Maker Faire Africa 2011 : Cairo, Egypt


From the Maker Faire Africa Blog:

Maker Faire Africa is pleased to announce our 3rd event, ‘Maker Faire Africa 2011 : Cairo‘ which will take place in Egypt, October 6-8th, 2011.  Join us once again as we continue to cultivate  new and existing maker communities across Africa. As was the case in Accra (‘09) and Nairobi (’10), MFA 2011 will present and spotlight the vibrant and endlessly creative individuals that have come to represent the spirit of ‘making’ throughout the continent.

These innovators, artists and tinkerers will be exhibiting a fusion of the informal and formal; ideas, inventions, hacks and designs both low-tech & high-tech.  From cuisine to machines, come see their re-imagining of products, exploration of novel materials, and original solutions for some of the continent’s most important challenges and opportunities.  Maker Faire Africa 2011 will be a celebratory showcase of unhindered experimentation and curiosity. We look forward to seeing you this October.

Please check back for further updates.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Re-blogged: Meet The TED Global 2011 Fellows Working Within Africa


Re-blogged via Timbuktu Chronicles

5 spectacular individuals with Africa related connections are part of the recently announced TED Global 2011 Fellows class. They are:

Enhanced by Zemanta

African Ingenuity at Maker Faire Africa 10


Over 500 Inventors, Makers, Designers & Artists from all over Africa especially, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa &

Cyrus Kabiru displaying his glass-less glasses at MFA10

Burundi convened at the fore-court of the University of Nairobi, Kenya for the 2-day African ingenuity event which actually showed case a cross section of latest and most creative innovations in Africa and by Africans.

MFA10 was in its 2nd year and was organized by volunteers that included Erik Hersman (AfriGadget) together with TED Africa producer Emeka Okafor, Mark Grimes from Ned.com, Jennifer Wolfe, Henry Barnor of GhanaThink and social designer, Emer Beamer of Butterfly Works.

The idea behind the event is to create a platform that showcases the ingenuity in the informal sector or what is called Africa’s second economy. There’s a great phrase to describe this in Kenya where this sector is called the “jua kali”. A Swahili term for “hot sun”, this phrase refers to those people who sit in the sun on the side of the road making goods for sale.

The event, whose main sponsors included General Electric, Google, Twaweza, Mozilla, and Engineering for Change, aims to promote African ingenuity, technology & development.

According to Emeka Okafor – Event Curator at MFA10;

“We’re excited to be coming together with Kenyans to celebrate the signing of their new constitution… The fair is free and open to the public on both Friday and Saturday; 27th – 28th from 10am to 6pm and inventions will be demonstrated and put to work.”

“There is a huge need for more local manufacturing in Africa. If you take Kenya as an example, the economy is beginning to improve, and a lot of this is driven by technology and big business such mobile operators, ISPs and technology companies. But underpinning almost every single African economy is this ‘jua kali’ sector, the informal manufacturing base that makes it work. There’s definitely more need for platforms that showcase the innovation that happens in this sector,” says Erik Hersman.

There were a lot of inventions, products made from simple materials and a whole lot at the fair. Among the designers and makers that really intrigued I and other inventors at the fair were;

Robert Mburu; a physics teach living in Nairobi was the winner of GE’s Best Innovative Inventions Award at MFA10. His security system links cameras, televisions, alarm systems and mobile phones. This idea came about when his television set got stolen and he decided to use very simple tools to design a security system.

For his prize, he’s meeting General Electric’s Chief Scientist at the John F. Welch Technology Centre in Bangalore, India where he’ll get the opportunity to explore and develop on his invention. According to Deo Onyango, GE Commercial Director for East Africa;

“Mburu’s idea was a cut above the rest and also is in line with GE’s business initiative, eco-migration which promotes being environmentally considerate and producing products that are environmentally friendly without compromising the bottom line.”

Another Maker; Cyrus Kabiru, a Kenyan artist based at the Kuona Trust in Nairobi makes unique sunglasses from recycled material. Each pair of glasses is made only once; each one has its own name and story behind it, and they are each sold for a relatively inexpensive Ksh. 5000 ($60). “According to Cyrus, his work has been the glass with no “glass” made with found object is an idea he developed a couple of years ago. Also, his father never liked wearing “real glasses” therefore his desire to make something of this nature was born.”

