Africa, continent rich in digital innovations – La Libre Afrique

On the African continent, digital is booming. Innovations designed by and for Africa bring concrete and social solutions to the daily lives of citizens. A documentary points to examples in Kenya, Ghana and Rwanda: "Africa, the promised land of digital" to see on Arte, Tuesday at 23:20 and in the video excerpt below.

And if Europe had soon of buses connected thanks to a technology developed in Kenya?

The question looks like a joke and yet, it is one of the lessons that one draws from the vision of the documentary Africa, digital promised land *** proposed this Tuesday on Arte. We follow Géraldine de Bastion, an expert on the subject, traveling in three African countries: Kenya, Ghana and Rwanda. Going to meet engineers and creators of start-ups, we can see that Africa has not usurped its status as a model fishpond.

The rise of digital is indeed dazzling. If, with 388 million Internet users, the Internet penetration rate (32% of the population) is lower there than on other continents, nowhere else is the progression so rapid. A development mainly due to the rise of mobile telephony: 80% of Africans own a mobile phone and, according to forecasts, the number of subscribers will exceed one billion in 2020.

This growth Internet connections have been accompanied by the emergence of an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors and particularly dynamic support structures.

With it are developing new uses such as mobile banking : 12% of the population south of the Sahara hold a mobile bank account, while the proportion does not exceed 2% in the rest of the world. Similarly, the number of incubators, accelerators, Fab Labs and other co-working spaces in Africa exceeds that observed in Asia in 2016, according to a GSMA study . Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Morocco and Côte d'Ivoire are at the forefront of this trend.

Kenya is where the exploration filmed by Bettina Haasen begins. Elke Sasse. It follows the development of participatory mapping through software used today around the world. Each user can contribute to the collection of data by sending an SMS, an email, or via the site which is very useful in case of incidents (stormy elections) or natural disaster (earthquake). earth in Haiti).
We continue with the manufacture of 3D printers from recovery equipment or with the development of the Moja platform which has made available a free wifi network in 300 buses and hopes to equip in the end, all of Nairobi, then all of Kenya before exporting to other African countries.

Improving the lives of citizens

The country teems with innovations that improve the everyday life of citizens more modest, such as M-Pesa and M-Kopa applications that allow the payment of gas or electricity for use in even the most isolated villages. There are already 30 million users worldwide of this method of payment by phone (M-Pesa).

Educational kits with integrated solar battery (containing tablets resistant to heat, dust and moisture ), exercises and tutoring by text message (Eneza Education, photo above ): Kenyans are working hard to provide the young generation with quality education.

The trip continues in Rwanda, where the Safemotos app is very useful for day-to-day travel, as are mobile solar kiosks that offer multiple low-cost services. A major asset on this continent where the electricity grid is unreliable
Monitoring of fields by drones (Rwanda), advice, stock market prices and online weather forecasts (Ghana): various services have been developed in order to to provide farmers with better harvests and a better quality of life. Innovations developed by a dynamic private sector, which does not wait for public aid, too slow or insufficient and which proves that Africa is not only a consumer but also a producer of new technologies.

Karin Tshidimba

nb: At once concrete and playful, the web series Digital Africa details and illustrates six digital initiatives developed in Africa thanks to the funny and original perspective of the Nigerian cartoonist Ebele Okoye. An exploration to be continued online on

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