Decades ago, Africa barely comes to mind when thinking tech and innovation, but over time, the continent has gradually and steadily grown to be the home of some of the world’s best tech advancement and innovations with countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and South Africa taking the lead.
In Nigeria, the technology ecosystem has not seen better years than in recent times; the country’s tech space is witnessing a spurt of hubs, schools, and innovations. Today, Nigerian youths are increasingly concerned about solving the country’s problems, and are dedicating their time to develop exceptional solutions.
Victor Shoaga, Ayodele Obasegun, Oyatope Blessing and Otaru Babatunde, are students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) who developed Humane, a virtual sensory software platform for the blind. Humane makes smartphone operation easier for the visually impaired; it lets them perform tasks that they otherwise could not.
Developed as a presentation for the 2014 Microsoft Imagine Cup, the app which has a voice guide, helps visually impaired individuals to select and play music files, browse the web, set or check the time, etcetera. The unique software has a manual controller with two dongles for scrolling and selecting. After the software is downloaded into a phone, the user gets the controller with an identification number which is entered into the software for compatibility. The controller is portable, durable, light, and easy to operate.
Humane is not available for public download. The app is originally developed for companies to buy and add their own modifications. Nevertheless, as a prototype, it is useful to individual buyers.
Though the app has a few challenges to overcome, it remains a useful and ingenious innovation.
Engineer Ayokunle Adeniran is a graduate of the prestigious Convenant University who invented the Iron Rhino, aka the Nepaless iron. The Iron Rhino is dubbed Nepa-less as it requires no electricity to work; instead it runs on Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Adeniran conceived the idea for Iron Rhino after being disappointed by a power outage on a special day.
“Some years back I needed to meet up with my dad at the airport. After carefully selecting what to wear for the meet-up a day before, just as I was about to iron, the power went out the entire time.”
The scarcity or lack of electricity in Nigeria has plagued the country for decades, the result of which is a country with one of the highest concentrations of small-scale generators in the world. This explains the significance of Adeniran’s Iron Rhino.
After working on several ideas and designs, Adeniran finally settled for the ‘Rhino’. To work, this device requires a loaded canister at the back of the iron. When powered, the ironing temperature can be increased or lowered by turning the temperature regulator clockwise or counter clockwise, as with electric irons. One can also pre-calibrate a preferred ironing temperature with the safety knob.
The Iron Rhino is projected to retail for N5000, with canisters that will cost about N120 each; a canister will last a week for 20 minutes of daily ironing.
Engineer Adeniran who currently works at a New York based firm in the United States, saidhis biggest challenge is funding; “research and development process is often very expensive.” The young innovator started a crowd funding campaign at rsvp.com.ng, which is currently on hold.
On the 11th of July 2015, final year students of the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), Ayodele Adeyemo, Eyitemi Egbejule, and Eyo Okon Eyo, launched a Nigerian Open Data Access portal (NODA). NODA is a platform aimed at improving research and development of innovative solutions in the country by providing Nigerians with full access and rights to open data. The portal currently has data on all schools, hospitals, boreholes, settlements, and roads in Nigeria.
NODA hopes to become “Africa’s largest, most robust and scalable data repository that will facilitate universal access to data (Open Data), promote civic engagements, and processes.” No doubt, this is clearly achievable with strategies such as – establishing different local community driven network of individuals for data collection processes, and also developing profitable partnerships with public and private bodies, telecom companies, and regulators.
Source: Hadassah Egbedi, Ventures Africa