By Paul Ndiho, Lusaka, Zambia
“Bongohive” is Zambia’s technology and innovation hub – a creative and innovative space that gives young developers a platform to work, incubate new ideas and learn from each other.
An innovations revolution is unfolding in Africa and this year there are many stories about young people creating new technologies and applications that are driving the continent’s growth and turning around its global image. The Lusaka-based tech hub started three years ago and it provides space where young, creative minds hone their skills.
Bongohive co – founder/ executive director, Lukonga Lindunda says brilliant minds have never been in short supply in Zambia, but the channel to develop the ideas and help them grow into successful businesses has been a long time coming.
“Bongohive is a space where we allow young people to innovate; we provide them with access to the internet, to skills development, as well as an opportunity to build their ideas. They get access to mentors, funders and a network that allows them to bring their idea to life.”
Bongohive is behind the app that is generating a lot of buzz in Lusaka. The draft constitution mobile application launched recently, has been downloaded more than 6,000 times. Lindunda says that the app allows users to have a say in their first draft constitution and review.
“We are in the middle of developing a new constitution and we found it fit to be able to put the constitution on the mobile app accessible to different types of people.”
Charles Mwanza is part of a development team working on the app. He explains how it works.
“Basically the app explains what’s in the constitution and how to use the constitution. People can access this by downloading it onto the google play store and it’s available for free. Anyone can download it as long as you have an android phone.”
With a good idea, an entrepreneurial spirit and an interest in all things tech, young people from across Africa are learning that their skills are extremely valuable. Jacqueline Haankwenda is a video editor at Bongohive.
“They were training girls how to use video editing software and camera. So i came to the workshop and then later on, i got interested in furthering my skills how to produce film and edit videos.”
There are similar tech-hubs in Africa like Bongohive in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and all are trying to harness the potential the world’s fastest-growing mobile phone market. George Lupupa Mutale is in charge of outreach at Bongohive. He says their goal is to empower local communities by giving them an opportunity to tell their stories.
“I think that’s the way to go if we are going to highlight African success stories and how we want to see the continent. We have to highlight the innovation side of Africa and show the whole world that Africa is doing something right.”
Joshua Chipile is a self-taught robotics engineer.
“We go online see what projects have been done and maybe try to replicate them or we try to come up with our own ideas.
Bongohive also offers free office space to Cassandra Mtine, CEO and co-founder of Zambia’s “trending” website, shopzed.com where clients shop for groceries and other household products.
“On our site, clients can buy groceries and household goods. We deliver directly to their families or favorite charities.”
2014 has been a year brimming with insightful innovations, it will be exciting to see what Bongohive has to offer next year — and how high will Zambia’s technology revolutions eventually reach.