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    Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts

    Why tech innovators are Africa's future

     Apps4Africa has just announced the three winners of its 2012 competition, showcasing the best in African innovation.

    The winners, chosen from nearly 300 submissions, were Ffene, from Uganda, an app that helps small and medium businesses reduce administrative costs; SliceBiz, from Ghana, a crowdsourcing platform to encourage middle class Africans to invest small amounts in high-growth startups; and Prowork, from Nigeria, which is a project management and real-time collaboration tool for businesses.

    The Apps4Africa competition began in late 2009 as an annual program that aimed to support African social entrepreneurs using technology to solve societal problems. This year's competition demonstrated again that Africa has innovation and a growing number of innovators. But now the challenge for technology entrepreneurs is not merely to innovate and create apps, but to turn them into lucrative business ideas.

    During my trips to Africa while coordinating the Apps4Africa competition, I witnessed from the innovators a real desire to innovate and have their voices heard. But whilst a technology revolution is taking place in Africa, with so many of these young men and women building and creating apps, they still face huge challenges in understanding how to start businesses around their innovations.
    An African future inspired by tech?
    Africa's technology potential

    Most of the innovators are following trends and their dreams, inspired mostly by the stories of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs making it without a clear business plan or any structured road map when they started their businesses many years ago. The reality check has not yet taken place in the minds of Africa's innovators and lots of time is being wasted on unrealistic desires.

    Young entrepreneurs in Africa have a mosaic of demands that need urgent attention. Policy makers need to start taking the young entrepreneurs seriously, as they are the future of Africa.

    The growing number of competitions and gatherings -- like Apps4Africa, Startup Weekend, Africa Gathering, Maker Faire, Pivot East and BarCamps -- help to give visibility and credibility to these innovators, but this is not enough. The young African innovator needs business skills and funding.

    However, preparatory brainstorming gatherings, where people meet to share ideas, cement relationships and learn, could form the missing link that helps to create a culture of entrepreneurship and trust, that challenges and empowers the technology entrepreneurs to do more for Africa, and encourages the funders to support them.

    Now the competition is over, with the prize money coming soon into the winners' bank accounts, what is next for them? Many people are asking this legitimate question.

    One thing is sure, the entrepreneurs have ideas; the proof is that we have banks of apps being developed from the continent. But 90% of the people who attended the Apps4Africa sessions, with their business ideas in hand, need mentoring.

    The ecosystem in their countries to facilitate the creation of companies and a culture of entrepreneurship and risk taking is currently in its infancy or non-existent. Funding is currently a big issue. Investors don't take the technologists seriously, say the entrepreneurs. Whilst their intentions and ideas are good, many of the entrepreneurs that I meet need to be mentored intensively. Investors don't have time for this.

    Rwanda's B-Boys: From the streets to break beats

    Sporting a black t-shirt proudly proclaiming "Live 2 Break," a group of grinning boys form a slightly jagged circle inside a dusty yard on the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda's capital.

    Inside the circle a bandana-wearing dance instructor spins from his back onto his chest flaring his legs high in the air in a V-shape. The boys respond to his virtuoso dance moves with claps and cheers before taking to the floor themselves, twisting and turning as they try to perfect their breakdance moves.

    They are part of an uplifting dance project at Les Enfants De Dieu, a residential care center working to transform the lives of former street children in Rwanda.

    The center accommodates 126 boys aged six to 18 who, apart from their tough upbringing, share a deep passion for an art form that also originated in the streets: Hip-hop.

    "Once their basic needs are fulfilled, they need to nourish their spirit, their self-esteem and their pride in themselves," says Nicola Triscott, co-founder of Catalyst Rwanda, a UK-based group that organizes art programs for vulnerable youth.

    "I think hip-hop really helps to do that, because it's such a young person's art form -- it came off the streets and it's about one-on-one teaching. There's this great spirit of sharing in hip hop," she adds.

    It'll be wall-to-wall billionaires and bling at this week's Monaco nuptials of Prince Albert to Charlene: The royal wedding that puts Kate's in the shade!

    Good news for those who have been craving some more royal wedding glitter. There’s another one this weekend.
    It’s the event many thought would never happen: the marriage of Prince Albert of Monaco, the 53-year-old bachelor head of state of the tiny but rich principality on the Cote D’Azur, and Charlene Wittstock, a South African Olympic swimmer 20 years his junior.
    Glamour: Charlene Wittstock marries Prince Albert this week in a lavish wedding that is set to make Kate and William's look like a village fete in comparison
    The Grimaldi family has ruled Monaco for more than 800 years, and has featured on the global glamour map ever since Hollywood arrived in the form of the last bride to marry into the family, Prince Albert’s mother Grace Kelly.

    Prince Albert and South African former swimmer Charlene Wittstock in a picture released a year ago to mark their engagementThe state may be small, but the event will be extravagant. This being Monaco, a tax haven where you are practically imprisoned for understated dressing, chances are the guests’ jewellery and couture alone will make the Windsor effort look like the Middletons’ village fete.
    Guests are already docking their yachts in the harbour, and knocking back Cristal champagne on the decks. Those trying to book landing space for private jets at Nice airport have been denied permission unless they can prove they have been invited to the wedding.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

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