One artisan/desinger whose work really fascinated me was Chika U. Okafor from Nigeria. He designed a prototype “Hawker Back-to-School Bag” that transforms into a foldable carrier bag to aid hawkers (street sellers). This way, they can ply their trade with ease and thus avail them the opportunity to educate themselves, train and retrain themselves to further empower themselves for present and future semi-skilled and skilled job opportunities.

Match-A-Maker; a project aimed at connecting Makers/Inventors offering solutions all over the world was made available online at the fair since it was introduced at the first MFA in Ghana last year. NairoBits and BLOC Kenya were the organization behind designing a website/blog for the makers, introducing them to social media’s positive effect on their inventions and also aiding them on whatever way they could technically.

In my opinion, this year’s event was a huge success. Congrats to the organizers for putting up such an interesting event. Hopefully, next year we shall be meeting again for Maker Faire Africa 11 somewhere in Africa.

Maker Faire Africa 2010: Nairobi, Kenya!


In two weeks time, I’ll be traveling to Nairobi, Kenya to attend Maker Faire Africa. This is an event which is bringing together inventors, ingenious craftsmen/women, artisans and innovators under one roof to showcase their latest inventions & products, dialogue between experts and non-experts and also network in promoting their works.

Maker Faire Africa is a celebration of African ingenuity, innovation and invention and will take place in from 27th – 28th, Aug 2010. Last year, I volunteered at the very first Maker Faire Africa event in Accra, Ghana.

According to one of the organizers; Erik Hersman of Ushahidi & AfriGadget;

“The aim is to identify, spur and support local innovation. At the same time, Maker Faire Africa would seek to imbue creative types in science and technology with an appreciation of fabrication and by default manufacturing. The long-term interest here is to cultivate an endogenous manufacturing base that supplies innovative products in response to market needs.”

Among the projects and workshops which will be take place during the 2-day event are:

a). Match-a-Maker: A project which link people who needs some sort of support with their projects and inventions.

b) Entrepreneur Workshops : Talks by various local and international experts on various topics on everything from manufacturing, fueling your business with social media to fostering partnership with other inventors.

I want to say a BIG Thank You to Bertelsmann Stiftung & Future Challenges for making it possible for me to attend and blog at this event by sponsoring my air-fare and lodging whiles in Nairobi, Kenya.

For more information; Follow Maker Faire Africa Blog and also via Twitter: @Makerfairafrica. Photos from the event will be on their flickr page; MFA10 Flickr Page

Kukutana na wewe katika Nairobi, Kenya. [trans; Meet you in Nairobi, Kenya]

Enhanced by Zemanta

My Talk @ TEDxYouthInspire


Growing up in a small trading-town of Keta in the Volta Region, my grand-mother; Madam Doris Degadjor-Deha; a Cereal/Grains  Seller in the Keta Market paid so much attention to Education as the only key to eradicating poverty in our family.

Mac-Jordan @ #TEDxYI

Back in the day, she always makes me write letters to my father by normal dictation of whatever she wants to say and I also try as much as possible to express them on the foolscap sheet from my notebooks…! This was the only mean of communicating between my father and Uncles who were in Accra.

I saw those habits as a means of bridging the communication-gap between myself, my dad, Uncles and my grandmother. Those days of letter writing have really helped in shaping my writing skills till date. I owe my grandmother every bit of my success story. She’s the reason why I’m on this podium sharing my life experiences with you all.

In secondary school; Keta Secondary School. I was a member of the Writer’s & Debaters Club in my first and I later on  became the Editor-In-Chief of the School’s Magazine [The Dzolalian] which was released in time for the 50th Anniversary Celebration.

To some extent, I do believe it’s hard to know sometimes how our life has changed until we stop for a moment and look at how different it is from 10 or even 5 years ago.

In recent year’s social media, likely more than anything else has significantly impacted most of my daily lives. The very first thing I look out for when I open my eyes each morning is my Nokia E71 Mobile Phone…! With this tool, I’m able to communicate, know of the latest trending topics/news and update my followers/friends about happenings around me.

