Rising to the top

I recently landed on an article about the rising technology giants in Africa (South Africa. Kenya. Ghana and Nigeria) and was disgruntled by the fact that Rwanda was not mentioned.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not blind to the fact that we may not be at par with South Africa (yet) but I think it is good motivation to rev our engines and work our way to the top of the continent.
Alline Akintore
Alline Akintore

I recently landed on an article about the rising technology giants in Africa (South Africa. Kenya. Ghana and Nigeria) and was disgruntled by the fact that Rwanda was not mentioned.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not blind to the fact that we may not be at par with South Africa (yet) but I think it is good motivation to rev our engines and work our way to the top of the continent.

Nevertheless, credit is given where it is due so let’s explore the different focuses in technology adopted by some African countries…

First off, fellow East African, Kenya; with numerous ideas springing forth out, it is rapidly becoming a testing ground for many projects.

One such project is the M4G (Mobile For Good) project that uses mobile technology to improve lives by sending health, employment and community content via text messages. It has been invaluable in providing a platform for job searches-helping hundreds find jobs every day.

Another success story is that of Ushahidi; a non-profit company that uses the concept of crowd sourcing to develop a portal for free information collection used for interactive mapping. Think social activism and geospatial information rolled in one.

Ghana, on the other hand, is a country we can relate to very well; despite the lack of infrastructure, they are proving we can still be innovative and harness technology.

For example, the eCARE project is designed to accelerate extension of clean energy and modern telecommunications services to rural users; it also helps entrepreneurs establish small rural business centers that sell voice telephony, internet connectivity, etcetera.

The ‘Space to Space’ communication centres around Ghana are also bridging the rural-urban communication gap.

The Ashesi University-an institution set up to mould leaders and promote innovative thinking-is testament to the vision of this country.

South Africa is an obvious bet; its advantage lying in good infrastructure and strong ties to the West. Ubuntu-a Linux-based open source alternative to Windows- finds its roots here and adds to the list of innovations from our Southern neighbors that present us with a good challenge.

These, of course, are just a few of many other countries making good progress. I could not end this article without mentioning William Kamkwamba from Malawi who proved that you do not need fancy education and expensive equipment to employ technology to change lives!

Coined ‘boy who harnessed the wind’, he turned around his village when he built two windmills to power electrical appliances in his village and later, a solar powered water-pump that supplied the first drinking water in his village-all this after dropping out of school because he could not afford school fees. This is the innovative fire we should be stoking here at home! Another innovator to look up is Chinery-Hesse from Ghana.

Rwanda’s technological breakthrough ultimately lies in the emergence of sustainable technologies that can be adapted easily and replicated quickly; there are 305 things we can learn from these countries and strategically work our way to being the tech powerhouse of the continent. Obama put it very well,“yes, we can!”

akintore@gmail.com

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