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Where Africa and Technology Collide!

What Drives You?

I see maps like this, listing the worlds 50 most innovative companies, and I’m driven to get just one marker in Africa.

Fast Companys Map of 50 Innovative Companies

5 Comments

  1. I hear you. While not as pathetic, the Creative Commons map of Africa is nearly similar, except with some North African countries and South Africa on there. They’re a good group at CC, but in talking with their staff two weeks ago, I think their problem is similar to most other people in that there really isn’t much drive to get a foothold in Africa. I’m assuming that Fast Company really didn’t dig all that much or they could have found at least one pin to stick there. Oh yeah there’s also that sticky issue of languages…

    By the way, if you’re on a VSAT or other molasses-esque connection while in Liberia, let me know how Maneno loads if you get the chance. Just did another round of shrinking things down. The home page is at 37kb now! Unfortunately we have a couple of months still before being on the ground again over there.

  2. The funny thing is that you , me, and anyone else who has spent time off the beaten path in African nations knows that there are some seriously innovative ‘companies’ at work, in many regards, way more innovative than some on the list with nearly limitless resources, and well established customer bases. You prove this point on AfriGadget all of the time, and I have seen some amazing things with my own eyes.

    One cannot appreciate what one cannot see, so until the rest of the world realizes that there is value in African ingenuity (not just African resources) we will be hard pressed to find a pin in that continent.

  3. Matthew makes a good point.

    Maybe that means that Erik is driven by both ensuring that Africa is innovative as well as that it’s recognized for being so. For starters, I like to distinguish between meaningful and meaningless innovation. And meaningless innovation is itself not that innovative anymore.

    Thus, maybe the true innovation lies in new business models. Social entrepreneurship, products and services for the Bottom of the Pyramid, ultra low footprint products. I mean, how many of the companies that Fast Company mentions can be considered game changers? For me, it seems like that most of them are playing from the same old playbook again and again.

    The past year, Apple (#4 on the list) has brought us – drum roll – an “improved” iPhone, “improved” Macbooks and updated iMacs… and uhm? What else? OMG an “application store”… Wow, who could have though of that? I have great respect for Apple’s execution, but I don’t think the world was *really* waiting for unibody Macbooks.

  4. For the record, I think I can be considered a real Mac-head, so it’s not that I just like to badmouth Apple. What I see coming from Microsoft is even worse. (There might be exceptions in far corners of the company, it’s hard to generalize about a company of that size.)

  5. Interesting follow up to the discussion:

    Harvard Business Schools take on the same article:

    http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/anthony/2009/03/what_makes_a_company_the_world.html

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