Positive Effects of Social Media

Envisioning the global conversation that has developed over the past few years because of tools like Hi5, MySpace, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter might have been unimaginable for most people at the beginning of this decade. But social media communication tools have profoundly changed my life and how I interact with other people in the world.

Below are the various ways Social Media has revolutionized MY LIFE.

1. Citizen Journalism / Blogging

My friends on social media are increasingly becoming my trusted sources of information, even more than search engines. My Nigerian blogger friend now resident in Ghana, Oluniyi David Ajao recently commented,

“More people are finding my blog from Twitter and Facebook referrals than via Google.com.”

Interestingly, this should tell you how deep people are going with Social Media these days. News (news) is more social than ever.  By getting our news from social media, we know who is recommending and can easily communicate with that person about it.

2. NETWORKING / MEET-UPS

Recently, staying up-to-date with family and friends has been very easy with the coming in of Social Media tools. From writing letters which were either sent by post or hand delivered to today’s modern way of email/SMS has really proven that, Social Media has more positive effects than the negative.

The organizing crew and members of Barcamp-Ghana, Ghana Blogging Group, Maker Faire Africa, Accra Twestival and TEDxYouthInspire all came about as a result of networking via social media tools. By constant staying in touch with each other and working on projects, we know who is available to support any event/project that will be happening and who can play “X-Y-Z” role.

Of course, there isn’t only so much communication that can happen through a social network, but via Tweet-ups and other in-person events, people are expanding these online interactions to face-to-face meetings just like I met RodneyQuarcoo for the very first time even though we’ve been communicating for quite sometimes now.By the way, Rodney Quarcoo was the official photographer at the #TEDxYouthInspire event.

The introductions are initially made through social networks, and then people develop the relationship using phone calls and in-person meetings. In other words, social media is increasingly being used to find and maintain both old and potentially new friendships. There’s been so many instances where friends from Secondary School or University who’ve not been in touch after graduating get to reconnect again via Facebook or Twitter.

3. START-UPS / ENTREPRENEURSHIP

It is easier than ever to start and launch a business today, in great part thanks to social media. We can’t only locate potential collaborators and employees through interest-focused Google Groups, Facebook groups, Twitter searches, and other social networks, but perhaps more importantly, social media gives people who have time, but little money for advertising, the chance to engage with others and promote their business.

While business in the past was generally conducted with those in one’s immediate environment, social media tools, including everything from blogging-tweeting-posting videos on YouTube, has opened new possibilities for both customers and clients. Who we do business with and how we promote that business has moved increasingly online, and for small business especially, social media has proved valuable.

Start-ups using Social Media for advertisement in Ghana.

Start-ups like Meltwater Group, Internet Research, Twists & Locs, DreamOval, Suuch Solutions and some Ghanaian Musicians are a few that are really using Social Media to sell their products and name. A Google search on any of these businesses/Groups/Persons would definitely reveal more information about them today than a couple of years back.

4. SOCIAL ACTIVISM

The practice of using digital technology /social media tools for entertainment, reporting, education, travel and social change is how I define my zeal for activism. Last year, I was part of a few selected bloggers from Africa that participated in the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Before my departure, I really experienced the positive side of Social Media from Visa acquisition, accommodation and air-fare package.

Managing Director of GlobalVoicesOnline, Georgia Popplewell visited Ghana sometimes in October 2009 for the African Media Leadership Conference. I happened to take her for a guided tour around some parts of Accra and Cape Coast. She actually convinced me into writing for #GVO from Ghana which I accepted without any comment after hearing of the benefits/opportunities that come with GVO. In my preparation for the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen; I was approved of a stipend

Chip-In Campaign by Georgia Popplewell

which will help me in my participation in the conference and my successful return to my home-country, Ghana. When the stipend was successfully approved, Georgia played a very important role by starting a “CHIP-IN campaign” on twitter which saw people from different parts of the world contributing.

The following 45 Activists supported my going to Copenhagen to report on Climate Change issues been discussed for Global Voices Online & Ghana Blogging Group; and also add my voice to the climate petition been demanded from world leaders. I want to use the medium to say a big “THANK YOU” to all 45 social media activists who saw the importance of my going to Copenhagen and contributed.

