innovative trends to gain an equal standpoint globally. Inventive Africa is one of the parts of this giant machine promoting innovation, and it is always exciting to see others that are passionate about the same things.

One such project is Mobile Africa, a movie outlining the technology revolution that is underway throughout Africa. Fortunately for Inventive Africa, Mobile Africa filmmakers Scott Gorman and Chris Larson. Support their film Mobile Africa: The Story of a Tech Revolution on Kickstarter today. Check out their teaser video below and see what they have to say!

Continue reading “Did you know the upcoming film Mobile Africa showcases the tech revolution?”

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

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. 

Did You Know you can publish your books or music for free in Nigeria?

Did You Know you can publish your books or music for free in Nigeria?
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.”
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Published by Publiseer
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.

Continue reading “Did You Know you can publish your books or music for free in Nigeria?”