In today's world, the contributions of African researchers and scientists like Sir Geoff Palmer, Clifford Johnson, and Christopher Jackson are gaining well-deserved recognition in the scientific community. However, the overall perception of Africa as an advanced continent still lags. This disparity can be attributed to the lack of significant inventions that have global impact and solve everyday problems, leading to a common misconception among the general population. In this post, we will delve into the importance of innovation, and explore how Africa can reshape its narrative by focusing on practical inventions.
1. The Gap between Scientific Achievements and Everyday Innovation:
While African scientists are making remarkable contributions to various scientific fields, the inventions originating from the continent have not gained global recognition in the same way as those from countries like the United States, China, Europe and so on. Companies like Apple, Facebook, Netflix, Microsoft, TikTok and Uber have become household names, but their African counterparts are yet to emerge. Basically, the lack of practical innovation hinders Africa's reputation as a technologically advanced continent.
2. Recognising the Perspective of the Common Man:
It is crucial to understand that the common man, who forms a significant portion of society, often determines the perception of a continent's development. Those who are exposed and educated cannot shape the minds of everyone out there, and we must not blame them for being unexposed to the complexities of the world, especially when it doesn't directly impact on them. The absence of everyday inventions that directly impact their lives leaves little reason for them to recognise Africa's progress. Instead, they are more likely to associate advanced technologies with countries they are familiar with. Consequently, I believe that bridging this perception gap requires Africa to focus on solving everyday problems faced by its citizens as well as the rest of the world.
3. The Need for Real-Life Problem Solving:
In order to change the narrative surrounding Africa's development, it is essential to shift the focus from scientific research and achievements alone to inventions that tackle real-life challenges. By developing practical innovations, Africa can create solutions that first addresses its own issues such as access to clean water, communications, healthcare, education, and sustainable energy, before it can then take to the rest of the world. New inventions would most likely resonate with the common man, generating the recognition and respect for Africa's ability to contribute meaningfully to global progress.
4. Stepping Up in Innovation:
To foster technological advancement, African countries need to prioritise investment in research and development, as well as support entrepreneurial initiatives. Encouraging collaborations between scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs can lead to the creation of innovative solutions. Furthermore, governments and institutions should provide funding, mentorship programs, and infrastructure to nurture a thriving innovation ecosystem. We must step into being market leaders, as opposed to being market players in the international business setting.
5. Redefining Progress:
The journey towards technological advancement should not solely rely on external recognition but rather focus on improving the quality of life. By developing inventions that positively impact daily lives beginning in its own home land, Africa can reshape the narrative surrounding its progress. This shift will lead to a greater understanding and appreciation from both local and international communities.
Africa has immense potential for technological advancement, and its scientists' contributions are gaining well-deserved recognition. However, to change the perception of the continent as a whole, we must prioritise the development of inventions that address real-life problems faced by its people. We must bridge the gap between scientific achievements and everyday innovation, we can reshape its narrative, gain respect, and contribute to global progress in a meaningful way. We are way past the time for Africa to step up. The best time to start was yesterday, the next best time to start is today. We must begin to invest in research and development, and foster an innovation-driven ecosystem that will lead to a brighter future for the entire continent.