“Technology is best when it brings people together and makes the world better.” This quote aptly captures my thoughts as I write this article.
Every now and then we are always dazzled with a new tech lingua or as the folks at Silicon Valley call it “tech buzz word” without truly understanding what it means or if it has any impact on us.
This curiosity led me on a discovery journey alongside my transition into the Tech space, it didn’t take long for me to identify a void that needed filling – ‘Tech-Illiteracy’ (Yes, I just created a new buzz word….Lol) which birthed one of my biggest goals in the tech ecosystem- Tech Inclusion.
I will like to highlight some clever innovations that have transformed the way Africans live and operate in Africa in the simplest and inclusive way;
M-Pesa: A phone-based money transfer system launched in 2007 in Kenya and has grown to processing over processed 6 billion transactions for 30 Million users worldwide. What more validation will a startup need after this tweet by Bill Gates “Kenya’s M-Pesa proves that when people are empowered, they will use digital tech to innovate on their own behalf”.
iCow: As the population continues to grow by over 2.7% annually, food security is very important and that is what birthed Kenyan start-up iCow which launched in 2011 where registered farmers are sent useful data and advice on best practice, and can see measurable improvements to yields in as little as three months. iCow communicates via SMS which is proving to be successful as they have an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 users, 70 to 80% of them in Kenya while others in Ethiopia and Tanzania.
Sproxil: The epidemic of Fake drugs has been a lingering problem in most African countries. But in 2019, a Ghanaian founder of Sproxil pioneered a simple product where users simply text a code on medicine containers to a free number to confirm authenticity. Employed initially in West Africa, Sproxil’s products are now used in five countries across three continents.
SafeMotos: Africa’s roads are the most dangerous in the world, with traffic accidents causing more deaths than malaria in many countries. In Rwanda, 80% of accidents involve the 20,000 taxis in the capital, Kigali being the second leading cause of death after HIV/AIDS. In 2010, two business partners Peter Kariuki and Barrett Nash came up with an app through which users could order taxis piloted by experienced drivers who have been screened and are then monitored for safe driving using data collected by telemetric sensors in their smartphones.
Sun Exchange: We get jokes every so often about how the color of the black man is due to the excess amount of Sun we receive on our skin. Well a business idea has come out of that – South African startup Sun Exchange. The idea is simple and executable; they and their partners identify suitable places for small-scale solar installations, notably locations that receive a lot of sun but would benefit from a cheap and regular power supply. Then micro investors are invited to buy a stake, and the necessary funds are raised. When the installation is completed, the villagers get affordable power and the investors get a steady return. The startup has attracted more than 14,000 members in 90 countries.
M-Kopa: Say hello to yet another Kenyan startup that saves the planet by reducing the emissions and provide hours of “fume-free light” per month. As of January 2018, after 6 years since launching in 2012, has connected more than 600,000 homes in East Africa to solar power sources.
Kodjo Afate Gnikou: Due to worrisome rise in electronic waste across the world (50 million tonnes as of 2019) A young inventor in Togo, Kodjo Afate Gnikou, turned the wastes into value in 2013, creating a cheap 3D printer using electronic waste. He worked from Woelab, a community for innovation situated in Lomé, Togo.
With the right literacy tools, techniques, partners and a requisite backing from the Government, Africa has the potential to have our version of China’s Shenzhen (one of the most dynamic and exciting cities, with a strong reputation for innovation and technology) or Silicon Valley; a region in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California that serves as a global center for high technology, innovation, and social media.
A burgeoning innovation community in Africa will attract large numbers of startups, and greatly improve chances on global success.
I will close with this question – how do we plan to ensure that Aisha who comes from a village in Maiduguri gets access to basic education in digital literacy while there is an ongoing infrastructure construction that enables them to receive advanced knowledge.
We are all thinkers and pacesetters who can lead the revolution of possibility. Are You ready?
Eniola Edun likes to call herself a Tech Evangelist on a mission of Inclusion.
With over 8 years’ experience in Marketing Strategy and communications servicing multinational corporations such as Mastercard, Coca-Cola, Samsung, MTN, Stanbic IBTC, Unilever etc. in her previous roles. She is currently the General Manager of Techplus, leading the transformation of the company from a technology asset to a social enterprise platform. She is presently a Board member at The Lighthouse Network – a NGO lighting women’s path.
Eniola is passionate about God, Family, Technology and helping young women/girls get seats at tables that matter.