2012 was a great year for young tech savvy Africans who created new technologies and applications that are driving the continent’s economic growth and turning around its global image. The last year also ended on a positive note — with a three day workshop dubbed the “technology boot camp” in Togo that brought together more than 50 young techies and inventors from across West Africa.
Young Inventors from across the African continent are making their mark on the world stage as drivers of technological change geared towards finding solutions for their own problems. Ideas are turning in great innovations, there is an interest in all things tech, and young people are finding that their skills are extremely valuable.
In the West African Nation of Togo, Inventors from across the region gathered in Togolese capital, Lome. They exchanged ideas and showcased their latest innovations in the first ever “technology boot camp”.
The initiative was modeled after the African “maker faire” Organisation, which aims at providing space for African inventors, where initiatives and inventions are identified, brought to life and promoted – Where engineering whiz kids create prototypes of robots and other innovations using locally sourced material including everything from old radios, TV sets, car speakers, plastics and plywood.
Sam Kodo, a young Togolese inventor showcased a robotic arm that pours A drink, operated by a computer.
“You can put anything in the bottle, water or fruit juice, anything you want, and as you can see there is a glass here, so you can pour the contents in the glass.”
Nigerian innovator, Mogbolahan Ajala says these types of events will help increase awareness about technology and give young people a platform to learn from each other.
“I think it has started, the future is clear, because this is more… I see this as a new religion and these are the new prophets, or the early missionaries, whereby we are telling people technology is living, learn technology. So Africa is going to live technology. I’m saying five, ten years… five, ten years, I see it like this (clicking fingers), five… ten years.”
Many of those who participated said the event gave them an opportunity not only to see what other young innovators on the continent are doing, but also allowed them to see how far they can go with the right kind of support. Benoir Vonsa, is a Togolese inventor, who made a 3D printer.
“This took me three days to make, I was really impressed. I did not know that there were a large number of young people who are interested in this. In fact, what I have come to understand is that there are young people who have good ideas, and a good imagination, but who do not have the tools to go along with their ideas.
Guests at the event said they were surprised to see such high levels of talent coming from the region and the use of locally sourced materials. Organizer Sename Kofi noted that the aim was to attract more people involved in innovation to solve local problems as well as create employment.
“I hear many who say that there is no work, so I would like to send a message that this space is an open space where there is equipment to make anything, where there is a team, a team that can assist young people in developing any technology related project. So it’s really a place where one can create his own work, there are tools to achieve what one may want to do, and any support they may need, all for free.”
Organizers say they plan to host the event in other parts of Africa in the coming years and reach more young innovators. With so many insightful innovations in 2012, it will be interesting to see what 2013 has to offer and where Africa’s technology revolution will lead to.