Whiles in Copenhagen, I didn’t only focus on reporting and blogging but rather, I took the opportunity to meet other people, exchange contacts and more… I met dignitaries, Heads of States and celebrities from all over the world. Amongst them are; (Please click on the links for the photos)

The Mayor of British Columbia, VancouverGregor Robertson

Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town – The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu.

Pro-Photographer – Kris Krug and the Fresh Air Center Crew.

Daryl Hannah – Movie Star from the movies; “Kill Bill 1 & 2” and “Splash”.

Kumi Naidoo – CEO of Greenpeace International

Currently, I voluntarily reports on the activity of the Ghanaian blogosphere; summarizing on the concerns of bloggers in Ghana. I’m also a key member of Ghana Blogging Group and Future Challenges by the Bertelsmann Foundation in Germany.

5. Conclusion

Before I conclude, the print and electronic media somehow have made a huge impact in positively affecting the lives of people for sometimes now. It is not really a big deal but to some extent it is; because most people read news items and follows stories from MyJoyonline, Peacefmonline, GhanaWeb and other media outlets but with the coming of social media tools; power is increasingly more widespread. So-called mainstream media is no longer always the driving influencer of public opinion.

Bill Gates signed up on Twitter recently and you would be amazed at the number of followers he received within an hour.  About 100.000 people started following including myself. On Twitter, some individuals now have a million or more followers, Facebook Pages of Movies Stars, Musicians and key influential people also have hundreds of thousands of fans, and YouTube videos get millions of views when they go viral. Most of this content is coming from regular people, rather than big, corporate-owned media organizations.

For example, people like Esi Cleland, Ato-Ulzen Appiah, William Kamkwamba, Ameyaw Debrah and few others  who have over 1000 friends/followers on Facebook and Twitter, have used social media to increase their influence beyond what was possible for “regular people” in the past couple of years…

At this juncture, I know some of you sited here won’t agree with me but in every era;

“cultures go through numerous changes, and in recent years ours has been more impacted than anything else by social media.”

Large media houses in Ghana are not likely to go away overnight, nor will the need to communicate by phone or meet people in person, but social media is providing yet one more means of engaging with people on this vast planet of ours, and if used effectively can give all of us greater choice in how we live and what happens in our world.

I’m experiencing the positive effects of social media since I signed up a couple of years ago. I’m calling on all you sited here this evening to take a bold step and make it point to transform people’s lives with social media.

Thank you….! 🙂

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Why Do Ghanaian Employers Require University Education?


College Life
Image by AdamCohn via Flickr

Yesterday, I had a call from a friend who’s been job-hunting from the middle of last year till now. He’s been lucky to be short-listed for a few interviews but none ever worked out due to the “university degree” menace rocking the nation.

This guy in question is a very practical person when it comes to the field of information technology. He’s just curious to know about the latest IT trends, new software usage, troubleshooting skills and How-to’s but he’s not getting employed. So I asked myself; what is wrong with not having a degree??

Dearest my passionate reader; please help me answer this question that keeps bugging my mind over the above subject.

Question: Why do employers in Ghana demand a prospective employee to have a degree before been employed?

According to a colleague I shared this topic with yesterday; this is how she defines a “degree”. She says; “A degree only shows that a person can follow a set motion of educational learning, but that person might have no common sense or experience at all”.

To some extent, I realized what she said was very TRUE. Do you also agree or disagree with her? This is actually very evident with a lot of people I know who have a degree in Information and Communication Technology, Computer Science and Computer Engineering but absolutely knows nothing. Yes, they know absolutely NOTHING.

Somewhere in August 2009; a week after Maker Faire Africa, a friend asked me to come have a look at his computer because it was acting “funny” and needed to format it. He didn’t even know the steps in formatting a PC, let alone grab an installation CD to start… Would you believe this friend is a graduate from the prestigious University of Ghana with a BSc Computer Science degree couldn’t solve this small problem on his PC?? What is the essence of his degree then?

I know graduates who have first-class honors in the IT field from some of the top universities of Ghana. I randomly asked a few of them to terminate a CAT-5 network cable for use in connecting to a Local Area Network, and they were like flying to the Accra Zoo for assistance. When asked why they couldn’t terminate the cable, their reply was; “We were not taught how to terminate a network cable at the university!” You wouldn’t believe where some of these guys are working now?

