Rwandan Innovator Turns Trash into Affordable and Environmentally Friendly Products


By Paul Ndiho

U.S. President Barack Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship initiative recently brought five hundred of Africa’s brightest minds to America, to learn new skills and new experiences. Among them was Rwandan born Jean Bosco Nzeyimana. His idea to compost household trash, into cleaner cooking fuel for poor families have won him several international innovation awards.Rwandan Innovator
Twenty-one year old Jean Bosco Nzeyimana is founder and CEO of Habona Limited, a Rwandan start-up trying to address the lack of electricity in his rural village of Kitabi. He is part of a new breed of young African innovators thinking outside of the box.
I have a company back home called the Habona limited. It does a lot of work regarding waste management whereby we collect waste and after collecting waste we use them to produce affordable and environmentally friendly products in form of biomass briquettes. We are also trying to do a lot of work in bio-gas, and also trying to produce fertilizers for farmers.
Jean Bosco’s fascination with Biogas started when he was a young boy- and his vision is to create a biogas plant that can transform organic waste into flammable gas that can be distributed to the local population for their energy needs. He is partnering with the government to collect household trash and compost it into briquettes, which he then sells as a cleaner, cheaper source of cooking fuel for poor families in Rwanda.
I’m passionate about doing this kind of thing because I was affected first hand with this kind of problem. We did not have electricity… So I grew up thinking of what I can do for my family. So, I came up with the idea of taking advantage of waste and using them to produce this kind of fuels that are actually better for the lives of people.
In his village, he’s just regular guy, in fact, very few people know about his innovation that is creating a buzz on the international scene. Jean Bosco was crowned last year as the winner of the African Innovation Prize and also he was also recognized in 2014 as a top young entrepreneur in Rwanda.
“Being recognized as being top young entrepreneur of Rwanda was very, very good for me because it showed me that I am doing meaningful things. It showed me that what I do is really impactful to the community, and it gave me some sense of motivation, to keep moving. When you are recognized in such way you cannot stop. You have to keep moving.
For a rising biogas firm like Habona Limited, partnering with the right people in the business can definitely go a long way as he plans to construct a biogas plant in his native country. While here in the United States, Jean Bosco attended Northwestern University for 6-week. The Sagamore Institute sponsored two YALI fellows including Jean Bosco this summer. Dr. Maavi Norman, a research fellow at Sagamore Institute, and recent graduate of Northwestern University, served as a YALI peer Collaborator.
“Bosco is an amazing gentleman. Since, I met him six weeks ago; he has just shown to be a serious person, very intelligent, diligent and a very charismatic young man. I’m certain that he’s going to make some serious strides in Rwanda and even beyond throughout Africa.”
Despite his early success, the young entrepreneur is focused on perfecting his innovation. He attributes his accomplishment to hard work.
When people look at me they say this young man is successful, they say he’s won a lot of prizes, done this and that… But, for me success to me means – What I do to promote my community, success means working hard at my company by providing services that my people in my community need the most.
Jean Bosco Nzeyimana hopes to use this platform to network and look for potential investors. The full implementation of this project will enable his company Habona to distribute biogas and bio-fertilizer to more than 5000 households.
African technology analysts say Nzeyimana has a great idea with the potential to change the image of Rwandan villages. And for young man whose dreams are big the sky is the limit.

U.S. President Barack Obama says when African leaders try to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife.


By Paul Ndiho
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that democracy in Africa was threatened when presidents did not stand aside at the end of constitutional term limits — and no one should be president for life.
Since becoming president of the United States, Barack Obama has visited more than five African countries: most recently he traveled to Kenya and Ethiopia. Speaking to a large audience at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Mr. Obama used his podium to reiterate his broad and ambitious policy of engagement towards sub-Saharan Africa. ent Barack Obama, African Union, Ethiopia
“When I first came to Sub-Saharan Africa as president, I said that Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions. One of those institutions can be the African Union. Here, you can come together, with a shared commitment to human dignity and development. Here, your 54 nations pursue a common vision of an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.”
Millions of Africans and friends of Africa around the world had called on President Obama to use this opportunity to speak directly to African leaders who refuse to leave office once their constitutional mandates are over. On Tuesday, he did just that, speaking candidly about those leaders who over stay their mandates.

