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Innovation has its limits

July 17 · Issue #44 · View online
iAfrikan Daily Brief
In a previous newsletter, I attempted to articulate what I hope to articulate better here. I had spoken of how we should not be focusing on hacking poverty but rather focusing on providing citizens with basics first and then the rest can follow. Reading that newsletter again, I can understand why some readers who e-mailed and commented could’ve misunderstood the point I was trying to put across.
The reality across our continent is that (digital) innovation has its limits as far as improving people’s lives is concerned. Most of these limits are brought about mainly because the majority of people are unemployed and have little to no income.
If public transport was well run in your country, would you still catch an okada or boda boda?
Take a look at the one of the current trending topics: financial inclusion. Many put forward the argument that legacy financial institutions (for lack of a better phrase) don’t cater for lower income people, or that lower income people cannot afford to use the services of legacy financial institutions. I am almost certain that because you are reading this newsletter (and based on previous surveys of iAfrikan readers) that you not only highly probably have a bank account, but also have a regular income. It is also that regular income that probably makes you not so bothered about the banking charges and fees that your bank offers because there are other benefits that come with that, e.g. access to a credit line, mortgage, car financing, investment products etc. That’s where I think we sometimes fail to get to the core of most African countries problems, it is not that people are excluded from financial services per se, but in my opinion it is that the core problems are unemployment and lack of income. We can innovate all we want but, in the case of financial inclusion, there just isn’t enough money to go around (as a result of unemployment).
Similar scenarios exist in other areas we are seeing innovation in across Africa, and at the core of them all is either unemployment or a government that is not fulfilling its responsibilities. This could be in energy, transportation, monetary policy, health and many more areas.
Global Innovation Index. Source: The Economist
Some things are not for us to innovate around, especially if we pay taxes. Some things are for governments to deliver.
Ask yourself, why is it that it is Africans (and Asians) that are mostly being asked to innovate (independent of governments) around their basic problems?
👩🏿 MTN Group has appointed Yolanda Cuba as Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer. Cuba, who joins MTN from Vodacom Group, will join the MTN Group Executive Committee reporting to the Group CEO Rob Shuter. Link
📡 South Africa’s Minister of the new Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has made promises that plans for South Africa’s Digital Terrestrial Television migration and plans on how high demand telecommunications spectrum. Link
👨🏻‍💼 What started as a satirical tweet took a life of its own as it drew laughter and anger in equal measure. More importantly, it highlighted the underlying bias in Kenya’s startup ecosystem. Link
🎮 Serie A’s Juventus Football Club has signed an exclusive deal with Konami for its Pro Evolution Soccer game. This means Juventus will not feature in the EA SPORTS’ FIFA 20 game and FIFA Mobile games. Link
Starting up in Africa.
7:15 AM - 17 Jul 2019
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