Did You Know data could create a booming agricultural sector in Africa?

Did You Know data could create a booming agricultural sector in Africa?

Money makes the world go round..right? Well, maybe the tides are turning, and there is another influencer that is pulling the strings of the world. Data! Data and its analysis is influencing our daily lives constantly, whether at home sitting on the sofa watching Netflix, or in the work place, trying to work out how to deliver your product to the right audience on social media. It is even helping you to get to work quicker by letting you know the quickest routes.

But some traditional sectors in Africa are finding it difficult to keep up with the data revolution. In many areas agriculture remains almost unchanged for decades, or even centuries. Traditional methods are used throughout the process, from ploughing the land to selling produce at markets. This means, a large amount of farmers are not utilising data to improve their farming practices, increasing yields and selling at fairer prices. As you will have seen on Inventive Africa over the past couple of years, technology is beginning to be developed for the African agricultural sector. Many of these apps use mobile technology to put information in the hands of farmers, and they don’t even need to have smart phones.

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Technology is letting farmers to ask advice from other around the world, with innovations like those of WeFarm. It is helping them sell their produce online, without having to transport it to market themselves, and also enabling them to know the prices of produces in the market on a particular day without having to rely on the price of a middleman. Technology is even enabling farmers to gain access to farm equipment such Continue reading “Did You Know data could create a booming agricultural sector in Africa?”

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Did You Know Women are Taking The Lead In African Innovation?

Did You Know Women are Taking The Lead In African Innovation?

African women history embraces a huge variety of strong women in society despite a common trend of matrilineal descent. From heroins like Yaa Asantewa of Ghana and Winnie Mandela of South Africa to Funmilayo Ransome Kuti of Nigeria, there is no doubt that women can conquer the world. The road to a woman’s success in Africa is not a smooth ride. Especially in business and entrepreneurship. The struggle to raise business funds is a common issue that many startup owners are faced with, especially women entrepreneurs. With lack of support and mentorship programmes,  patriarchal nature of societies, many women are challenged in running sustainable businesses despite their potential but they keep on rising against all odds.

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Yaa Asantewaa an Asante heroine

In a male dominated sphere of startups and entrepreneurship, She leads Africa is one solution taking steps in breaking barriers in entrepreneurship and leadership for women. It is a free social network community for startups in business and already existing businesses to over 400,000 communities aimed at helping women achieve their diverse goals. It engages online content across Africa to events that promote effective networking as a way of educating women about businesses and to also boost their confidence and self esteem their accelerator. As a result a platform for real nurturing of innovative ideas can be identified, giving rise to overwhelming positive results which have the potential to accelerate personal development.

It is founded by two young passionate women, Yasmin Belo-Osagie and Afua Osie who want to overcome barriers of accounting education, fundamentals of finance access and mentorship to most women across Africa as far as businesses and entrepreneurship are concerned. Their initiative is in partnership with a number of alliances such as Work in Progress Alliance, which focuses on promoting sustainable living incomes, Lagos innovates, which  focuses on promoting technology and start ups in Africa, VC4Africa and many others. Such initiatives have not provided a platform for creativity and confidence development only. The massive growth in She leads Africa through its communities throughout many countries in Africa does signify that more innovative ideas are yet to grow and change in the African entrepreneurship world for women for generations to come, providing solutions and promoting women empowerment in the long run.

 

Women are already playing a significant role in African innovation. This two add to our list of powerful innovative women once featured in our blog. The likes of Lucy Quist is one. She was the first female CEO a telecommunication company in Ghana with Airtel Ghana, a mentor to the youth and women in Ghana. Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja is another, she is a Co-founder and executive Director of We farm Africa. We cannot forget Hawawu Mustapha Yaajalal and her innovation My doc Ghana, one of the most viewed posts on Inventive Africa. You can check out this blog to read more about them.

One article from Imagination defines innovation as a visionary strategic lever for change, business transformation, management, profitability and overall sustainability. It is also a systemic lever that engages, empowers and enables people to affect business breakthroughs and deliver profound culture, system, process, product and people changes. The result is increased organisational engagement, reach, competitiveness, faster business growth and increased business value to enable businesses to flow and flourish in this age of disruption. She leads Africa seems to be walking in the same footsteps with its powerful communities such as she hive, which through its classes in many African countries covers and mixes relaxation, connecting, coaching, brand building, partnering, and speed networking all at once for many women across the globe.

From women having access to different callings than men to having multitasky societal roles, it is evident that women entrepreneurs have far more value and sharpened perspective which can provide sustainable economies for the African continent.

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 share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.

Also, don’t forget to check out and like our Facebook pageFor more interesting blogs about African Innovation, check out our homepage.

If you enjoy reading Inventive Africa and want to support the upkeep of the blog you can donate at  You-can-now-accept-PayPal-through-eMerchantPay.png

 

Did You Know maths in Africa is not so boring?

Did You Know maths in Africa is not so boring?