“Today, Africa’s democratic progress is also at risk from leaders who refuse to step aside when their terms end. I have to be honest with you—I just don’t understand this. I am in my second term. Under our constitution, I cannot run again. There’s still so much I want to get done to keep America moving forward. But the law is the law and no one is above it, not even presidents. And, frankly, I’m looking forward to life after being President. It will mean more time with my family, new ways to serve, and more visits to Africa.
When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife, as we’ve seen in Burundi. And it’s often just a first step down a perilous path. But if a leader thinks they’re the only person who can hold their nation together, then that leader has failed to truly build their country. In contrast, Nelson Mandela—like George Washington—forged a lasting legacy by being willing to leave office and transfer power peacefully. And just as the African Union has condemned coups and illegitimate transfers of power, the AU’s authority and strong voice can also help the people of Africa ensure that their leaders abide by term limits and their constitutions. No one should be president for life.”
Even though President Obama did not mention anybody by name there are multiple examples of leaders on the continent who have changed their constitutions to personally benefit from them.
For example, The Rwandan constitution allows only two terms. But, Rwandan lawmakers earlier this month approved a measure that would pave the way for President Paul Kagame to seek re-election when his second term ends in 2017.
In neighboring Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza’s recently won his bid for a controversial third term. Burundi’s constitution, like Rwanda’s, has a two-term limit for presidents.
Meanwhile, in Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s longtime leader set the precedent in 2005, when he secured a change to the constitution allowing him a third term. He’s now serving a fourth term and most likely to run again in 2016.
Other longtime rulers include: Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe in power since 1980, Cameroon’s Paul Biya, in power since 1982, José Eduardo dos Santos, president of Angola in power since 1979, and President Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea has also been in power since 1979.
However, there is some good news. The concession of defeat by former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, after elections in March. It marked the first time in the nation’s history that an incumbent leader had been ousted at the ballot box.
Among other African countries working to consolidate and deepen democracy include. Tanzania; Ghana; Liberia; Senegal; Botswana and few others with varying degrees of accountable governance.

Nigerian Teens Design their Own Internet Web Browser


By Paul Ndiho
Two Nigerian teenagers have created a mobile web browsing app that they say is faster and more easily accessible on lower end phones commonly available in Africa and other developing countries.
Anesi and Osine Ikhianosime are teenage brothers living in Lagos, Nigeria. Like many children their age, they spend a lot of time on social media and browsing the net. But the two boys decided to do much more. They developed their own browser known as ‘Crocodile Browser Lite.’
“I had like a small phone at the time when I started, when we started learning how to code and google chrome like the, that was like the main browser on the phone and it wasn’t really functional for me so I decided to make something that can work for myself,”
The brothers taught themselves how to code when they were 12 and 14-years-old respectively using free online resources and reading books.
Now 16, Onesi says they are also motivated by a desire to help people and are passionate about developing the IT industry in Nigeria.
“I just want to solve problems that people have, to make people’s life easier and better,”
Industry analysts have long hailed the explosive growth of mobile telecom technology in sub-Saharan Africa – 635 million subscribers by the end of 2014 climbing to 930 million by the end of 2019 according to a report by communication provider Ericsson.
But those numbers can be deceiving. Development in the mobile and IT sectors depends on the quality of mobile phone connections, subscriptions and infrastructure. The percentage of mobile devices that can run sophisticated games and applications on existing networks is low.
Anesi and Osine see as an opportunity for new, innovative technology. They say ‘Crocodile Browser Lite’ is faster than more conventional browsers like Google’s ‘Chrome’ and can be supported on lower-end phones common across Africa.
‘Crocodile Browser Lite’ available on Google Play store and has so far received 40,000 downloads.
Despite their early success, Chukwuemeka Afigbo, Program Manager at Google Nigeria, cautions that Anesi and Osine need to further improve their browser if it is to become more globally competitive.
“People obviously out of curiosity want to have a feel of the browser and know what it’s like. You know this is obviously going to drive a lot of downlinks at the initial stage//the boys who built this browser that they should keep working on it and keep improving it so that even beyond this stage where there is a lot of publicity around it, people will then get hooked on the browser either because it is superior or there is something it does exceptionally well that makes them use it beyond this hype, quote unquote stage,”
Anesi is about to graduate from secondary school and is hoping to go abroad to further his education in IT. Both brothers have developed a fan base among their friends and school mates.
“They see me as this smart billionaire entrepreneur kid, not knowing I don’t make any money from this and I’m just the same as they are. There’s nothing special about me,”
Their teachers, however, believe its Anesi and Osine’s work ethic that sets them apart.
Nwachukwu Sylvester is an assistant principal at the school he also teaches the younger brother.
“They are very inquisitive. I teach one of them, the younger one is in my class and he is very good, very agile, answers questions and does a lot of research work,”
Anesi and Osine began their coding journey with the encouragement of both their parents who introduced them to computers as early as the age of 3. The brothers say their goal is to become IT gurus and build mobile apps.

