ICT Clinic (Sunday Punch)

Tackling Africa’s problems with innovation [ICT Clinic]

I am an unrepentant believer in the assertion that only Africans can solve Africa’s problems. Yes, they might use a bit of outside help but the onus of what would produce better results rests in the brains and hands of Africans.

One thing I have observed working closely with start-ups and interviewing founders of various types is that business plans or ideas imported from outside without local adaptation hardly ever work.

Africa may be behind the rest of the world when it comes to churning out innovative ideas but it does not mean that some of her enterprising youths are not pushing boundaries despite very little support and difficult economic conditions.

There are a number of innovative solutions that have been developed by Africans such as Mubser, a navigational aid tool designed for the visually impaired, designed by Khaled Shady, an Egyptia and Mellowcab, a high-tech electric Pedicab manufactured from recycled materials developed by a South African.

There are also Neil du Preez; the Cardiopad, a touch screen medical tablet that enables the carrying out of heart examinations such as ECG, developed by Arthur Zang, a Cameroonian and UMT, which stands for Urine Malaria Test, a rapid non-blood diagnostic medical device that can diagnose malaria in less than 25 minutes developed by Dr. Eddy Agbo, a Nigerian.

I could go on and on sharing unique solutions and ideas that Africans too have developed at one point or the other.

However, for the purpose of this piece, I’d love to share some of the factors that I believe will help Africans become more innovative and her governments have to ensure that a conducive, supportive environment is created through the right policies.

So here we go:

1. Increase investments in education

The United Nations reports that education is key to realising all its sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030. The point is that without adequate investments in education, Africa will not be able to play in the knowledge economy. The foundation of any highly innovative country is quality education across all levels.

Rwanda seems to be taking the lead because today, her public school systems have been revamped so much that private schools are running out of students. Nigeria should borrow a leaf and start investing in education as well.

2. Challenge the status quo

Innovation is triggered by the quest to change how things are currently done with a view to simplifying the process, reducing its cost or size, function and any other feature that is capable of improving it.

In other words, if there is no drive to improve on or change something, it will still be done now as it was being — Finish Reading on the Punch