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?”→
The worldwide digital revolution has changed many industries. Automations are changing anything from factories to marketing departments. More and more people are connected to each other, and it communicating across borders is becoming easier and easier. In fact, during my time in Ghana, in many cases I had a better connection than some areas in the UK.
Technology is making a huge difference. Just a small thing like increasing the speed in which doctors can care for patients means better health care for more patients. (And hopefully less mysterious deaths) We have spoken a lot about health tech here on Inventive Africa. Mobile phones are enabling a great deal of felixbility for patients. They can now have contact with doctors remotely, and even send in photos for diagnosis. Other incredible health innovations coming out of Africa include 3D printing medical supplies out of recycled plastic, cheaper, smaller, lighter MRI scanners, loads of malaria innovations and drones delivering blood in Rwanda!
The Zipline drone solution is world changing innovation. They have put into practice drone deliveries before any of the main players like Amazon. But, what happens when there is a shortage of blood. Yes, it is great to be able to deliver it anywhere, but wouldn’t it be better to have the blood already in situ? That is a problem that LifeBank, in Nigeria are trying to solve. Set up by Temie Giwa-Tumosun, who was recently invited to the World Economic Forum on Africa, LifeBank is essentially a blood market place.
The app is an “intuitive blood donor database” that aims at inspiring Africans to give blood in their communities. The app brings together hospital and the blood bank, so they know exactly what is needed, what is available and if there is a shortage, who to target. They then deliver it directly to the hospital, on time. There is, of course, like all African apps these days, a simple payment system integrated into the app.
This system is sure to save many lives. Firstly, mobilising blood donations in local communities is incredibly important. If the blood is on hand nearby, it can be delivered at short notice, no need to mobilise a drone from a 100 km away. People often need blood for transfusions at short notice, especially in the case of road traffic accident victims.
In Africa, data prices are becoming more competitive, smart and feature phones are more accessible to people across the continent, and more people have access to mobile internet. This increased usage of phones means there is space for more and more mobile phone applications, that solve problems specific to Africa. More and more developers in Africa are turning to build apps for their countries, in the hope that there creation will be the next best thing in the African tech world.
A lot of the innovations we are seeing in the mobile world within Africa are coming out of Easters and Southern Africa, but Earlier this month, the West Africa Mobile Awards unveiled this years 10 winners, seeking to bring the focus back to the tech excellence in West Africa. With over 1040 applicants from 14 countries, the awards were hotly contested. Awards were given in the areas of commerce and retail, Fintech, Mobile education, mobile innovation, mobile marketing campaign and social impact, social news and entertainment.
Last week I wrote a little about the incredible work the iSpace, a technology hub in Accra, Ghana are involved in. I spent a lot of time in the hub, taking in the atmosphere and talking to the inspiring young people learning, creating, innovating and aspiring out of the Labone office. One of those that I was introduced to was Emmanuel Mbalam, who has founded a startup called Lending Square. Emmanuel arrived at iSpace for an interview for a position at iSpace but ended up himself being supported by iSpace to develop his business, with funding, business support and event accommodation!
Emmanuel had an air of confidence about him when he began to tell me about his startup. It may have had something to do with being introduced as iSpace’s cash cow, or simply because he has a great idea, which promises to change the lives of many in Ghana.
If you read about African technology and innovation a lot, (and if you are reading this you probably do!) then over the last year you will have heard a lot about the many technology hubs that are being established across the continent. In many ways the tech revolution in Africa is partly due to these shared spaces that things are moving so fast. These hubs bring people together from all backgrounds with varied skills to work side by side, sharing their skills and expertise and pushing each other to realise their dreams. One such technology hub, that I had the pleasure of spending time in, is iSpace in Ghana.
Founded by Josiah Kwesi Eyison and Fiifi Baido in 2013, iSpace has now grown to support over 30 startups with a space to work, expertise, business advice and funding. Josiah Eyison is incredibly passionate about pushing young people to be creative and to support each other. They are also supporting other tech projects for example with their own coding club, pushing women in technology. They even help with initiatives of others. As you may have read in the previous blog, iSpace also supports the CoderDojo project set up at La Wireless school in Accra, by providing much needed mentors.
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?”→
The tag line of Inventive Africa has been that ‘Change is happening now’ in Africa. For more than a year now I have been writing this blog, with the help of the occasional guest blogger, and talking about the tremendous change going on across the continent. The problem has been is that I had not been in the continent for 4 years, so I had not seen any of this change first hand.
So, I have come back to where I used to live, Ghana, to check out exactly what is happening on the ground. It has now been a week living between Sogakope and Accra and I have certainly seen big changes. The first major change that is evident is the amount of construction that has taken place in the past few years. Parts of Accra are simply not recognisable, with huge apartment complexes, hotels and office buildings standing where once chop bars and kiosks where selling their wares. Even Oxford Street, Osu, one of the main areas for partying, has changed substantially. There still a few of the old shops and restaurants around, but now a huge shopping mall towers over the surrounding bars.
Now, seeing development like this is a good thing, but I can’t help but ask myself who is it that can afford to live in such apartment complexes in the middle of the city, and are their any affordable housing projects for the ‘ordinary’ (for want of a better word) Ghanaians.
Another concerning trend is the amount of Casinos that are now dotted around the city. As you would imagine, these buildings are massive and adorned with flashing lights, enticing people in. I ventured into one (for research purposes of course) and found people from all over the world mesmerised by the gaming machines and throwing their money around the roulette tables, whilst taking advantage of the free food and drinks. It is not just these huge buildings that are encouraging people to gamble.
In most football showing bars that I have seen, around Accra and out of the city, there are systems set up to enable punters to bet on the games in play. And, it is not just that. Even in Sogakope, about 2 hours outside of Accra towards the Togo border, a little betting shop has opened up where punters watch 4 screens with 4 different gambling opportunities. They can bet on roulette (electronically controlled) or horse and dog racing. Now, you may think there can’t be must horse and dog racing in Ghana, and you would be right. These races take place only in the confines of a computer! They are betting on cartoon dogs!
Anyway, enough of the negative, there are certainly some positives here! Yesterday, for Easter, I was in a little village Agorhome, for their harvest celebrations. I have been going to this village for 15 years and it is always a joy. This time around, what surprised me the most was that I had 4g connection. In previous trips I have hardly been able to make phone calls, but this time I was able to live stream the celebrations directly to Facebook. Check out the Facebook page to see the saved video!
There is a buzz here in the tech world. There is a lot of enthusiasm and optimism that change is happening. SO many events are taking place, promoting technology, innovation, STEM education, women empowerment, etc etc etc! Just last week I was at the SFAN event, which I will write about in the next blog. There is a huge effort and collaboration trying to push Ghana forward. It is very exciting.
Keep an eye out for the next blogs, which will look at some of the organisations pushing Ghanaian and African innovation. I will also be setting up a coding club in partner ship with Airtel Ghana and CoderDojo, starting from Saturday 22nd.
If you would like an innovation featured, 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!