By: Sidee Dlamini
To the unaware, Africa is still known as the Dark Continent; however, numerous trends continue to show how much progress has been made on the African continent. More importantly, there has been a lot of technological advancement that the majority of the world is unaware of. It is my belief that most of the issues faced by the continent will be solved through the use of technology. I envision technology being deeply implemented in government procedures such that efficiency is increased ten fold and corruption is greatly. Of course, technology isn’t the answer to all problems, but it has the capability to solve a few if not most. How might these visions be accomplished you might ask? Well, I myself am in pursuit of that answer, but for now, I would like to explore a few outstanding technologies on the African continent.
1. M-pesa has been a life changing innovation for the remittance world. It has eliminated the need for bank accounts, bank charges and the inconvenience of depending on a public transport driver to deliver money to the village. The most significant thing about M-pesa to me is the fact that it is a reminder that you have to know your environment very well in order to create lasting and useful solutions to the existing problems.
2. SEACOM is one of the leading undersea cable companies. They have created a great opportunity to boost Internet connectivity on the continent. Like M-pesa, Seacom has provided access to areas that were previously unreachable. In 2012, the United Nations deemed Internet access a basic right. I have no doubt that access to information will improve the lives of many individuals; I also hope that there will be more positive outcomes than bad ones produced by the wide access to internet.
3. GSMA mHealth has brought the mobile and health care industries together by bringing solutions to long-term health problems. Patients are able to access basic health information through their mobile phones. The main advantage in this technology is that it allows access to people in rural areas where people have been typically neglected.
4. JoziHub Kenya is one of the leading technology innovators, however this noted hub is in Johannesburg, South Africa. The JoziHub incubator helps kick start and accelerate innovation in the tech and social spheres. These locally based hubs are particularly exceptional because they have the ability to adapt to the local needs. Many technologies and innovations have failed because they were a great idea in one environment and not the other i.e. there was a lack of external validity in these innovations.
5. One upcoming innovation that will be interesting to follow is the CardioPad. The tablet is expected to reduce the rate of cardiovascular-disease mortality in countries with a shortage of cardiologists by using a cardio-pad medical tablet to perform cardiac examinations and permit remote readings. The founder of CardioPad has been nominated for a Rolex Award for enterprises.
These are only 5 of many technologies that are making or expected to make a difference on the development sphere. My hope is that some of you will find one or two of these intriguing and then be encouraged to share other innovations from different parts of the world that you consider revolutionary. I am particularly interested in South-South development trends, because in my opinion these have greater external validity to the African continent.
Sidee Dlamini is a Master of Development of Practice student at UC Berkeley. Prior to enrolling to this program, she worked at UBS Financial Services and then later worked on the ground in Swaziland. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her at @miss_sidee
Great post Sidee! I came across this article that attempts to measure development in African continent:ReplyDelete
I think IT interventions can have more impact if they consider these measurements during project inceptions.
I just saw this post. Dunno how I missed it before! This is a great overview of some of the big tech interventions in SSA--thank you for sharing! Did you hear about the I-Hub in Nairobi? Do you know, by any chance, how it compares to JoziHub? Also, I'm very interested in the notion of South-South flows of ideas, but I wonder if you think that South --> North flows could be useful too. M-PESA-esque ideas are being tried out for Mexican workers in the US to send remittances home at a much cheaper cost, and innovations such as Conditional Cash Transfers and microfinance have def. traveled up from the South. Would love to hear what you think!