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‘Africa Tech’ Is Hard To Find At CES — But Worth Looking For

The E-Citizen app from Senegal uses photos and audio recordings. For example, click on a print of a baby and name possibly French or a internal dialect. You’ll hear how to register a baby child.

Kristy Totten for NPR


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Kristy Totten for NPR

The E-Citizen app from Senegal uses photos and audio recordings. For example, click on a print of a baby and name possibly French or a internal dialect. You’ll hear how to register a baby child.

Kristy Totten for NPR

Africa Tech Now, billed as a “No. 1 eventuality showcasing African entrepreneurship,” debuted during CES this year. The problem was, when we went to a Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to cover it for this blog, no one had listened of it. Not a media desk, a information counter or even a Moroccan and Egyptian aisles, that are apparently African yet weren’t partial of a expo we was looking for.

we theory it’s not surprising. Tech innovations from building countries in Africa aren’t accurately origination headlines.

Yet solemnly and quietly, African countries have been ramping adult their technology, many of it centered on amicable and mercantile issues like health monitoring and pursuit creation. Governments are seeking tech-hub status, and investors have taken note.

Last year, a Nigerian startup Andela lifted $40 million to bond African web developers with general employers, and investment groups are shopping into other businesses.

When we finally did locate a Africa Tech Now arrangement (after walking around hopelessly for an hour or two), we found a organisation of 6 startups from Mali, Senegal and Tunisia. Of a six, 3 were innovative, dual had sharp selling materials yet no product to show, and one was a good thought yet still has a approach to go.

Here are a highlights:

Social media for folks who can’t read

Most amicable media relies on reading and typing, yet what if it was voice-based? That’s a thought behind Lenali, an app combined by mechanism scientist Mamadou Gouro of Mali. On Lenali, users can name their dialect, form in or record their name, post vocally and criticism vocally though carrying to review anything. Posts could be anything from personal updates to photos to news. Gouro even thinks people could use Lenali to boost their business. A mango businessman could post a photo, supplement audio that tells his or her plcae and ask people who wish some-more info to criticism by voice posts. “Everything is finished though a need for essay skills,” Gouro says, yet a app does accept combined posts as well. There is one obstacle — a app can’t review posts aloud. So users would have to rest on friends to post voice comments if they need something review or translated. “There’s synthetic intelligence, yet we use healthy intelligence,” he says.

Help for Senegalese who don’t parlez Francais

In Senegal, many information is combined in French — it’s a central language, after all. The problem is, not everybody reads French. Instead, they might pronounce a internal denunciation Wolof, that has many dialects. And some might not be means to review in any language. The E-Citizen app uses photos and audio recordings in internal dialects to assistance people navigate health, courts, jobs, taxes and other amicable systems. For example, clicking on a print of a baby tells we in a denunciation we name how to register your baby child. Clicking on a print of construction workers lists pursuit opportunities. Currently, E-Citizen works in dual internal dialects and French. Entrepreneur Mamadou Diagne hopes to supplement some-more dialects in a subsequent dual years, and eventually he wants to emanate kiosks so people though inclination can use a app, too.

Power in a box

Electricity is tough to come by in farming Mali, so operative Abdoulaye Gackou has combined a Yeelen Solar Box, a solar-energy generator that can yield electricity to 10 homes. It’s mobile, done from recycled element and runs for 24 hours on a singular charge. The box is still in a antecedent proviso yet should be accessible in a subsequent year for around $1,820.

As for a other vendors:

From Senegal, 2v360 provides 360-degree photography to genuine estate and tourism businesses, to give intensity visitors a some-more immersive perspective of properties. The website is impressive, yet a repute pronounced a association still has a lot of work to do.

A wireless modem association from Tunisia called SpeedAir presumably connects to drones, robots and intelligent cities, yet there wasn’t information over a booth’s backdrop.

And finally, a Hicchair from Tunisia is a hand-sewn chair pillow installed with sensors that’s ostensible to detect bad viewpoint and send formula to smartphones. Sadly, a Hicchair rep’s phone was dead, so he couldn’t give me a demo.

The Hicchair, from Tunisia, is ostensible to establish if you’re sitting with correct viewpoint and afterwards send a commentary to a smartphone.

Kristy Totten for NPR


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Kristy Totten for NPR

Despite a meagre turnout, wish ran high during a event, and Africa Tech Now’s vendors were confident about their countries branch a tech corner.

“We’re flattering many doing all we can, and a supervision is perplexing to assistance as many as they can,” pronounced Hicchair CEO Sai Khalil.

In a meantime, he’ll continue to demeanour for funding. And a demo phone that won’t conk out.

Kristy Totten is a writer during Nevada Public Radio. Find her on Twitter @kristy_tea