This week I am putting together a puzzle of ideas. On Monday I started with a story that most of Africa would have a smartphone in 5 years. Yesterday I wrote about how solar power is dropping in price quickly and worked best in places with lots of sun. Today I am writing about tech incubators in Africa.
This puzzle is leading up to a big thought for tomorrow’s post but I admit is a bit more obscure than most of my reader are used to, especially on a blog primarily focused on education. Trust me, this will all make sense tomorrow. (or else I will fall on my face heh heh)
When you are trying to create a new software product, it can take a year or so to actually get it launched, plus a few more years to even make any money (if you do). During this time how do you pay people and live? An incubator is a financing support structure that helps new tech startup businesses through the first few years so they can make a product. In return, the incubator gets a cut of the profits (if any). There are many of these incubators in the US that can help new products leave the ground. This latest story talks about how in the last few years there have been tech incubators established throughout parts of Africa.
What is interesting to me is that the infrastructure requirements for doing this (electricity, Internet connection, and computers) are a lot simpler than say manufacturing. It make sense to me that companies would be trying to grow software businesses there. Even manufacturing will be possible soon with 3d printing technology. Just put raw materials in one end and products pop out the end.
So here are the conditions I see in Africa soon:
- Solar energy based electricity at the source (meaning you don’t need powerplants and transmission infrastructure).
- Internet infrastructure based on mobile technology. (meaning you don’t need wire all the way to a house, just a neighborhood or village)
- In-situ manufacturing based on 3d printing. (this drastically reduces transportation costs)
What we have here is a crucible. What effect will all these pieces have on the society of Africa, and the world and how will it change education worldwide? I’ll finish up tomorrow.
“Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes, really. Pressure and time.” – Red in Shawshank Redemption