African creativity points to a hopeful future for technological advances, according to the founder of a global social enterprise community.
“Africa is the continent of innovation,” Marlon Parker, founder of RLabs and Chief Executive of JamiiX, said in his speech “Spotting the Next Successful Innovations for Africa’s Markets” at AfricaCom 2012 today (Thursday).
He declared the “winds of change” had arrived to bring about societal transformation in technological revolution.
Parker referenced unique innovations rising from African soil by referring to the urine-powered energy system by girls of Nigeria, flip flop (recycled rubber) robot cars powered by mobile phones built by street kids and windmill creations.
Parker said these events give hope to inventions on technological base from the continent’s home grown potential, exp. He related the experience of his journey on the Cape Flats where unemployment is not seen as an obstacle but an opportunity to give people dignity in incorporating them as part of the media developments.
The field is ripe for investment and innovation as the younger generation is “technology hungry,” Parker said. However, he signifies the lack of investments as the greatest challenge for Africa.
He point of view by referring to the reactions to ihub establishments in Tanzania, Somali, Sierra Leone and Nairobi. In Sierra, Leone, for example, people walked for two hours just to come into a connection-enabled area to be able to have access to Internet.
“To transact gives people dignity,” Parker said.
He believes the most important issues to focus on are enabling people to transact and connect. The South African leader in ICT for community development and social innovation identified the six areas of development as mobile platforms, open data, messaging, entertainment, needs and mobile money. Apps need to be formatted for local use and entertainment needs to be revolutionised.
The importance of messaging can lead to transformation because with the “access to info lives can change”. There is a great need for educating an abandoning of the “pilot syndrome” with opportunities in need of more than just pilot studies, he pointed out.
Parker’s projects have established initiatives like the Kukua Fund which invests in social entrepreneurs and stimulated improvement in communities like the Cape Flats.