Converting Hard Copy Publications into Audio Books


By Paul Ndiho

Audiobooks have traditionally been around for decades, used in schools, libraries and on smart devices. In Lagos Nigeria, a young graduate has found his niche – converting hard copy publications into audio books to enable people to learn on the go.
Tochukwu Nkwocha walks into the studio to record the latest offering in his audio book project. As the producer fixes audio levels, Nkwocha reads through today’s assigned pages. He runs Genitconsult, a company that is converting hard copy publications into audio books.
“Is God to be trusted? Is he really faithful? Is He as faithful today as He was in the olden days? The first thing we need is faith. You have to believe that He will fulfil His promises. The second thing you need is patience. You must be patient because you cannot rush God to do anything.”
Nkowcha’s company has been producing audio books for over four years. They convert between 50 – 100 books a year. Depending on the length of the book, the process can take about eight to ten hours to complete.


“Our challenge now is to move our content online, develop a robust online platform where people can access it as MP3 downloads and also get more books done in audio without the cost of doing that prohibitive to the authors.”
Nigeria has a rich literary history with many internationally acclaimed authors calling the country home.
Writers like playwright and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka often interact with local students and young writers.
Berlyn Ehondo is a teacher and lives in Lagos. She often listens to audio books when she is at home and has made them part of her daily routine.
“Personally, I like to listen to this while I’m at home and doing my chores because it’s like killing two birds with one stone. So I’m doing my house chores which I have limited time to do and I’m also adding value to myself.”
But the publishing industry here still faces many challenges. Access to books is still difficult compared to other parts of the world. Books are not as readily available especially in rural areas and where they can be found, they are often too expensive.
Entrepreneurs like Nkwoche are hoping to make books more exciting and accessible for many more Nigerians. The audio books cost between 13 to 18 dollars.
“Audio books are there mainly as a compliment and also provide an alternative if you don’t have the time to read. So we are not trying to replace reading, we can’t possibly do that. But we are saying there are other convenient ways that you can actually learn.”
Analysts say while audio books have been in existence around the world for many years now, they are an innovative addition to Nigeria’s literary space that enthusiasts believe will inspire more people to embrace a greater reading culture in the country.
In 2006, Nigeria’s census estimated the country’s adult literacy rate at 54 percent.

