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.

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Accra Wi-Fi Map Launched

On September 2, 2009; I was inspired by Rebecca Wanjiku’s article; Free Wi-Fi hotspot locator in Nairobi to also write on Free Wi-Fi Hotspots In Accra which pointed out the various FREE Wi-Fi spots in Accra about 2-years ago.

This morning, one of my tech and social media mentors; Erik Hersman shared the link to the Nairobi Wi-Fi map which made me decide on creating and developing the Wi-Fi Map for Accra.

The site is designed and built on the Crowdmap platform by the Ushahidi Team from Kenya. Its allows you to

  • Collect information from cell phones, news and the web.
  • Aggregate that information into a single platform.
  • Visualize it on a map and time-line.

Accra Wi-fi Map

Accra Wi-Fi Hotspot map will provide data on all Wi-Fi hotspots located in the heart of Accra. The various categories include:

  • FREE Wi-Fi Hotspots
  • Hotels & Guest Houses With Wi-FI
  • Cyber Cafes & Coffee Shops

I entrust all dwellers, visitors, bloggers and techies in Accra to feed in enough data unto the site. Visit the site: and submit a report of all Wi-Fi Hotspot you’ve accessed recently. You can also submit a report by texting to the number: (+233) 262.220.210

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Call For Applications: DABRA 2011

The 2011 DIAGEO Africa Business Reporting Awards (DABRA) which was launched last week in Nairobi, Kenya is currently accepting entries into the various categories. The 2010 awards attracted 750 entries that were narrowed down to the finalists.

Invitations are welcome from all African countries. Entries must reach the secretariat by 21 March 2011. The Awards ceremony will be held in Central London on June 30, 2011. Remember there are no participation fees.

About DABRA:

The DABRA recognize journalists and editors who provide high quality coverage of the business environment in Africa. Since the Awards’ inception in 2004, Africa is a different place and is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. Against this backdrop, the Awards continue to seek out, recognize and reward excellence in business journalism.

The Awards recognize the fact that more and better business journalism plays an important role in Africa’s investment flows. We believe that better and more accurate reporting generates more business interest on the continent.

General Guidelines:

To qualify for the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards 2011 all submissions must have been published or broadcast in the period 18 April 2010 – 20 March 2011. Submissions in all media are welcome, including blogs, podcasts, online content, print, radio and TV entries. Entries must reach the secretariat by 21 March 2011.

The various Award Categories are:

1. Best ICT feature

2. Best Finance feature

3. Best Infrastructure feature

4. Best Agribusiness / Environment feature

5. Best Tourism feature

6. Best use of New Media in a story

7. Best Business News story

8. Best Business Feature story

9. Best Newcomer

10. Media of the Year; and

11. Journalist of the Year.

For more information, please visit Apply via the Online Application Form here: DABRA 2011 Awards. For Francophone Journalists & Reporters; please Click here to download entry guidelines in French

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A Promulgated Constitution – A New Beginning For Kenya!

A New Dawn For Kenya. Vision 2030

It was whiles in Kenya that I heard the word; “Promulgate” for the first time in my life. According to; to promulgate means – to make known by open declaration; publish; proclaim formally or put into operation (a law, decree of a court, etc.).

Kenya has done it! Yes, the constitution of Kenya got promulgated on Friday, 27th Aug, 2010. I was so glad, blessed and honored to be in Kenya when this historic event took place at the Uhuru Park in Nairobi.

Citizens of Kenya overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new constitution. The new constitution heralds a new beginning for the country. It addresses political patronage, gender disparity, negative ethnicity and land grabbing; issues which have afflicted Kenya since independence.

The expanded Bill of Rights guarantees equal representation for women and increased rights holders’ participation in democratic governance. A lot of humanitarian organizations including ActionAid Kenya laud the provisions for socio- economic rights which guarantee right to health, right to clean environment, right to life and right to decent housing.

“Kenya joins a few socio- democratic states in Africa, which constitutionally bind governments to concrete actions to provide for social- economic rights.  Socio- economic rights are major tenets of human development and social justice.”

The new constitution delivers on many points that have been at the heart of pro-women movement in Kenya since 1980’s. Key among them is the provision for at least one third representation of either gender in all governance structures.

“The new constitution gives the Kenyan women new impetus to claim their position of influence with the governance structures. This is a position women have fought so hard for and must take full advantage of.

The new law also prohibits all forms of discrimination including violence against women and any customary law that perpetuates such acts. The new constitution again gives women the legitimacy to pass citizenship to their spouses or children born outside the country.

The increase in women representation both at the policy and judicial level as provided by the constitution will ensure that the gains made are followed through and fully implemented.  Among other far-reaching changes in the new constitution is land use. Land disputes have been an underlying cause of the blood-letting that followed the last General Election in Kenya.

The constitution says land in the new Kenya will be;

“held, used and managed in a manner that is equitable, efficient, productive and sustainable”.

It sets out to address the disparities that have seen a few individuals own large tracts of land even in highly populous areas by requiring Parliament to “prescribe minimum and maximum land holding acreages in respect of private land.

Next Steps

The new constitution will come into full implementation in 2012.

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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, 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]

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Mobile Web East Africa, Nairobi-Kenya.

MWEA10 Banner

MWEA10 Banner

Last week, I saw a couple of tweet updates from my colleague blogger; David Oluniyi Ajao about the Mobile Web East Africa Conference which took place in Nairobi, Kenya from 3rd– 4th Feb, 2010 at the Hotel Intercontinental. The hash tag for the event on twitter was #MWEA10.

The event focused on “harnessing the potential of the internet and applications on mobile devices”. Even though I couldn’t make it to the event, I followed a couple of bloggers for more updates on the proceedings from Nairobi.

Joshua Goldstein of In An African Minute wrote; the conference has several key themes. To me, the most interesting questions relate to how consumers will experience the mobile web in East Africa, and what this will mean for social and economic innovation. For example:

What handsets, standards, networks and designs will allow consumers to successfully access the content and consume it?

How will the consumer be able to discover that content – through a portal, application, browser, search engine, advert, and social network?

 Erik Hersman of White African and Ushahidi fame did a web-stream from the venue. Following Erik’s blog is just like you were at the venue. Read more here….

 Emer Beamer from Butterfly Works also spoke on Positive Chain of Events. See Emer on the podium giving a talk here: Emer Beamer @ #MWEA2010 Emer Beamer @ #MWEA10

 There were some fantastic speakers at the event, amongst them were Eric Cantor of Grameen Foundation, Vincent Maher of Vodacom South Africa, Agosto Liko of Pesapal and Jon Gosier of Appfrica Labs

 Ghana Blogging Group is working around the clock to host a Blogcamp in Ghana soon.

 Stay tuned for more….!