And just like that, another year is here! 2017 will quickly become a distant memory as 2018 takes hold. Yes, for another week or so we may still write the wrong date on our documents, but regardless, 2018 will charge on bringing us exciting new innovations. We may still not have the flying car, but in Africa, the momentum of change is creating opportunities for many across the continent. Anyone that reads just a little about Africa, and not necessarily about innovation in Africa, will know that the rapid increase in mobile phone and internet usage across the continent has made a dramatic change. This is old news now, but has created a foundation for solutions across all sectors, from farming, to banking and the transport system.
2018 will solidify and build on these solutions. Tech hubs, maker spaces and incubators will continue to drive African youth and entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and push their innovations. Some may not succeed with their ideas, but each set back gives them new skills and better experience to take on into their next ventures. But it isn’t just these spaces that are driving change.
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.
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.
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?”→
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!
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!
The AIDF have a wonderful event coming up in February 2017, which looks into latest policy and project updates, best practice and innovations to improve humanitarian aid operations and infrastructure resilience in sub-Saharan East Africa. Through their event, and communications throughout the year, they shed light on innovations that are assisting Africa. Today they are discussing the importance of safe water and sanitation in Kenya to socio economic transformation in Kenya.
In much of the continent, safe drinking water is very rare, with people relying on bottled and sachet water, that is not always that safe. Sanitation also causes problems, with gutters full of rubbish and dirty water, a safe haven for mosquitos and other diseases. Read on to see more about what AIDF have to say about the issue and how it will feature at their “must go to” event!
3.5 million people in Kenya were identified by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in June 2017 as urgently requiring safe drinking water. Universal access to clean and safe drinking water and basic sanitation systems are key to achieving socio-economic transformation in countries, such as Kenya.
Access to clean water and sanitation can significantly reduce maternal and infant deaths. Safe drinking water and well-developed sewage services reduce the growing spread of communicable diseases, as well as increasing school enrolments and the productivity of working adults.
Migration, in its simpler human definition, is the movement of persons from one place to another. As of 2015, the global population of human migrants according to UNFPA was 244 million, which is 3.3 per cent of world population. The push and pull factors identified were: family, natural disaster, education, conflict and economic opportunities. In Sub-Saharan Africa, IMF stated that the number of migrants doubled since 1990 to reach about 20 million in 2013. Two root causes discovered were conflict and pursuit for economic opportunities. However, various migration studies showed that over the years, there were fewer conflict migrants and greater economic migrants from Africa. In statistics, UNHCR 2011 official data of International migrants from Africa put refugee (conflict) migrants at 14 per cent and economic migrants at 86 per cent.
[Editors note] In recent weeks we have heard of horrific stories coming out of Libya regarding the trade in slaves of many of these migrants, who are destined never to make it to their wished destinations, and it seems maybe not even back home. There sad journey need not have happened, if they were confident that prosperity was possible in their own lands.
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.
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.