Let’s Talk African Innovation – Tech Mistress

Contributor: Tech Mistress is not a so young ‘eccentric’, tech loving lady. She likes to share information in funny and witty ways, to inform but yet motivate. You can follow her on twitter - @AbiikeBlogger, and check out her blog - Mumuocrats.

It was an exciting episode as Aljazeera’s THE STREAM focused on African innovation, african Technology, the growth and challenges. This was an interesting discussion with Eric Osiakwan of African Internet Service Providers Association in the studio and Juliana Rotich, co-founder of Ushahidi via Skype. The Stream is a web community and daily television show powered by social media and citizen journalism.

Africa has been cited to be next emerging economy with cities like Accra, Lagos and Nairobi in the fore front with emerging start-ups and innovative ideas. There is an increase in consumer growth due to the proliferation of the internet and the change in the dynamic of technology and this is unleashing a lot of creativity. In the 21st century, the requirement of ‘starting’ a business is different from what we had five years ago.

Africans are getting used to the ‘virtual’ idea, now you are bound by an office space – all you need is a laptop, a website (not applicable in some cases if you are social media savvy), e-mail addresses and innovation - a business is born.  Problems with power and a shaky economy have however been cited as un encouraging to the emerging start-up entrepreneur who often has to rely on family support and personal funds. There has been a lot of talk about Alternative power- pay as you go solar power, wind energy and hybrid solar energy.

We did an article recently on Omatek’s solar power factory but nothing ‘concrete’ has been in the news on how close SMEs are to getting affordable and steady alternative energy especially with the Kainji Power rationing going on making irregular power supply less available. There is this argument about Trade versus Aid for Africa. Do we as Africans prefer to receive aid from the world bank, United Nations, NGOs or rather, for Trade to be opened up, releasing more opportunities for the African continent? When we talk about startups, a poll conducted listed Mxit as the most innovative app and Ushahidi, a crowdsourcing company as Africa’s startup successful story. The question is, are we going to stop at these?

There has been calls for export strategy with our Open source innovations and increasing the brand value of our Apps. There has also been calls for Africans to think on a global scale – to develop innovations that can have an impact globally. If you missed this episode, you can watch it here.

After you finish watching the episode, let’s have your thoughts. You can use the comments box below to let us know what you think. What do you think is inhibiting innovation in Africa? And how can we turn things around and become a creating continent? It is high time we created more startups success story. The world is waiting…Will we rise up to the challenge and be counted? Time will tell.

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