Some random girl [a university graduate] who keeps reading my blog and thinks I’m a geeky/nerdy sort of a person because of my passion for tech-stuffs once asked me: “Why is it that I cannot get a job”? My answer to her question was this simple; “You don’t have any practical experience in ICT and for that matter, you need to go for ICT professional courses [Cisco, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle or CompTia] in addition to the degree you have. If you have any of the trainings/certifications in those fields, your chances of getting short-listed and a promising job is far higher than only the so called “Degree”.

How would you compare the “whom you know” syndrome currently rocking the nation to the bureaucracy of yester-years… Continue reading more→

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

TEDx YouthInspire LIVE in Accra, Ghana


TEDx YouthInspire LIVE in Accra

TEDxYouthInspire has joined the rungs of the increasing number of African youth-focused development programmes to be hosted in Ghana. Other events recently hosted here that immediately come to mind are BarCamp Ghana and Maker Faire Africa.

The brilliant thing about TEDxYouthInspire, and other programmes like it, is that it is the initiative of private individuals and youth groups who are determined to inspire positive change on the African continent. In addition, local start-ups, corporate organizations and academic institutions have been quick to lend their support, resulting in tremendous success.

Consequently, bloggers have been quick to give rave reviews. Find interesting articles by Ghanaian bloggers here, here, here and here. This event is for you if you’re a young person between the ages of 14 and 25.

So what is TEDxYouthInspire?

From the event’s website:

TEDxYouthInspire is an open space for the continent’s youngest visionaries to collaborate and reevaluate the possibilities of creating a better global community. A one-day, participatory event, TEDxYouthInspire will use the theme “A Good Head & A Good Heart“, taken from a quote by former South African President, Nelson Mandela, to exhibit how extraordinary youth leaders combine radical thought and integrity of spirit to set in motion unlimited possibilities for a brighter future.

The event takes inspiration from the TED conference.

Who is behind this?

TEDxYouthInspire is being put together by Raquel Wilson (Event Curator), Sharon Brooks (Publicity Coordinator) and Worlali Senyo (Location Coordinator – Ghana). The trio are supported by a team of volunteers who have offered their time and expertise to assist in various aspects of the organisation.

Where and when will it be held?

The venue for TEDxYouthInspire is the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE). It will be held on 10th April, 2010.

Who and Who are Speaking?

Among the various speakers for the day are; Miss Esi Yankah; President & Founder of African Mentor Network Inc, Miss. Shirley Osei-Mensah, High School Student & Entrepreneur and myself; Mac-Jordan Holdbrookes-Degadjor, a Ghanaian Social Blogger. There shall be other pre-recorded talks from various TED Fellows amongst them; Mr. Patrick Awuah, Founder of Ashesi University and Ory Okolloh of Kenyan Pundit Fame

Why should I attend?

1. Listen, be inspired and get motivated

Event attendees will be listening to their colleagues, who have made significant impacts in various spheres, make the speech of their lives. By so doing they will be inspired and motivated to work towards their life goals. African youth will be shown that it is possible to make it in Africa.

2. Meet and interact with like-minded young people

Attendees at the event will be meeting other young people who are passionate about Africa and are hungry to bring change to the continent through technology, entrepreneurship and leadership. At TEDxYouthInspire, you will have the opportunity to interact with people who are brimming with fresh ideas just like you. Who knows? You may just meet the person with whom you’ll start your next project with!

3. Get challenged

At TEDxYouthInspire, attendees will be challenged to start working on ideas that they have just like the speakers have done. This will be the final push to get out of your comfort zone. The message to attendees is loud and clear: “the African renaissance is nigh, get on board!”

What should I do next?

Registration is opened for young Africans between the ages of 14 and 25.

Go to the event’s website to learn more about TEDxYouthInspire. Register at the website before 31st January on which registration closes. Keep your fingers crossed and wait for your acceptance email. 🙂

Credit : Gameli Adzaho; Member of Ghana Blogging Group and Author of the Gamelian World Blog

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]