Did You Know Inventive Africa is back in Ghana!

Did You Know Inventive Africa is back in Ghana!

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.

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Just $5 million for this Accra house!

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.

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Casinos have flooded Accra in the last 5 years!

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!

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Transmitters are now all over Ghana spreading the mobile signal

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 FacebookAlso, we have a new Facebook page! Please like it, and carry on the dialogue about African Innovation there!

Did You Know events across Africa are focussing on Innovation?

Did You Know events across Africa are focussing on Innovation?

Africa is innovating, but in many instances the world refuses to see it. I have many conversations with people that are very sceptical about African innovation. But, within the continent there is a feeling of enthusiasm towards innovation and optimism that innovation can improve the lives of individuals and the continent as a whole.

In these changing times, the Africa youth are potentially best placed to take advantage of the changing circumstances that new technologies are creating for the world we live in. I say potentially because, despite the optimism, Africa is still lacking important infrastructure. Measures are being taken by governments and private organisations to close the digital divide and enable the youth to take advantage of technology and innovation. One upcoming event that is approaching that very topic is the Quantum Leap Career Fair, which will be taking place on April 12th in Accra, Ghana. The event is part of a collaboration between Stars From All Nations (SFAN), who aim to enable the next generation of African Leaders, and iSpace, one of the leading technology hubs in Ghana. The theme of the event is ‘Technology and the Future of Work in Africa’.

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Automations will change the job market

A Mckinsey study suggests that when current  primary school students reach working age, 65% of the jobs will have been newly created and not existed today. Automations are making many jobs more efficient and there is more and more need for computer programmers as well as other positions. As well as being a careers fair, and preparing job seekers for work, SFAN and iSpace are seeking to highlight the importance of being prepared for these new job functions. If Africa can take the lead in these preparations, then it is possibly to close the gap to the rest of the world much more efficiently.   Continue reading “Did You Know events across Africa are focussing on Innovation?”

Did You Know Ghana’s election needs more technology?

Did You Know Ghana’s election needs more technology?

Ghana’s election is finally here. The build up to this hotly contested election seems to have taken a decade. As we write this, Ghanaians are already braving the hot sun, standing in long queues waiting for their chance to thumb their vote. First there were 16 presidential candidates, and then, after 13 were disqualified, there were 3. Now, 7 presidential candidates, including current president of NDC, John Dramani Mahama, and Nana Akufo-Addo, the twice failed candidate from NPP. As with all the elections since 1992, when Ghana had it’s first democratic election, it is likely that the victors will come from one of these parties.

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Ghanaians queue to vote in Accra

In recent years, Ghana has become renowned for having some of the most peaceful elections in Africa and Ghanaians are extremely proud of that. Despite some occasional outbreaks of disruption and violence (one person was killed in the northern part of Ghana last week), it is widely expected to be another peaceful election, regardless of who wins. The 7 political parties have all, last week, signed up to a peace pact, to ensure they will all work against any kind of violence.

So, what other technology has been employed in Ghana to ensure a peaceful and fair election? Continue reading “Did You Know Ghana’s election needs more technology?”

Did You Know African’s running from USA are good for Africa?

Did You Know African’s running from USA are good for Africa?

During the American election night, many funny pictures of African’s were shared around the internet of them waiting with their bags ready to fly home if a certain Donald Trump became president. Samuel L. Jackson suggested he was going to move to South Africa and South African the Daily Show host, Trevor Noah, has often wondered about his position in the USA if Trump came to power. There have even been amusing reports of African’s hoping that Trump wins because it means their family members, who they miss, will relocate back home.

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Ready to return to Africa?

We wrote in a recent post that the African diaspora was equally as innovative as those that remain on the continent, especially as many of them have different perspectives and have picked up different skills and knowledge during their time oversees. If African’s (and some non African’s) really do decide to move back to their countries in Africa, it is very possible that they will further increase the speed of innovation in the continent.

Some of the biggest innovations in Africa have been created and led by African’s that have spent time oversees. For example, Iyinoluwa ‘E’ Aboyeji, of Andela and Flutterwave, spent many years studying and working in Canada. Both of his innovations and businesses are Continue reading “Did You Know African’s running from USA are good for Africa?”

Did You Know the Paris Agreement could be bad for Africa?

Did You Know the Paris Agreement could be bad for Africa?

The continent is in a difficult position. For other countries to develop, they needed energy. They got this energy by burning fossil fuels. Firstly, coal and moving on to oil and gas, damaging the environment and pushing the world close to the point of no return with regards to global warming. Now, this agreement seeks to reduce the amount of carbon pumped into the atmosphere at a time where Africa needs more and more energy in order to satisfy demand. This demand is still not even close to being satisfied, with regular power cuts still effecting industry and individuals. And yet, experts are putting increasing pressure on Africa to change its climate change strategy, to not add to the troubles the “developed” world has caused while developing.

