Will Africans lead innovation in resilience tech for sustainable lifestyles on a shoestring?

By | May 14, 2021

A Tanzanian startup offering a smart hydroponics kit for urban farming in limited spaces that costs around $500. Reading about the system yesterday – invented by founders Praygod Japhet and Dickson Mallya – I was moved to create a hashtag #resiliencetech on Twitter. Something about the topic made me feel that I should be keeping an eye out for more such inventions and innovations, and that this was just the beginning of a trend.

Smart solutions for agriculture in the east African context are not new – there’s a Kenyan greenhouse monitoring solution that uses IoT and mobile telephony to send notifications of things like “the soil is dry, water it” etc. What is different about this solution by Japhet & Mallya is their decision to target urban consumers. The cost savings on fresh produce at the individual household level is as much as part of their value proposition as the climate change mitigation aspects of a controlled environment for horticulture.

Their product page encourages you to “Grow your lettuce in your balconey with our portable system” in an IKEA-like way that makes me wonder whether these young Tanzanians have stumbled on to something deeper and more basic unmet human needs? To grow your own fresh vegetables in a time of volatile and uncertain supplies and prices is a very attractive proposition that goes beyond Tanzania’s cities, I’m sure.

A modern technological solution for a basic need at an affordable price. This is the future of resilience tech I see.

A search for mentions of the phrase ‘resilience tech’ surfaced only one from more than two years ago, out of Silicon Valley, and the article has less than a handful of concepts are clustered together – some of which are a stretch. This surprised me given the systemic shock we’ve all been experiencing for the 15 to 18 months or so. You’d think innovations to enhance the resilience of our daily life would have become a leading trend by now. I’m snarking to ask if its because promotors and innovators in the Valley have far too many billions to feel the pinch?

This blank space is what made me write the title of this post – Africans will have to step up and innovate where the ‘rich world’ can’t. I hope to see more such concepts mashing modern tech with basic human needs or enhancing one’s resilience in dense urban centers etc emerge in coming years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *