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Ministry of Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma in Nairobi on February 25, 2021. Photo Francis Nderitu/Nation Media Group

 

The Kenya Space Agency (KSA) is set to launch two mini-rockets from the Malindi Space Centre in collaboration with the University of Rome in August.

The rockets will be launched using high altitude balloons, an improvement of the earlier huge rockets that were being launched in the 1980s and 1990s.

This was revealed on Thursday during the opening of a space sector high-level engagement forum dubbed ‘The space sector we want in Kenya’ attended by Defence Cabinet Secretary Monicah Juma, KSA chairman Major-General (Rtd) James Arwasa, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Director-General Gilbert Kibe and other stakeholders.

The use of high-altitude balloons as launch pads for mini-rockets and satellites reduces the cost of sending rockets into space, Mr Arwasa said.

He noted that “satellites and rockets have become smaller because of advances in technology.

“We’ve students who are already working on building and launching the two at the Malindi Space Centre. We’re working with the University of Rome.”

The launch was pushed to August after seven professors involved in the project from Rome tested positive for Covid-19.

“We were expecting nine professors from the University of Rome to join us to witness these students launching the mini-rockets, but unfortunately seven tested positive for Covid-19,” Mr Arwasa said.

The benefits of having satellites in space include selling data collected to other countries. It also means the availability of quality data for use in making efficient decisions in the fight against climate change, promotion of national security, enhancement of agriculture, learning, identifying areas with minerals through earth observation.

KSA, Mr Arwasa said, will ensure information is centralised and accessible to all to avoid duplication. - Mary Wambui, The EastAfrican

As recently as 10 years ago, Africa’s technology industry was sparse. But as a result of advancements in mobile phone technology as well as better internet connections, the continent has transformed — unearthing countless innovators and entrepreneurs who make use of tech to solve everyday problems.

Out of 1.3 billion Africans, there are 477 million unique mobile subscribers, with the mobile industry contributing $155 billion to the continent’s GDP in 2019, according to data from the Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSMA).

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has 90 tech hubs — the most on the continent. In 2019, one report found startups in Nigeria raised nearly $400 million, more than double the amount from the previous year.In recent years, the West African nation has become an incubator for some of the continent’s biggest startups — including online marketplace place Jumia and Andela, a talent accelerator.

The result is a generation of tech entrepreneurs or “techpreneurs” whose startups and innovations are helping to improve the lives of people in Nigeria and beyond. CNN spoke to three startup founders to understand how they are shaping the country’s technology ecosystem.

The innovation pioneer

Bosun Tijani, Co-Creation Hub founder & CEO

Bosun Tijani founded CcHUB in 2010. 

Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB) is one of Africa’s largest networks of tech talent, with a presence in Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda. Bosun Tijani, founder of the innovation center, told CNN that he started CcHUB to create a space for Africans to develop life-changing tech.

Since its creation in 2010, it has served as a meeting place for innovators and entrepreneurs to share their plans and execute ideas, especially in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center.

“Science and technology can leapfrog development across Africa … there are so many smart people on this continent, we just need to build a platform that will enable them to create,” Tijani said. Through CcHUB, the entrepreneur has been able to provide tech startups with resources needed to grow their ideas into sustainable businesses.

Beginning in 2016, for example, through its 18-month incubation program, the hub helped provide the founder of Lifebank, a health logistics company in Nigeria, with a workspace, expert advice on how to incorporate tech into her business, and funding.But for Tijani, it is not just about supporting other techpreneurs.

He recently launched STEM Cafe, a learning center in Lagos, where kids can dream up big ideas through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).There, children engage in a series of activities and informal sessions including coding challenges, computer games and prototyping with 3D printers.

“I want to build a generation of people in Africa with strong belief in science, people that are comfortable in science that can apply science to change things,” Tijani said. The cafe, he said, does not use regular school curriculums — instead, it applies a non-linear way of teaching that encourages kids to be creative and to innovate. “It’s a free space, we don’t judge … what we want to achieve here is to build creative confidence in kids.” HowAfrica

Photo UNEP/YouTube

 

An absolutely brilliant young woman in Kenya has started a company manufacturing bricks from recycled plastic.

Nzambi Matee says she was “tired of being on the sidelines” while civil servants struggled against plastic waste in the capital city of Nairobi, so the materials engineer created a product that is 5 to 7 times stronger than concrete.

Founder of Gjenge Makers, which transforms plastic waste into durable building materials, Matee also designed the machines that manufacture the bricks in her factory.

Getting dumps of plastic low and high-density polyethylene and polypropylene from local packaging plants for free, Gjenge Makers produces a variety of different paving stones after the plastic polymer is heated and mixed with sand.

“There is waste they cannot process anymore; they cannot recycle. That is what we get,” Matee told Reuters.

The result is a line of versatile building materials pressed via hydraulic machine into different thicknesses, that sell in a variety of colors that cost an average of $7.70 per square meter.

So far, she has employed more than 110 people, helping to churn out about 1,500 bricks every day. She told Reuters that they have recycled about 20 metric tons of plastic waste since the company was founded in 2018.

She hopes to very soon add a much bigger manufacturing line that will triple her production capacity. - Andy Corbley, Good News Network

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