The innovators behind the big ideas aimed at solving our societal problems are oftentimes young Gen-Zers who are resilient, motivated, and not afraid to challenge the existing world order. Here are some of these innovations that are going to change our lives – and they’ve all been developed in Africa:
InsectiPro is a Kenyan farming firm that uses fruit waste from factories and food markets in the capital Nairobi to produce black soldier fly larvae which is then used for animal feed. Founded by Talash Huijbers when she was 23 years old, the company supplies insect protein to four large animal feed mills and is also testing the market’s appetite for dried crickets. As we face a growing population and the resultant food insecurity on the African continent, Insectipro aims to use insects to address these challenges.
Plastic pollution is a major societal scourge. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), less than 20% of all plastics are recycled, leaving more than 80% of plastics at large in the environment – and plastic production is expected to double by 2040 and increase 2.5 times by 2050. While efforts are being made to reduce the prevalence of plastic in society, there is still a long way to go before this problem is eradicated. Kenyan engineer Nzambi Matee founded Gjenge Makers when she was 25 years old. Her company takes discarded oil drums, laundry buckets, yoghurt tubs and other plastic trash and turns them into bricks that are stronger, cheaper and lighter than concrete. Thus far they have managed to recycle over 100 tonnes of plastic waste.
Keller Rinaudo Cliffton, co-founded Zipline when he was 27-years-old. The company builds drones and uses them to deliver blood bags and other medical necessities to clinics in Africa. Zipline began drone deliveries in Rwanda in late 2016. Drone delivery of life saving medicine is an effective solution because it enables delivery to hard to reach areas and in record time. Delivery by drone has yet to become commonplace but will definitely be part of our future.
AI for good
While there are many disadvantages of AI, there are numerous instances where it is being used for the benefit of humankind. Natural disasters are on the rise due to climate change and a self-learning algorithm called FUNES links early warnings with rapid financing for early action. This system was successfully tested during the 2016 floods in the West African nation of Togo. Algorithms such as this can help charities and aid organisations improve the way they help disaster victims from reducing the time taken to assess damage to using social media to analyse vital on-the-ground information.
3D printed homes
Students at the University of Johannesburg have successfully built a six room RDP house in one day using 3D Printing. Currently, in the densely populated cities around Africa, there is not enough housing for the indigent members of society. Africa has been experiencing rapid urbanisation in recent decades and there is a growing housing crisis. These homes are cheaper and faster than conventional construction, plus they are more eco-friendly because of the shorter process and less waste. 3D printing homes could revolutionise urban low-cost housing in the short-term.
The global metaverse fashion market size is expected to grow by US$6.61-billion from 2021 to 2026. Fashion brands have begun to embrace digital clothing for avatars and Africa has produced our own virtual designers. Hadeeart Atelier is one such example. It is a start-up dedicated to creating virtual fashion. Founded by Nigerian Idiat Shiole in 2018, it has amassed a huge clientele both locally and internationally. Her designs are for gaming clients like Decentraland and she has also collaborated with big names like Fabricant.
In an era where foresight, problem solving and left field thinking are the new business currency, Flux Trends is proud to announce the launch of the Flux Innovation Tour 2023: Meet the Solution-Based, Future Innovators Defining the New World Order taking place this June 15th 2023 in Johannesburg. This unique full-day tour is designed to simultaneously shift your thinking and challenge your perceptions of the innovation process by – literally – introducing delegates to the future. Specifically, by introducing you to the young innovators, creatives and entrepreneurs building the future of South Africa, Africa, and the world.
Faeeza Khan is Head of Research at Flux Trends Analysis