Ordinary People Problems In Africa

Emalo-AfricaAfricans have sent their kids to school to gain knowledge that would help solve their problems, but the kids never fulfilled that promise.

They betrayed the hope, and preferred to go to work for the banks and international organizations, leaving their people crushed by a fast changing world they lack the knowledge and skills to deal with.

Sending remittance won’t save Africa. Africa need more your brain than your money.

In this post, I’m making a call to African engineers and innovators to use their skills and talents to create or re-purpose technology that could solve problems the other 99% of African populations face on daily basis.

There is more to technology than creating a new cool iPhone app or a highly responsive html5 website with Twitter Bootstrap. In fact, there is no better satisfaction in life than creating a technology that change people life for better, and seeing their happy faces using that technology.

I’ve made a list of the top problems that ordinary Africans faces that we could use technology to solve in a more efficient and affordable ways, using local knowledge and materials.

Unfortunately if you are reading this post, you probably don’t belong to the group of the ordinary Africans I’m featuring in this article.

Now, here is the list of the Top 16 problems faced by ordinary Africans:


1. Bed for babies

In Africa, babies sleep with their mom at night, but during day time moms lack a convenient place to make their baby to rest or sleep, because daytime life is spend outside of the house. Babies either sleep on the floor, inside package paper box, an arranged place on a sofa, or the women have to carry them on their back while going through their daily activity.

This is also a huge market, but success will require a deep study of local people habits, and avoidance of conventional thinking like bringing baby bed like in Europe to African villages or towns.






Sleeping Baby


2. Women Carrying babies All day long

For tourists visiting Africa, seeing African women carrying their baby on their back all day long is a satisfying curiosity, and some clever minds even think it’s a cultural patrimony to preserve. Now, let ask the women carrying a 5 to 12 kilos babies on their back all day long  if that is something rejoicing.

Besides, designing beds where they could keep the babies during day time, we might also design new solutions for carrying babies much easier for our moms inside their current environment and life conditions.

african-woman-carrying-baby RHA-809-4823 - © - Godong african-woman-carrying-baby-3

3. Sleeping bed for Adults

The majority of African can’t afford modern mattress. In some part of Africa people use traditionally designed beds done with knitted bags stuffed with dry herb, but some others use quite rough and unhealthy options.

This is a huge market waiting for innovation.


4. Domestic Lamp

I was born in a village where there were no tap water and electricity. I was using kerosene lamps to study at night. They are very inconvenient, but also very polluting. You have read eyes very quickly and black nose.


Kerosene lamp   Afrika leuchtet auf - Abendbrot im Licht der Kerosinlampe / Lighting Africa - Kerosene-lit dinner table


5. Washing clothes

Innovation is required to make things easier for people to wash their clothes, as most people can’t afford modern washing machine. For people who can’t afford modern washing machine, we need to invent alternative technologies. This a huge market looking for smart inventors and entrepreneurs.




6. Merchant tools / Kiosk / Shop

Africa has huge informal markets where people get out on the street to sell stuff. Those people need innovation and tools to take their commerce to the next level, and also to protect public health.

africa-women-market African-Kiosk Farmer-selling-local-market-Africa

7. House construction & Roofing

The rich African subalterns have opted for modern house construction using mainly materials imported from abroad. The western way of construction in Africa has brought very little innovation. The other 99% can’t afford the modern construction, and has been abandoned by the local elite.

We need innovators that are interested in doing research and development on local materials and ways of construction to provide decent and affordable housing for the majority.



8. Cooking

The way the majority of Africans cook their food today is not sustainable economically and ecologically. There have been some innovations going on in this field, but a lot is left to be done in term of  kitchenware and stove.


9. Farming tools

One of the reason why Africa still have to buy huge quantities of food from Europe and Asia is because of the lack of local innovations to would integrate into local farmers life and improve their output. The tools our farmers  are using are very rudimentary and unscalable.

farming_tools_mali MDG--Agriculture-Young-gi-006



10. Harvest conservation

Lack for  innovation in harvest conservation in Africa is also one of the major cause of food shortage and malnutrition. The current tools the local farmers have need improvement.



