Whenever I do my online research about recent innovation and political developments in Africa, I can’t help but feel stunned by the numerous attempts to foster and kickstart innovation on the continent.
On the one hand, new technologies such as mobile banking are thriving across the continent. On the other hand, there are various attempts to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and to bring together the smartest innovators from Africa and from all over the world to address certain social and environmental issues in Africa. One example for such a project is the Hackathon, that I’ve mentioned in my last blogpost.
Another promising way to foster innovation is by creating so-called innovation hubs, designed to educate people, to bring together innovators and to enable them to share knowledge, exchange ideas and thus foster a culture of innovation. A while ago I have written a blogpost on such a project, the so called Fábrica de Sabão in Luanda, Angola.
Fábrica de Sabão is an innovation hub that is currently being constructed. It is located in an old soap factory in Luanda, in the middle of the biggest slum of Angola. The factory will serve as an innovators melting-pot where all types of people can come together, exchange ideas and work on different projects. Apparently, the hub is designed to fit the needs of all types of people, not only tech-savy innovators.
“While many African innovation hubs are focused on incubating and accelerating startups, and often mostly technology-focused, Fábrica de Sabão is an ecosystem to foster innovation-led education, creativity and entrepreneurship amongst all sects of Angolans. When completed, it will comprise of incubator and accelerator hubs, co-working and maker spaces, a cultural exchange platform, local radio station and a residence program for visiting mentors and artists.” (Source: jeanclaudebastosdemorais.com)
Since I have already discussed this project in a previous blogpost, I was eager to find out more about how the construction is going, and about whether there are already projects taking place at the Fábrica de Sabão. And it turns out that there are. According to this article, there have been workshops for children and teens held at the Fábrica, where they learned to create arts with recycled materials and to create designs using 3D-printing technologies.
It sure sounds promising. I especially like the idea to not only provide a hub for innovators, but to invite all sorts of people to parttake in workshops, thus encouraging education and innovation across different educational and cultural backgrounds.