Harambee the spirit of innovation in Africa

Publisher: Best Red
Availability:in stock 1000 item(s)
Width: 235MM
Height: 168MM

About the book

Is Africa the dark continent or the bright continent? Is this Africa’s century? How many inventions have been made in Africa? Is the nature of innovation in Africa different from elsewhere? Do you know the difference between tef and TEF; or a SolarTurtle, a Turtle car from Ghana and a satellite-tagged loggerhead turtle? How many African countries have produced their own cars? Why is the M-Pesa mobile money system so important? The answers to these and many other questions can be found in this remarkable book – the first of its kind. Over 800 inventions and innovations by more than 600 innovators from 50 African countries are discussed, and a variety of issues related to innovation are debated. From mompreneurs to moguls, waste pickers to fintech wizards, locust whisperers to rocket scientists, robocops to internet-enabled balloons, surfing therapy to gin flavoured with elephant dung, shweshwe cloth to microsatellites, you will be astounded by the creativity of the continent’s techpreneurs. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of Africa.

About the author

Mike Bruton originally trained as an ichthyologist at Rhodes University in Grahamstown (now Makhanda), South Africa, and carried out his master’s and doctoral research on the fishes of coastal lakes in northern Zululand. After a postdoctoral year at the Natural History Museum in London (UK), he was appointed as senior lecturer and then professor and head of the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University. He then served as the director of the JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology (now the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity) before being appointed as the education director at the new Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town and then as the founding director of the MTN ScienCentre (now the Cape Town Science Centre). 

Thereafter, he worked in South Africa, Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia for the company MTN Studios (which designs and installs interactive science exhibitions, science centres and museums) before retiring in 2015 and setting up the consultancy company Mike Bruton Imagineering in Cape Town, where he has been active providing guidance to science and technology centres and writing popular science books. 

Throughout his career, he has recognised the importance of innovation in science and technology while acknowledging that creativity in these fields is expressed differently than in the arts. Whereas artists use their imagination to create new artworks, scientists use it to discover new ways of looking at old things, to develop new techniques and technologies in their search for the truth, to derive new relationships and contexts, and to understand the complex mechanisms of nature. Great scientists and technologists, like great artists, are restless and curious individuals who are ill at ease with the status quo. They are individuals who are disruptive risk takers, easily bored, make lots of mistakes, work across disciplines, hate rules, have a reputation for eccentricity, and dream big. In contrast, faithful formalists make incremental contributions but do not develop novel ideas, discoveries or inventions. 

The idea for this book arose from the interactive exhibition ‘Inventions that Changed the World’, which was mounted in the MTN ScienCentre (now the Cape Town Science Centre) in 2002. Following an enlightening comment by the then president of the National Research Foundation in South Africa, Dr Khotso Mokhele, another exhibition (‘Great South African Inventions’) was held in 2004 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy. An eponymous book published in 2010 further stimulated interest in this topic and led to a further, more comprehensive tome What a great idea. Awesome South African inventions (2017). Following the success of this book, and interest in the topic from correspondents throughout the continent, the author was encouraged to spread his net wider and write about African inventions – a much more daunting task. This book is the outcome of that daring endeavour. 


Foreword by Alan Duggan

  1. Precolonial inventions
  2. Agriculture, stock farming, apiculture and rural living
  3. Terrestrial biodiversity conservation
  4. Fishing, aquaculture and aquatic biodiversity conservation
  5. Food and cooking
  6. Drinks and beverages
  7. Health and medicine I: Covid-19 
  8. Health and medicine II: Other medical, hygiene and grooming  innovations
  9. Sustainable living  
  10. Energy and alternative energy   
  11. Town planning and urban living  
  12. Education and the youth  
  13. Sports and recreation 
  14. Clothing, accessories and design
  15. Transport and transport infrastructure
  16. Trade, industry, mining, biotechnology and nanotechnology  
  17. Commerce, e-commerce and fintech   
  18. Entrepreneurship and the future of work   
  19. Essay: African women in science and technology  
  20. Communications and telecommunications  
  21. Electronics, computers and smartphones
  22. Robots, machine learning and artificial intelligence 
  23. Military and security
  24. Astronomy and space science  
  25. Essay: Future of technology
  26. General discussion
  27. About the author
  28. Bibliograph
  29. Index

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