Africa’s inventors to get a leg up

Africa’s innovations have mainly centred on technology, a trend that has driven economic growth in economies such as Kenya and Nigeria. Kenya’s growth this year has for example been anchored by the Information and Communications Technology sector.

Trends suggest that with the right support, Africa may yet craft its own solutions. In November over 200 African “thought leaders” came together in Kenya for the Open Africa Innovation Summit.

Some were big. South Africa recently discovered a new way to power important nuclear medical technologies, without using weapons grade uranium, which could help ease worries about nuclear arms trafficking.

Others were small but significant: One Kenyan innovator for example found a way to use fish responses to light and water movement to address a bycatch problem in Lake Victoria.

UN trade body UNCTAD Technology and Innovation Report 2010 found that Africa needs its own “green revolution” targeting small farmers, different ecological zones and suggested that innovation on current practices was a high, but would need support.

The downside has been that the inventions field on the other hand has largely been fallow.

But in June a notable development went almost unnoticed, but which will do much for the continent’s innovation scene.

The launch of an Online Observatory for African Inventions and Discoveries, under a UN initiative, heralds a change in fortunes for one the continent’s more unappreciated sectors.

Source – Africa Review – By LEE MWITI