Home Opinions Insight & Analysis 5 Most Unexpected Business Innovations from Africa
Insight & Analysis - April 29, 2021

5 Most Unexpected Business Innovations from Africa

Africa is blessed with a vast business ecosystem that has received a lot of push from some of the greatest minds on the continent. Known to leapfrog in technology, there are seldom talks about times when Africa has led innovation in the world.

Entrepreneurs on the continent are breaking the norm to tap business opportunities that were unnoticed. Here are the stories of some of the most unexpected business innovations to come out of Africa. 

5. Scan Codes to Detect Fake Products

In a battle against fake drugs, Dr Ashifi Gogo championed the creation of a code system (Sproxil Defender technology) that can be scanned to detect fake drugs. “If I am paying extra, I need to know if it’s organic”, he said. While his brainchild Sproxil was intended for the pharmaceutical industry, it eventually found wider usage in the automotive industry and the oil and gas sector. Launched in 2009, Sproxil has received an award from the White House.

4. Taking Nollywood from CDs to Online Streaming.

The Nigerian film industry, Nollywood is one of the world’s most vibrant, with annual revenue of $590 million according to the United Nations. Watching Nollywood movies is a culture ingrained in the heart of the typical Nigerian. It was usually walking to the rental store to get a movie CD or the condemnable habit of buying pirated DVDs, that was until iROKO TV entered the scene and gave Nigeria what is now Africa’s leading movies streaming platform. The founder of the company, Jason Njoku said “I am trying to make people happy”, well it’s safe to say that his goal has been achieved from both a business and entertainment standpoint.


3. 3D Printer Made from Waste

In 2016, the global amount of electronic waste reached 44.7 million tonnes. 60% to 90% of this waste is illegally traded and shipped to Asia and Western Africa. In a move to deal with this, Kodjo Afate Gnikou, a young Togo inventor created a low-cost 3D printer out of electronic waste. Gnikou found his footing through a project by WoeLab, a local tech incubator, to build the first 3D printer in Togo. 

2. Using Rats to Detect Mines and Tuberculosis

In 2007, no one thought that Mozambique will become home to a company that uses rats to do just what you’d expect dogs to handle. APOPO was founded by Bart Weetjens, and uses the incredible sense of smell of rats to save lives. He created a method for teaching African Giant Pouched Rats to detect land mines. Dogs are traditionally trained for this position, but training a rat costs one-fifth as much as training a dog, and the results are just as impressive. The rats are also used to detect tuberculosis going through the same amount of TB samples in 7 minutes that would take humans a day.

1. Turning Waste into Bio Fuels

Growing up in a rural community in Rwanda, Jean Bosco sought a greener alternative to wood charcoal which was the main source of energy for his people. He founded Habona, a company that turns wastes into briquettes as well as biogas. 

Jean’s initiative has not only changed the lives of countless Kenyans but it has brought him to the notice of the like of former United States President Barack Obama and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.



Leave a Reply

Check Also

7 African Companies Have Fully Gone Remote

Many companies around the world are letting their workers do their jobs from home. African…