Have you heard of Kumasamba LaBamba Beach Restaurant in Accra – Ghana


By Paul Ndiho
Having a prime location is a major key to success for any business owner. In this particular case, Gina Grant Dadzie the owner of Kuma samba Labamba Beach restaurant in Accra, Ghana could not have found a better location. This eatery is now the go to place for great food, parties, live music and of course the beautiful scenery.
If you happen to be in the Ghanaian capital — and you’re looking for trendy spot to unwind and hang out with family and friends, the Kuma samba Labamba Beach restaurant – “which means sunset in one of the local directs” in Accra is the place to check out!
“Well I think it’s the way we relate to people. People prefer to come from their homes and come and sit down and enjoy the breeze and have their peace of mind.
Owned by Chef Gina Grant Dadzie, who started it nearly 15 years ago, the Kumasamba LaBamba restaurant has gained popularity over the years, in part, because it serves a wide variety of delicious authentic Ghanaian dishes. She says, they take their food very seriously and the restaurant only uses the highest quality meats, seafood, and produce.


“I make it myself and sometimes, I help in the kitchen when it’s very busy. We have a lot of African food and a little bit of Continental. The best dish that goes very fast is the tilapia. And a local corn dough called Banku
Ghanaian cuisine is quite sophisticated with liberal and adventurous use of exotic spices and textures. Chef Dadzie prides herself as one of the best chefs in town.
“It is in the way that we make it. We season it very well and you see all we’ve made with the tomatoes and the onions on top. We just know how to do the Banku very well. There are no lumps it’s very nice.”
Dadzie’s is looking to expand her business and she is seeking new funding or partners to build a multi-million dollar hotel and restaurant. Construction on a new site has been delayed, but she remains optimistic about the future of her business.
Kumasamba Labamba boasts of an outdoor terrace, a beautiful indoor dining room, and live entertainment every weekend.
Randy Brobbey, a regular at the restaurant says there are benefits to settling on a beach. For example, he says, people often visit to unwind and let loose for a few hours, while enjoying the great scenery, coastal atmosphere — but most importantly the great food.
“It such a unique place, I like the management, the atmosphere and most importantly I like the crowd, It’s a mature crowd. You come in here and you don’t get bothered and I have met a lot of friends here that I haven’t seen in a longtime and I also transact business here.”
For beach goers like Randy Brobbey, dining at Kumasamba Labamba is all about being relaxed and stress free. A beach restaurant needs to have customers who exemplify what positive coastal vibes are all about.

MOBILE PHONE APPS MADE IN GHANA


By Paul Ndiho
Having access to a doctor in most parts of Africa can be a challenge but here in Accra Ghana – it just got easier, thanks to the mobile app “Dokita.” It provides users with first step health advice and recommendations from doctors within minutes. 10269318_900521313304384_1480289035574095682_o
An innovations revolution is unfolding in Africa. Here in the Ghanaian capital Accra two techies have developed a cutting edge mobile APP called “Dokita APP.”
Dokita provides a platform for users who have health related concerned and answers from real doctors. Agana Agana Nsiire is the co-founder of Dokita App
“It works as a regular social network. So, imagine Facebook but it’s not you and your friends, it’s you and doctors. So, basically it’s an online application where users sign up and doctors sign up and then users can ask questions, and then doctors can answer the questions.


