Weekly Review December 22-28: Technology Innovation and Advances for 2013

Here’s our final weekly round up for 2012. This week, we are covering the way technology innovation and advances are setting up the potential for significant social and economic gains in Africa in 2013.

Charity:Water, Other Nonprofits Get Help from Tech Innovators to Inspire New Philanthropy” by Brett Zongker on The Huffington Post
Charity:Water, one of the most well-respected nonprofits out there, has funded 7,000 clean water projects to date. The organization prides itself on its commitment to donor follow up: it sends photos and GPS coordinates of funded water projects to donors. Scott Harrison, the founder, is now looking for a technology innovation to improve operations and reporting. Harrison is looking for a remote sensor technology to monitor the water flow at each funded water project. Google is interested, and has provided a $5 million grant to install sensors on 4,000 wells to provide real-time data on water flow. This is a good example of collaboration between technology and philanthropy, and is an immediate example of the need for affordable, cost-effective, and sophisticated innovation on the ground in emerging markets.

Africa’s ACE Undersea Cable Now Operational” on IT News Africa
Just in time for the New Year, parts of West Africa will benefit from 12,000 additional kilometers of undersea fiber optic cables connecting the region to Western Europe. For seven of the countries, this is the first direct connection to a submarine cable and the international broadband network. This will dramatically expand the services that local telecoms can provide and increase the likelihood for social and economic gains from ICT services.

Africa: Use Innovation to Ease Inequality in Poorer Nations, Says OECD” by Munyaradzi Makoni on AllAfrica
Innovation and Inclusive Development (PDF), an OECD report published late last month, points to ICT as the key tool for closing the income inequality gaps in emerging markets. In particular, the report calls for inclusive innovation, which gives “an excluded group access to economic opportunities and quality goods and services.”  It’s especially important for OECD countries to facilitate the dissemination of innovations and technologies. This includes the efforts made by our portfolio companies, many of which are founded here in the States but quickly establish operations on the ground in emerging markets and hire locally.

East Africa: COMESA Launches Innovation Fund to Boost Economic Growth” by Esther Nakkazi on AllAfrica
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has launched a new fund designed to support and encourage innovation from individuals, SMEs, and the mobilization and coordination of scientists and engineers. This is an effort by COMESA to lead the region in an effort to apply technology and trade to economic development. There will be a regional fund to match grants at the national level, and the private sector is encouraged to aid the commercialization of any research results.

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