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Tech Survey: 62% of African Youth Prefer Local Innovations Over Imports

Harare, Zimbabwe – In 2003, Daniel Chingoma, a self-taught innovator announced to the world that he had built a helicopter – the Zimcopter. ...

Harare, Zimbabwe – In 2003, Daniel Chingoma, a self-taught innovator announced to the world that he had built a helicopter – the Zimcopter. 

Known as the ‘lion of water’, Chingoma had proved his innovative abilities by availing water solutions to the country.

However, his invention could not find any support as he had no documentation to prove it. In 2009, he built a second version of the Zimcopter, but again, his second attempt was denied entry into the airspace.

By @Comic24Derick

Four years later, frustrated by the denial, Chingoma, now in his twilight years, released his second album. After he failed to get support for his project, the aspiring innovator tried his fortune in politics, once contesting as a presidential candidate.

In 2010, he had formed a political party, the Zimbabwe Industrial and Technological Revolutionary, targeting intellectuals. But just like his failed innovations, his bid for political office again hit a brick wall.

Generally, lack of support for technology innovation has in some cases curtailed promising inventions in Africa, however, a recent survey by Africa no Filter, conducted in nine African nations believe that everyone, not only the government should drive innovation.
Tech Survey: 62% of African Youth Prefer Local Innovations Over Imports

“Innovation could come from anyone. Government was not seen as the most important driver of tech innovation: Many respondents (50%) indicated that everyone should drive innovation, out of necessity and curiosity,” said the report titled: Africa – innovator or imitator?

Despite the obvious limitations of the poll, conducted in only nine African states out of 54, the respondents said they were willing to support local innovations, over imported ones.

“An average of 62% of respondents said they trusted and would prioritise using local innovations over international ones. This is a perfect opportunity for policy makers to create an enabling environment for innovation as well as for investors to increase their focus and attention on African innovation.”

However, the report noted that, “Although 44% of respondents felt that government restrictions were a barrier to innovation, only 37% identified the government as being mainly responsible for innovation.”

The report, written from a 2021 poll by GeoPoll, explored “the importance of creativity and innovation to boosting their own income and that of the continent.” 

The survey randomly sampled 4,500 people aged 18-35, in nine African countries, reaching 500 respondents in each country. The nine countries were: Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Often, African technological innovations have not received due credit, because of some prevailing stereotypes, the report further noted. 

“The image of Africa as an innovator appears to be overshadowed by the persistent, harmful stereotypes of a ‘backward’, ‘poverty stricken’ continent that is largely a recipient of global north innovations.”

With some African innovators snapped by huge companies like Amazon, the continent’s innovations are making a mark in the world of science. 

“The continent appears to be leading the way in fintech, which is proving to be the main driver of investment in African innovation, with 109 fintech start-ups having raised a total of US$1,111,570,000 in 2022.”

OPay Nigeria is the leading fintech that empowers users and enables them to accomplish more with their money by providing smart financial services. Second is Flutterwave Nigeria, the easiest way to make and accept payments from customers anywhere in the world.

The report added that, “Between January and June 2022, no other region came close to matching the 10 continent's innovation funding growth. In addition, according to the global innovation index, African countries have taken a leap in innovation-driven productivity growth.”

While there were notable gains, lack of infrastructure and high cost of creating and innovation has seen the digital divide continuously widening. Despite these setbacks, half of the respondents had confidence in home-grown solutions.

“It was refreshing to see that the respondents generally had great confidence in the continent when it came to innovation. Even though they identified barriers to success such as poor infrastructure (53% of respondents) and challenges in education (50% of respondents), they believed in homegrown innovation and innovators.”

The respondents, however, believed that with education and internships, they could overcome the barriers to success, while 79% said poor countries could produce world-class innovations, while 72% believed that their countries could produce tech billionaires.

Out of the 20 wealthiest individuals on the continent, Africa’s tech industry has only produced four billionaires. Put together; their total net worth is 14.4 billion, which is 19.37% of the total net worth of billionaires on the continent.

Again, “62% respondents in these countries believed in the power of African innovation, saying they preferred to use local innovations where they were available,” the report noted. “Over a third (37%) of the respondents said they had innovative technological ideas themselves, which they did not know how to monetise.”

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