Senegal like most African history has its our story to tell about historic education systems and their revolutions. Left with little choice Senegal was bound to use software made in France called “Geogebra”. Its practicality in assisting with daily needs and problem solving solutions seems to a large extent  to be questionable in addressing mathematical problems hence Michel Seck`s new innovation ,“Simula”  an uprising mathematics alternative never before done by anyone in Senegal or Africa.

Solving problems is one challenge in life we all face, but through massive growth in technology and innovation, human beings have managed to come with up with real life changing solutions. In this modern world where our capabilities are massively controlled by machines together with the amount of problems and their varying degrees of complexity, Programming has become a tool for problem solving. Thousands of Universities, Colleges and students learning in this faculty are living testimony to its importance and significance.

A Senegal academician legend who teaches mathematics at a University in Dakar also realised this when he created a software program called Simula Math that simplifies Mathematics for his students. Mathematics is a cut across concerning issue in most developing countries. It  is perceived as a tricky and boring subject by many from the beginning of their school life. The reasons for these difficulties and the lack of interest stem from the specific type of subject and the ways of teaching. According to the commission for Developing countries International Mathematical Union Report (2014) , low numbers of secondary school teachers in maths at masters and Phd levels together with few professors to train the next generation of leaders, countries cannot meet the growing demand for mathematicians with advanced, up-to-date training. Further more deficient and outdated infrastructures, instrumentation, and teaching materials coupled with geographical isolation, are still major contributing factors.

None of these limiting factors stopped this young Senegal legend Michel Seck in becoming part of the change he wanted to see in the field of Mathematics. He bridges a massive missing gap in Mathematics with his creativity and all the features it has. One of them is the function of coding. A massively growing literacy of the 21st century which empowers our digital world. Every website, smartphone app, computer programme, calculator and even microwave relies on code in order to operate. This makes coders the architects and builders of the digital age. Organisations like Coderdojo are practical examples of what Michel is also advocating for. According to the author, Simula has nearly 120,000 lines of code. “It allows to do directly exercises of statistics, calculation of the limits and computations of great powers”.

Cryptology , also Michel’s specialisation is a classical subject which traditionally is supposed to guarantee confidentiality and integrity of messages also offered by this software. Algebra applications inclusive as well. Such features  enable graduate students to gain experience on important real-world problems, and understand the applicability of mathematical concepts in solving problems based in different scenarios. Based on his own personal experience, Michel wishes this feature within the soft ware will widen the scope of teaching mathematics in many schools and promote accessibility in ICT to both teachers and students, a problem the country could not solve for centuries.

Linear algebra — the branch of mathematics concerning vector spaces and linear mappings between such spaces which includes  study of lines, planes, and subspaces is yet another feature of the software. It is a very broad field which can allow learners to choose their specific personal specialisations such as machine operations for example. One of the important application of Matrices is to solve system linear equations which are required by physicists, engineers & scientists to solve physical systems in the areas of electronics networks, space craft and many others. What this therefore signifies is that not only does the software equip students with skills needed for majority of  essential job opportunities in the real world but it also improves the quality  of mathematics teaching in Senegal. Maximising student chances of obtaining /creating better jobs as a result. The fact that it is free and will probably be used from high school to University, Michel would have overcome various challenges faced by the Mathematics department in Senegal. Any child equipped with all this skills from Michael’s software can be declared as ready to conquer the world and all the pre-requisites needed to enter into faculties of engineering sciences which require quality maths methodologies.

Creativity in education deals with  new connections, and imaginative ways of thinking. Creativity not only  enables the learner to make connections between unfamiliar elements but also identification of important problems and their connectedness. Curiosity building and openness to new ideas  give rise to new innovators never seen nor expected. Solutions to problems arising are thus continuously found. Michel is a living proof. If many can follow in his footsteps, a new revolutionised Africa may soon be a living reality to many.

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 share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.

Also, don’t forget to check out and like our Facebook pageFor more interesting blogs about African Innovation, check out our homepage.

If you enjoy reading Inventive Africa and want to support the upkeep of the blog you can donate at  You-can-now-accept-PayPal-through-eMerchantPay.png

 

 

Did You Know SMS can improve your child academic results in Africa?

Did You Know SMS can improve your child academic results in Africa?

The Seedstars summit was packed full of innovations from emerging markets. Notably, innovative African startups were their in great numbers, standing loud and proudly. Not only did African innovations seem to be represented far more than the other markets, they won the lions share of the awards in the showcase of the summit. In fact, it was the Ghanaian start-up Agrocenta, that took away the grand prize of $500,000! For a round up of the days news from the inspirational Seedstars Summit, you can see our previous blog.

In the course of the day, we were able to speak to many inspirational people who had come to showcase their African innovations. One such person I managed to meet was Claire Mongeau, of M-Shule in Kenya, who kindly accepted to be interviewed for Inventive Africa. Hear the full interview below.

