Did You Know you can monitor your building project in Africa from anywhere?

Did You Know you can monitor your building project in Africa from anywhere?

Tech hubs have taken seed across the African continent. Every week there seems to be another open for business, helping young entrepreneurs with their ideas, training them, enabling to share their skills with each other, and develop their existing and new ideas. This is not a phenomena that is unique to Africa, but it is having a tremendous effect on the innovation sector across the continent. From my own experience at Ispace in Accra, it was clear to see the impact these incubators have on their members and users. The vibrant atmosphere is infectious with ideas and suggestions and help available from every angle.

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Lagos – Africa’s Start-up Capital!

In Nigeria, in particular Lagos, tech hubs are also having a lot of impact. It was recently announced that Lagos will become Africa’s start-up capital, overtaking Nairobi, and this is, in part down to the work of the tech hubs. CcHub is one such that is making a difference in Nigeria. They are an open living lab and pre-incubation space for users to work on their social tech ventures. Users include technologists, social entrepreneurs, government, tech companies, impact investors and hackers. Recently they announced a 15 strong list of start-ups from across Africa that would take part in its Make-IT accelerator programme next year. We have chosen a few of our favourites to feature below.

DoLessons

Across the world there is a huge amount of pressure put on children to pass their exams. It is not different across Africa, with students across the continent often facing many hurdles in order to pass their exams. Many students work for their family, or have a Continue reading “Did You Know you can monitor your building project in Africa from anywhere?”

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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 Drones are fighting mosquitoes in Africa?

Did You Know Drones are fighting mosquitoes in Africa?

Malaria is a scourge in Africa, which is killing 500,000 people globally, every year. For those of us who were not born or raised in Africa, we know of it because of the huge charity campaigns to raise money to help prevent people from contracting it from mosquitoes. Dishing out treated mosquito nets to families in effected areas has been the main action aimed at malaria prevention, and it has had some success, but there are other innovations that are joining the “war on mosquitoes”. In some areas, such as in Zanzibar, there has been a drop in malaria prevalence from 40% to 1%, which is remarkable.

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Malaria nets have made a drastic change in some areas in Africa

Over a year ago we also wrote a blog on this malaria war, with a number of technologies that are being used around Africa. From the SolarMal, which is a solar powered fan, which attracts in mosquitoes using human scent and kills them,  Faso, a new type of soap which repels the unwanted creatures, or even incredible research by the IBM lab in Johannesburg helping understand potential resistance to drugs, there are countless projects and innovations to try and stamp out malaria by 2030.

Now, other technologies are joining the fight and taking it directly to the mosquitoes, instead of waiting for them to come. And what amazing technology is being used for this Continue reading “Did You Know Drones are fighting mosquitoes in Africa?”

Did You Know the Uber model is changing Africa’s emergency services?

Did You Know the Uber model is changing Africa’s emergency services?

Africa is well practiced at taking innovative models from around the word and adapting them for the African setting. Blockchain technology is being used in a number of African solutions, such as the opportunity to invest in solar energy in South Africa. Crowdfunding is also blossoming across Africa, enabling small businesses to receive micro loans and grow. Another model, which has found a home in Africa is the Uber model (or AirBnB model). Uber has become a popular service in many countries throughout the continent, and has encouraged competition in the transport sector, with Little in particular making big moves in Kenya and beyond.

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Solutions for unemployment in South Africa are vital

But the Uber model, of creating a way of supplying people with what they need through an app, has found its way into to other industries. In South Africa, where there is massive unemployment, people are able to access tradesmen and women and people to work in their houses through an app. And there is even an app and website to help people find space in shipping containers to ship their items over sees. This model is helping businesses grow, and easing the strain on certain aspects of the life of an individual.

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South Africa has really seemed to quickly understand how such a model can be utilised effectively. In a place where unemployment is high, there are also a lot of buildings with Continue reading “Did You Know the Uber model is changing Africa’s emergency services?”

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 Smart Cities solve African Problems?

Did You Know Smart Cities solve African Problems?

Smart used to be a term that was used in school to define the clever kid, but now seems to be used for anything which has a new design. From Smart cars and smart watches and even smart straps to tie things to the top of your car. (I actually saw these on Indiegogo last week!) Whereas some new products are using the word smart to try and jump on the innovation bandwagon, others actually fit more closely to the original definition, using data to connect with a number of other things to provide new services for individuals and businesses in a large range of scenarios.

This could be anything from a Smart watch connecting to devices around your home, or a smart city, in which many different data points are connected via sensors to connect the city and change the way people interact with it. The data comes from citizens, devices and assets and can be used to analyse, monitor and manage the entire city.  Transportation systems, water supply, schools, libraries, and many other city functions can be made more efficient and function more effectively when connected via the Internet of Things (IoT). But how can this help African cities?

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The IoT makes Smart Cities possible!

Cities across Africa are becoming more and more able to handle the internet of things. Many already have 4g connectivity, 3G is possible in most and 5G is even being prepared for some cities, for example in Rwanda and South Africa. Many African urban centres have been badly planned, with traffic overwhelming transport systems, many communities built without planning permission, sewage and water systems limited, and processes such as getting a passport, registering a business or even paying a fine, time consuming and difficult. And these issues could be set to be magnified, with Africa’s cities continuing to increase their population quickly.

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Low water levels at Dam in Theewaterskloof, South Africa. From EPA/Nick Botma

Rwanda is already in the place of investing in sensor connectivity in Kigali to serve the local population in areas of public safety, waste management, water, electricity and healthcare, all topics that a covered regularly on Inventive Africa. Rwanda, by all accounts, has already made leaps and bounds with regards to waste management, and is one of the cleanest countries in Africa. Optimising waste management using sensors, will make the process even better. The system could enable waste companies to know which areas to collect from more often, and even what kind of waste needs to be collected. It could help with recycling efforts and to enable citizens to live in a cleaner more organised setting.

The utilities could also be revolutionised if in built in to a smart city. Firstly, electricity could be saved with sensors turning on lights, and other amenities, only when they are needed. Electricity and water shortages are sadly not things of the past in many parts of the African continent. Parts of South Africa are currently on stringent water rations, and Cape Town citizens only have a few months of water left, unless the rains come! There is no way of combatting low rainfall, but a smart city set up could enable places like Cape Town, and the many other cities across the continent that suffer from similar water uncertainties by enabling better planning of rationing from earlier, and utilise water in industry and for individual use more efficiently, whether for drink manufacturers or watering the garden.

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Traffic in Nairobi

The traffic issue is also wasting so much time and money in Africa. Even those that leave very early to work to get their on time find themselves sitting in traffic with the others that have left early. Sometimes a short journey to work can take hours and things like delivery services are impeded by long journey times. This impacts on e-commerce, delivery of fresh food types, and even on medical deliveries. (Which is one of the reasons why Rwanda started its drone delivery service) Sensors could analyse traffic patterns in real time, connecting to traffic lights and enabling them to more effectively let traffic through. But it is not only traffic lights that can work more efficiently. By understanding where the bottlenecks are, and where people are coming from and going to  at what time, there can be real time diversions, sent directly to individuals, to enable that they find the quickest way to their location, and so that not everyone is going the same way.

Our cities are evolving, and African cities are in a position to benefit in a huge way from becoming Smart. The above examples are just a small number of ways in which citizens could benefit from a Smart city. Health care, education, access to information, tourism, payments, small businesses, taxes, and even the entertainment sector can all be transformed within a smart city. This all depends on access to internet connectivity, not only for the city, but also for individuals. Data from the people is important in understanding their needs.

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.