The fourth edition is here- of the Quartz Africa Innovators, an annual series identifying some of the most ambitious and imaginative minds on the African continent. The 30 movers and thinkers on this list range across fields from the arts and science to technology and entrepreneurship and beyond.
In congratulating all, I recommend reading the details and about the inspiring work at QUARTZ AFRICA.
“We’ve never believed innovation is simply about technology and gadgets. It’s about innovative thinking in all areas—challenging norms and going past safe expectations. The kind of innovation that drives making strides to end a killer disease, change agriculture with technology or bend and blend artistic genres.” Yinka Adegoke, Quartz Africa editor
- Ghana: Ghanaian Jojo Abot has fused folklore, history, and afrofuturism to create a multidisciplinary platform rooted in Africa, but with a global outlook.
- Nigeria: Oshi Agabi, a theoretical physicist, focuses on the intersection of technology and neurobiology. Agabi believes that the synthesis of the two could provide solutions for everyday challenges and open up a multitude of opportunities.
- Ethiopia: Hopeful stories about Ethiopia’s changing political and economic climate have received a lot of attention in recent months. The turnaround in the nation’s trajectory is in part thanks to activists like Zelalem Kibret, who documented government impunityfor years.
- The Gambia: Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh’s forced exit from the country last year meant YaAdam Fye and her family were finally able to return home. They’d fled Jammeh’s rule when Fye was a child, settling in the United States. On her return, Fye wanted to do something that would give a new generation a different childhood. While in exile, Fye, her mother, and her sisters, started writing a series of children’s books that aim to give Gambian children a hopeful image of themselves. In one, readers follow the adventures of a princess of an ancient African kingdom to learn more about the continent.
- Nigeria: Onyeka Akumah’s agribusiness startup, FarmCrowdy. The startup’s “crowd-farming” model allows Nigerians to sponsor smallholder farmers—who make up 80% of the country’s farmer population—for a share of profits upon harvest.
- Kenya: Public spaces consultant, Nabila Alibhai’s work revolves around questions like these: How do we transform urban centers into pluralistic, safe, healthy public spaces, and responsibility for our shared spaces? In an increasingly divided world, can physical spaces be used to unite different communities.
- Nigeria: It’s not enough for Bibi Bakare-Yusuf that Africans tell their own stories: they should also own the means of their distribution. Bakare founded Cassava Republic in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja in 2006 to meet this goal.
- Ghana/ Rwanda: Moustapha Cissé believes in order for AI to serve all humans, not only does knowledge need to be accessible to everyone, but “the scientific community must represent the diversity of the challenges our world faces today. This year, Cissé co-founded the African Masters in Machine Intelligence (AMMI) at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Kigali, Rwanda. AMMI is a one-year specialized degree in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Students are fully sponsored by AMMI’s partners Facebook and Google.
- Somalia: Abdigani Diriye established Somalia’s first tech incubator and startup accelerator, Innovate Ventures, in 2012. The 34-year-old is one of a number of Somalis who are trickling back after a long period of civil war to help rebuild the Horn of Africa nation.
- Tanzania: Fredros Okumu has been obsessed with mosquitoes and how they transmit diseases from a young age. As an adult, he has developed a global reputation for spearheading innovative ways to monitor and control mosquitoes, in the hopes of one day eliminating malaria. Based at the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, Okumu monitors mosquito swarms to understand their behavior, from recording how they sense smells (they distinguish between family members this way) to how they mate (by dancing in clusters in the same location, year in, year out).
- South Africa: Africa’s health burdens won’t be eased by more medical staff and hospitals alone. Across the continent, innovative young minds are working on technological solutions that revolutionize care. At the University of Cape Town’s biomedical engineering division, professor Tania Douglas supports Africa’s best minds as they innovate for health—from mobile applications that can detect diseases to non-tech strategies aimed at tackling the stigma of hearing loss.
- Uganda: By 2020, eight African countries could be on the world’s malaria-free list, thanks to increased financing for preventative measures and improved medicines. But while malaria deaths have been reduced by 66% since 2000, according to the World Health Organization, the continent is still home to 90% of global malaria deaths. Brian Gitta, a computer science graduate, was given an impetus by those statistics to invent Matibabu, a device designed to test for malaria without needing blood samples, making the process greatly more efficient.
- Congo: Dieuveil Malonga is on a missionto “write a new story of African gastronomy.” He founded Chefs in Africa in 2016, a business platform used to train, promote and connect culinary talent in Africa.
- Zimbabwe: Carl Ncube made his career as a comedian by criticizing the man who ruled over his home country for most of his life: 94-year-old former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. The 39-year-old stand-up comic took aim at Mugabe’s age and incompetence, and the economically dysfunctional and oppressive state he ruled for almost four decades.
- Egypt: Nora Shawki is an expert in the social and economic institutions, religion, and iconography of ancient Egypt. Her focus is historic sites in Egypt’s Delta region, where the Nile river spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. The growing spread of nearby villages means studying these sites constitutes “a race against time,” Shawki said. The 28-year-old is also using archaeological data to look into patterns of ancient socioeconomic relationships.
- Rwanda: Choreographer Sherrie Silver took to the stage at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards to accept an award on behalf of actor Donald Glover’s musical alter ego Childish Gambino. It was a crowning moment in a blossoming career.
Jojo Abot ● Oshiorenoya Agabi ● Onyeka Akumah ● Nabila Alibhai● Bibi Bakare-Yusuf ● Moustapha Cisse ● Abdigani Diriye ● Tania Douglas ● YaAdam Fye ● Kamau Gachigi ● Brian Gitta ● Brenda Katwesigye ● Zelalem Kibret ● Dieuveil Malonga ● Koketso Moeti ● Tshepo Moloi ● Hilda Moraa ● Nthabiseng Mosia ● Carl Joshua Ncube● Fredros Okumu ● Newton Owino ● Tokini Peterside ● Gregory Rockson ● Charles Rotimi ● Moinina David Sengeh ● Nora Shawki ● Mamadou Gorou Sidibe ● Sherrie Silver ● Conrad Tankou ● Ghada Wali
Thanks to Quartz Africa for this stunning piece of work!
Posted by Melanie Nathan
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