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Claire from M-Shule

Kenya, like many African countries, has many schools in villages with little access to technological tools needed by students to meet the demand of the 21st century learning. In order for children to receive the optimum education, they need the time and focus of a teacher. In many instances across the continent, it is very difficult for teachers to offer this kind of attention to their students. With rigid curriculums, teachers often find themselves trying to get through the curriculum as quickly as possible, and maybe not spending the time on the topics that the students find most difficult. Another issue is that, whilst many teachers are fantastic, there are instances in which teachers just simply do not meet a very high standard.

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M-Shule aim to “bridge the gap between artificial intelligence and adaptive learning, and make the possible for kids, even with a feature phone”. They do this using SMS learning innovation, leading improvement in academic performance, technology skills. Parents engagement in their children academic life is anticipated to improve, and the whole community support and involvement in education attained. This side effect is very welcomed, as it is especially important to have the parents in touch and engaged in their children’s education. Continue reading “Did You Know SMS can improve your child academic results in Africa?”

Did You Know Africa had the most successful innovations at Seedstars?

Did You Know Africa had the most successful innovations at Seedstars?

Yesterday, 12th April 2018, I sat in the audience of the Seedstars Summit filled with pride. After a few days of activities, the grande finale showcased Seedstars’ best innovations of the year. Over the course of the year, the Seedstars team, who are positioned in emerging markets around the world, search for the best innovations and start-ups. With over a 1000 applicants, they take the time to whittle them down to 65 finalists, of whom 12 would compete on the final day in a live pitching competition on the main stage.

Of the 12 live pitchers, 4 were from Africa, the highest proportion from any region. The African innovators to take to the stage were the Nigerian medication marketplace Medsaf, GiftedMom, a health information platform from Cameroon (Who we have featured on the blog previously), EMGuidance a South African medical content aggregator, and Ghanaian agricultural platform, Agrocenta. With a huge number of African innovators, and participants at the Seedstars Summit, each African speaker got a huge cheer welcoming them onto stage.

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The eventual winner of the overall prize, was AgroCenta, who were represented by co-founders Francis Obirikorang and Michael K. Ocansey. Francis was one of the last up on stage to explain their platform, which had already gained $250K in funding previously. Continue reading “Did You Know Africa had the most successful innovations at Seedstars?”

Did You Know Einstein like brains are enabling African Innovation?

Did You Know Einstein like brains are enabling African Innovation?

Last week the Next Einstein Forum took place in Nairobi, which brought together some of the greatest minds in Africa, scientists as well as business leaders, to promote African scientific excellence, as encourage the future of Africa’s mathematical and scientific sector. For a general overview of the happenings of the event, including the inauguration of a new African scientific journal, and our thoughts on why it is such an important theme, you can check out the previous blog. 

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The Next Einstein Forum, like many African events currently, also promote innovation specific innovations from the African continent. Each time they hold the event, they choose 16 finalists, from over 100 applicants, who feature at the event. This time around was the second edition of the Challenge of Invention to Innovation (Ci2i). According Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of AIMS and Founder and Chair of Next Einstein Forum to “The NEF Ci2i challenge rewards research based innovations and products that have a direct impact on our communities. The selected finalists’ innovations address climate change, various health challenges and push the envelope by proposing new data science or advanced (deep tech) technologies.”

In this blog we showcase a few of our favourite finalists! (But of course, all of them have fantastic innovations that could shape Africa)

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Farming is a science, and it certainly won’t be as successful as you would like with simple guess work. I can attest to this with my failed farm experiment in Ghana, in which the soil and rainfall just was not suited to Jatropha, a so called wonder crop, that was not Continue reading “Did You Know Einstein like brains are enabling African Innovation?”

Did You Know African Women are inspiring African innovators?

Did You Know African Women are inspiring African innovators?

International Women’s Day is today, and organisations, companies and individuals across the world are celebrating the achievements of women. Equality is a well discussed topic throughout the world, yet still now, in many industries women are under represented, and not paid equally. The technology and innovation sector seems to be attempting to close the divide of the sexes. Traditionally only few women have taking up computer engineering roles, and working on innovation, and therefore the aim of achieving parity between the sexes needs a lot of work.

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In much of Africa, traditional social values, and education of the girl child is not a priority for many families and this has had a great impact on the amount of women in professional roles, especially in technology. The democratisation of information, especially with the increasing spread of the internet and mobile devices, means that there are now other ways for anyone to empower themselves. There has also been a huge effort put into getting more young girls into school, to give them more choice in the future.

During the last two years writing about African innovation, I have had the pleasure of reading about many inspirational women, who are coming up with innovative ideas and creating businesses. In many households across the continent it is women that have the responsibility of finding solutions to make ends meet within the family. Creativity takes practice, and the need to come up with solutions makes women very well placed to innovate for a better Africa.

Below are couple of the women that have stood out to us whilst producing Inventive Africa.

Hawawu Mustapha Yaajalal and her innovation MyDoc Ghana were the subject of the most viewed post on Inventive Africa. I met Hawawu at iSpace Ghana, a technology hub that gives many the tools to develop their own businesses. I asked whether anyone would be willing to stand in front of camera briefly for a short interview spontaneously Continue reading “Did You Know African Women are inspiring African innovators?”