When Marvel released Black Panther in 2018, it did more than just entertain. “Wakanda Forever” became a slogan for Africans everywhere to embrace their identity. Vibranium represented Africa’s rich mineral resource. But even more importantly, it showed the world that Africa was also home to brilliant innovators. It has become necessary to represent Africa beyond the stereotype of hunger and poverty. At Ventures Africa, this is one of our most important assignments.
It’s no longer debatable that Africa’s tech industry is promising. The rapid growth of digital skills in the continent is poised to accelerate as it is now home to 643 innovation hubs. Investors are more bullish than ever on the sector, as VC fundings reached a record-high this year. However, challenges slacken the sector’s growth.
According to a report by CryptoInvest, the internet penetration rate in Africa is the lowest in the world. The continent is still five years away from having a 4G connection. Like many other challenges, this is an infrastructural problem. Most of the continent’s internet is by low-speed dial-up connections, concentrated in Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa. According to the Speedtest Global Index, the average mobile download speed globally was 30.89 Mbps in April 2020, while the same for fixed broadband was 74.74 Mbps. In Africa, the highest mobile download speed was in Morocco, at 30.88 Mbps. The highest for fixed broadband was in South Africa at 33.14 Mbps. That’s not all. The report also shows that Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest internet prices in the world. In part, this is an infrastructure problem. But it is also due to a lack of competition in the data space.
African governments are not doing enough to speed up internet penetration, and tech giants are now taking up the job. Huawei built around 50 per cent of Africa’s 3G networks and 70 per cent of its 4G networks. Instead of speeding up growth, African governments are slowing it down. Several African countries are still under dictatorships, including Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Chad. As a result, internet shutdowns are still common. This year, the Nigerian government restricted access to Twitter for its citizens. Today, Nigerian residents can only access the microblogging site through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).
Africa’s education sector still has a mountain to climb. According to Statista, 34.7 per cent of adults (15 years and older) in Sub-Saharan Africa can neither read nor write. Also, there is still a lot of low-quality teaching and learning in African education programs as well as inequalities and exclusion at all levels.
Despite these challenges, notable innovations still come out from Africa. Innovators defy the odds to prove that technology is Africa’s diamond in the rough and is worthy of the world’s attention. We have selected innovations from all over Africa with notable impacts that have the potential to compete globally.
Reeddi by Olugbenga Olubanjo
Africa has the least access to electricity in the world. According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), only 40 per cent of Africans have access to electricity. Nigeria, Olubanjo’s home country, has the most significant energy-access deficit in the world. As a result, businesses have to provide electricity for themselves through the use of generators. This is both costly and bad for the environment.
Reeddi’s self-study reveals that businesses and individuals in Nigeria spend more than 40 per cent of daily expenses on self-generated electricity. Olubanjo tackles this problem by creating a compact and portable solar-powered battery that people can rent at lower prices. With Reeddi’s battery, businesses spend less than 10 per cent on electricity.
Currently, 600 households and businesses in Lagos use the product every month. The company plans to expand further in Nigeria before taking the products to other nations in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Kubeko by Noel N’guessan
Africa holds more than 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated arable land. However, the continent still has a low share in global agricultural production. Several factors contribute to Africa’s low productivity, including post-harvest loss. Agricultural productivity is difficult because smallholder farmers dominate the sector, contributing up to 70 per cent of the continent’s food supply. These smallholder farmers are mostly poor as they lose most of their produce before sale.
In Côte D’Ivoire, Noel N’guessan’s home country, post-harvest ...CONTINUE FOR MORE
SOURCE: Ventures Africa