Mr. Nsiire says his App helps users to save money on doctor consultation fees and provides instant feedback. Here is how the App works.
“Hello Doctor, I have been experiencing back pains for some time now, especially under my right shoulder. Is there any particular cause? Thank you.”
“Alright, of course a real doctor wouldn’t say this but, “Paracetamol should do the trick,” and send. Alright, so the question has been sent and is displayed now and Steven should receive an SMS.”
I’ve received an SMS from Dokita telling me a doctor has answered my question, “Hi Steven, a doctor has answered your question. To see your answer login at, the link has also been provided for me. So if I were to be using a smartphone, I could just click the link to take me to the login screen where I login to see my answer.
Apps are the rage for a growing number of mobile devices. And young people are taking advantage of this revolution. Daniel Abakah is the founder of Ajumah.com which means “work” is an example. He has developed a mobile APP that helps African freelancers find jobs in other countries over the internet.
“We have tailored this platform just for the African freelancer to be able to go ahead and then do business. So we see it inspiring more African freelancers to even move out and then do most of these jobs. They feel empowered. We target them wherever they are and they still do a good job.
Daniel says that the online platform is generating a lot of traffic and sees potential for growth.
“We have about $ 32,000.00 value of jobs posted on this site.”
Meanwhile, Matrix Designs, Ghana’s leading Integrated Digital Marketing Agency in web design & social media is generating a buzz. The Accra-based tech company also provides a place for young, creative minds TO hone their skills. Bernard Adu-Gyamfi, leads the Social Media team.
“We started off basically as a software company and were developing software but overtime things have changed, so we decided to add web development and social media to it…as part of what we do.
Industry analyst say Matrix design is a highly sought after tech firm. Most their clients love the fact they are a one-stop-shop for all things digitally creative.
“We wanted to create a system where people could put in their information but also take away the area fraud and fake information. So, if you can speak to government systems then it verifies it. Ultimately, it can be translated into a national information or identification system.”
Analysts say this year is already brimming with unique mobile app innovations. Stay tuned to see what developers have to offer next year.

Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/Executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentorship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders. Email:pndiho@gmail.com, Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho

CUSTOM COFFINS MADE IN GHANA


By Paul Ndiho
Have you ever seen a coffin made to resemble a Lobster? How about a lion, a film projector or a Bible. Well these fantasy coffins are uniquely created to capture the essence of the departed – whether a character trait, an occupation, or a symbol of one’s standing in the community.mercedez-coffin_460_wide

Ghanaians are well known for their elaborate coffins, from stools a symbol for a chief to big pens a symbol for teachers, journalists and lawyers. This family run business, passed on from generation to generation has developed an innovative approach to making custom coffins.
“We have the film projector also for an old film producer or something like that. And then we have the crab, which is a totem of a particular clan, we have the lobster, which is also supposed to be for chief fisherman. We have the van, I mean the old “trotro” for a driver, the cocoa pot for a cocoa farmer and the lion for a chief, the spider supposed to be an old person, an old man.”
Like Father—like son, Eric Adjetey Anang has been running this family business, which was started by his grandfather Kane Kwei more than 50 years ago – Since then it’s been passed generation to generation. He has developed an innovative approach to making custom coffins.
The tradition of adding designs or sculpturing coffins dates back to Egyptian times. In Ghana, for instance, hand-carved coffins are popular and can be seen as a status symbol, or a way of remembering the deceased’s job or personality.
Eric Anang’s imagination runs wild in his carpentry shop. He’s made everything from a tilapia casket for a fisherman, to this cocoa pod for a farmer.
“The family comes with the idea of the profession of the deceased, so let’s assume the deceased is a driver, they come with the idea of the car the deceased was driving, so if it’s something I have done before, I could suggest let’s try to do a modern car or something.”
Eric says that the technology of building of the most popular coffins is perfectly controlled. Building is more or less complex according to the form of the model, the desired level of details.

. Although one of these sculpted coffins may cost an average year’s salary in Ghana, families and communities often band together to make such a purchase possible. This is believed to protect the well-being of the deceased in the after-world.
“Depending on a piece but actually is between two thousand cedes, when is to be use locally, but when we have to export it we have to us e good wood, we have to trade the wood and many other things and for that we give it at two thousand dollars.”
These fantasy coffins continue as a tradition in Ghana today and have been commissioned by people from around the world and also on display at various museums around the world.
“2013 I sent 24 pieces to Denmark and just this morning I just to understand a museum bought all the 24 pieces. I was there also myself, I built 2 pieces which has also been sold, I sent 20 pieces last year to Russia and they ended up in the museum, just a couple of months ago, like in January or February, I sent one to Florida, which is in a form of a Seahawk.”
Pretty much any object or thing you can think of. They are painstakingly painted, meticulously designed, and even in the face of death, strikingly lifelike.

Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/Executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentorship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders. Email:pndiho@gmail.com, Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho