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InfoQ eMag: Frugal Innovation


In little over a decade, Africa has gone from being a region where it’s still hard to find power lines, fixed-line telecom infrastructure, and personal computers to being the second-most mobile-connected continent where about 15% of the billion inhabitants own a cell phone.

This technological explosion is having a larger impact than merely connecting people, since it is creating a large, low-cost, distributed sensor network that has the potential to transform lives in fields such as health care, banking, and education, and has given rise to many interesting endeavours.

On the other hand, mobile is just one tool that provides Internet access in a huge continent where drinkable water can be difficult to access in some places and where millions of people live on less than $1 per day. This gives a peculiar character to African technology and innovation: frugality, the ability to stay away from the newest and more powerful technology and build effective solutions on cheap, more robust, and proven technology.


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Frugal Innovation eMag include:

  • Mobile-First in Africa - In little over a decade, Africa has become the second most mobile connected continent, where about 15% of the billion inhabitants owns a cell phone, opening the way to many innovative applications. This mobile explosion in Africa is having a far larger impact than merely connecting people, it is creating a very large, low-cost distributed sensor network that has the potential to completely transform global health care.
  • Software Tales from the African Continent - Enyo Kumahor shares software development stories from the African continent.
  • Enyo Kumahor on Bringing Frugal Innovation out of Africa - Enyo Kumahor talks about how Cobat Partners helps companies in Africa to leverage technology, applying the ideas of frugal innovation and pragmatism to delivering products which make a difference to the daily lives of people in Africa, despite the constraints they must work within.  She discusses how these ideas apply beyond Africa, and how IT professionals around the world can help.
  • Ushahidi and the Power of Crowdsourcing - At the end of 2007, a political and humanitarian crisis erupted in Kenya due to suspicions that incumbent presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki had rigged the recent elections.  A few days into the crisis, a group of Kenyans in Nairobi launched Ushahidi, a website to map violence “based on reports submitted via the web and mobile phone”.
  • SMS Uprising: Mobile Activism in Africa - SMS Uprising is a collection of essays that provides practical examples of how mobile technology is providing new ways for activists in Africa to organise and strive for social change.

InfoQ eMags are professionally designed, downloadable collections of popular InfoQ content - articles, interviews, presentations, and research - covering the latest software development technologies, trends, and topics.