iHub & iCow: Africa in the digital space

Written by Paper. Posted in Apps, Drive, Innovation, New Media, Start Ups, Talent, Ventures

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Published on October 27, 2014 with No Comments

The word “Africa” conjures up depressing headlines about war, famine and corruption from Nigeria to Somalia to Rwanda and beyond. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As it turns out, digital age entrepreneurship is taking hold across Africa, the home of almost a billion people, with a sizeable number possessing mobile phones. Young educated Africans are connected and actively working on solutions for improvement. Not long ago, the Christian Science Monitor featured iHub, a techie group of “Afro-Nerd Superstars,” inKenyawho work at solving problems from clean drinking water to health care to “social problems,” with technology – much of it using the ubiquitous mobile phones. Also in Kenya there is FabLab, modeled after MIT’s labs. At FabLab they re-engineer existing technology to suit African needs at African prices.

Siemens SL55 mobile phone

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Among the “Great African Apps,” making news across the globe is iCow, a cow management platform for African farmers. At a glance it seems like a simple idea but it’s very useful in the low-tech, no-tech world of African farming. The app tracks everything about a cow that can help a farmer maximize profits by knowing details about diet, milking, nearby veterinary help, and marketing. In short, it’s animal husbandry in an app. With careful attention to their user base, developers of the iCow app rolled out just enough features for the app to be usable without overwhelming the farmer. The app also has a phone center to reassure ambivalent users that they are not alone. Of course there is much beyond iHub and iCow in the growing mobile apps world inAfrica. Such technology is among the most promising ways to bridge the gap between Africa and other parts of the world. And did you know that the latest fast aging demographic is farmers? Average age of an African farmer is 48, while in the U.S.it’s 55.

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