Monday, 23 June 2014

Africa and innovation

Hi ya'll,

To start-off I would like to mention that the contents of this post are purely based on my opinions and do not represent any organisations that I might be working with at the moment.

So now LEGO!

A few years back I read an article of a young and aspiring engineer that created his own automobile out of scrap parts. Another such occurrence was reported in one of Namibia's northern regions were a young man had invented a helicopter from recycled materials. One more example is based on a young boy that created batteries and a lighting system that he then sold to his neighbors. One common denominator among this young people is that they all had no formal engineering training. This brings me to thinking that as much as an engineering education is needed, many self taught mechanics still open garages all over Africa, where I am from they refer to them as Bush Mechanics. Truth be told, I sometimes have some of those that I trust more than the "official mechanics" because their knowledge is trial and error.

In any case this post is not about the engineering education, but rather on how impressed I am with these individuals innovative-ness. They say the best innovators are those that solve problems that they face everyday. This got me thinking, in most African countries (based on talks I had with other African students), we tend to be consumers and for some reason we seem to wait for some magical being to come and help us solve our own problems. There has been a cultivated culture of dependence of international aid, when in reality if we simple had proper management we could most of the disasters that occur in our countries without the need for international help. I am in no uncertain terms saying that we do not need help, but it is never a good thing to always be expecting help, when will be stand on our own feet. geographically speaking we have countries that can produce more food on the current lands that they are utilizing for farming at the present time, but due to the lack of willingness to adapt to sustainable farming practices that both insure higher yields and a sustainable eco-friendly system, people are stuck with their traditional farming methods. The major thing that comes from traditional farming operations based on existing knowledge passed down from our forefathers is that we know when to expects bad weather and if we integrate this knowledge with more updated farming methods we could find innovative way of solving everyday issues such as hunger.

Another thing that I do not understand the international trade that most African countries practice. I wonder what percentage of imports and exports go to and come from other African countries. There is a high probability those figures are much lower than you would expect. The reason being that  we do not like to support each other feel the need to trust those that are most furthest from us as opposed to those that are just next door.

In the spirit of innovation, we need to learn how to use those materials around us to try and solve our problems or issues or things that irritate us the most within our environments.

My next post will be about indigenous farming knowledge and how we can leverage it to better our communities.


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