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Celebrating the Paris Climate Change Agreement

A recent article from the BBC outlined one crisis that Africa is already facing due to climate change. Lake Tanganyika, which is a huge provider of fish for neighbouring countries has seen marked reduction in fish numbers in recent years. The lake is “provides up to 60% of the animal protein consumed in the region and is also an important biodiversity hotspot” suggests the BBC article. It was initially thought that this was due to over fishing, but in now, experts believe that climate change is playing a big role in the lakes decline. This not only impacts availability on availability of food and nutrients, this effect jobs and livelihoods of a huge amount of people. Global warming, if it continues and if the Paris Agreement does not change things, will impact many people (and animals) in many ways.  Continue reading “Did You Know the Paris Agreement could be bad for Africa?”

Did You Know Why The Global Financial Crisis Might Have Brought Forward Innovation In Africa?

Did You Know Why The Global Financial Crisis Might Have Brought Forward Innovation In Africa?

In a newly published article, Quartz Africa crowned the 2016 Top African Innovators. Amongst the broad range of winners are brilliant minds working in diverse fields, from Tech-industry to fashion, from medicine to journalism and so on.
According to the article, in order to make it into the list, the innovators portfolio had to comply with a certain set of criteria such as groundbreaking work, thought-leading initiatives, and creative approaches to problems.

Quartz Africas list of Top innovators is just another reminder of how diverse African innovation actually is. I would even go so far as to suggest that no other place in the world is currently boosting with innovation as versatile as the African continent. But why is it that, despite the numerous challenges it’s facing, innovation in Africa is booming? This week, HBR-Blogger Ndubuisi Ekekwe published an article adressing this question.

The article points out how the interplay of economic, political and social forces produced the most groundbreaking result: It helped foster a market environment in Africa where local innovation is so competitive, it manages to force big international players out of the market.
In aiming to provide an answer for the question as to why ‘homemade innovation’ is on the rise in Africa, the article provides an interesting point about the innovators behind these upcoming African companies:

It is a matter of common knowledge that a lot of highly skilled professionals lost their job after the global economic crisis in the late 2000s hit Europe and the U.S. Amongst them there were many African citizens. the article suggests that these African professionals then returned to Africa and, due to scarce job opportunities in Africa, many of them started their own companies in their native countries. Thus, the article makes a valid point: Those highly skilled and educated innovators returning to their homecountries might have just been the human capital boost the continent needed. Furthermore, many of these newly founded local companies are focusing on local problems, thus providing the continent with the technical resources necessary to face its specific challenges.

Ndubuisi Ekekwes article is well worth a read. Check it out here. Find the entire list of Quartz Africas Top Innovators here.

Let me know what you think in the comment section or discuss with me on Twitter (@inventiveafrica)!

Did You Know That Uber Is Not Only Geographically Expanding But Also Diversifying In Africa?

Uber has announced its expansion in Africa and the Middle East a while ago. However, recently there was quite a bit of news coverage on this topic. Apparently, the next city for Uber to launch its services will be Accra, the capital of Ghana. Accra will be the first city in Ghana join the Uber network (Source: Ghanaweb). Just before adding Accra to its global network, Uber started operating in Kampala, Uganda. All this goes to show that the Uber network in Africa is expanding rapidly.

Including Accra and Kampala, Uber is now operating in 13 cities and in seven countries on the African continent – Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Morocco, Egypt and Ghana.

In addition to this geographical expansion, Uber is diversifying its business by the end of the year by introducing UberEverything into its sub-saharan division. UberEverything is connecting Ubers drivers network with product/food delivery and carrier services. From a tactical standpoint, Ubers expansion into the food/product delivery sector makes sense: Since Uber can build on its existing drivers network, the company has to invest very few resources in order to gain access to a large market. According to Quartz Africa, potential challenges could be the lack of adequate infrastructure such as poor road networks and other logistics problems in some of the cities.

It goes to show: Ubers expansion in Africa is far from just being a geographical one. Ubers strategy on the African continent seems to be all about diversifying.

But why is that? The reason could be that Uber is trying to secure its dominant position on the market. In competitive markets, companies have to constantly keep innovating in order to stay competitive. As Quartz Africa states in an article, Ubers competition is growing, and a new upcoming service called Safaricom might just be able to compete with Uber. The local company is launching their ride-hailing service in Kenya that might be cheaper and better for the local community. All this goes to show that Ubers diversifying-strategy might serve the objective to obtain the key market advantage over its competitors.