11. Fetching water

Fetching water is one of the most time consuming activity for women and kids in Africa.

Drinking water from the river


12. Fetching wood

Second to water fetching, wood fetching for cooking is a hard, time consuming and ecological devastating activity. My mother died bitten by a snake while she was out searching for wood to make us food. We need innovation here to alleviate the pain of people and the ecological impact of  massive deforestation.

The Voluntary Fund for the United Nations Decade for Women


13. Local Tools Factory

Here we need entrepreneurs who could dedicate themselves to study the tools people are currently using, then proceed to create a new generation for “smithy” or tools factory that serve the local people needs with improved technology and usability.





14. Latrines

The traditional way of building latrine and toilet is not sustainable anymore. Adding a modern water flushing toilet in every African house is not a sustainable solution too. We need innovation here in order to preserve people dignity and also protect public health and underground water so many are depend on (see next point on wells)



15. Wells digging, Usage & Protection

Wells are one of the solution to the soul breaking water fetching duty on woman. In many African villages and cities people don’t use water from wells anymore because most of their water has been infested by the latrines infiltrations. Still wells are part of the solution, and new and innovative ways to dig and protect them need to be invented.



16. Water tanks

To solve the well problem, people moved to water tanks.  here too we need innovation.

water-tank-Africa water-tank

17. Grinding Tools

African women spend a huge amount of time grinding. We need tools, innovation here!

Kalenjin girl grinding maize, Ngomongo Village, Kenya


18. Waste disposal

Africa has a huge waste disposal problem to be addressed. From villages to cities, innovators and entrepreneurs are required to find efficient, affordable and ecological solutions.

public waste


(While researching this article I’ve discovered numerous attempts and prototypes done by various people and organizations addressing some of the issues above. I also understand that it’s not enough to find solutions, we need entrepreneurs who could build sustainable business models and sales channels to bring the innovations to the people who need them. Otherwise, most the innovators  will receive awards for  their discoveries and gains some celebrity status but the technologies never reach the very people they are intended to).



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About Mawuna KOUTONIN

Mawuna Koutonin is a world peace activist who relentlessly works to empower people to express their full potential and pursue their dreams, regardless of their background. He is the Editior of SiliconAfrica.com, Founder of Goodbuzz.net, and Social activist for Africa Renaissance. Koutonin’s ultimate dream is to open a world-class human potential development school in Africa in 2017. If you are interested in learning more about this venture or Koutonin’s other projects, you can reach him directly by emailing at mk@linkcrafter.com.

14 Responses to “Ordinary People Problems In Africa”

  1. Ndirangu Mwaura

    There you go again showing africa in a poor light. Why do you hate us so much? All these innovations you demand engineers invent are not necessary because ultimately the problem is poverty

    • mm Mawuna Remarque KOUTONIN

      What do you mean by the problem is poverty.
      Those same people by mobile phones? They buy TV? They buy bicycles? right?
      Where are the solutions to these problems so that they could buy them.

      Please upgrade your way of thinking. Compassion for these people is the first step to solution, not hiding Africa behind some false development pretenses.

  2. Chasles Carlitos Abimana

    This article goes with George Ayittey: Cheetahs vs. Hippos for Africa's future TED talk video. We must help develop the traditional and informal sectors.

  3. Manuele D'Ercole

    Thanks for the article Mr. KOUTONIN, I agree with Szilàrd about carrying babies, but rather i would add the "family planing issue".

  4. Saba Sessa

    Manuele, Africa can have much more population. Family planning it is the strategy of not investing for african but just to kill them so they desappear.

  5. Diaw Kane

    i agree. i did carry children on my back; sometimes because i juste wanted too, other times because i did have any other alternative choice. it's really painful to work and carry a baby at the same time.

  6. YUNIC

    Wow..That first sentence of we as children being educated to help alleviate the problems in our continent and opting to go work in Bank and Organization I had to share it with my friends..Its true we have failed here and we really need to look back.. Thank you Mr for this powerful presentation..


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