Young minds shaping the future through technology

Olamide Alhassan.

Young Africans, armed with creativity, resilience, and a deep understanding of their communities’ needs, are harnessing the power of technology to tackle pressing challenges and drive positive change.

The solutions being offered span various sectors, from healthcare and education to agriculture and finance, demonstrating the breadth of ingenuity present on the African continent. One shining example of African ingenuity is the story of young Nigerian students who are determined to tackle the continent’s most pressing challenges by buildings tech centered innovations from scratch.

Student brainstorming at the BOOTCAMP (PC Olamide Alhassan)

Innovative Solutions for Real-World Challenges

Organizations like Afrelib are at the forefront, empowering the next generation of problem solvers and tech innovators.

Afrelib’s Tech Challenges have led to practical solutions that address pressing issues in African communities.

Faced with the dual challenges of food insecurity and environmental degradation, the young minds set out to create a solution that would not only increase food production, but also empower local farmers. One such innovation is the Farm Intruder Alert System, developed by participants during one of the annual Afrelib’s Tech Challenges.

The Farm Intruder Alert System being tested (PC Olamide Alhassan)

The Farm Intruder Alert System is for farmers grappling with theft and intrusions on their land. Equipped with motion sensors and a smartphone application, the system detects any unauthorized activity on the farm and sends instant alerts to the owner. With the added feature of a panic button, farmers can quickly summon help in case of emergency, ensuring their safety and the security of their livelihoods.

The materials used for the project were mostly locally sourced. It would be launched on their school farm in June, 2024 after the students’ academic session and they look forward to collaborations to help get the project to every farm owner in Nigeria.

CHALLENGES:

Nonetheless, the project didn’t come without its challenge as the students struggled to put it together. The coding for the application, the technical skill for building the fences, the wiring, power supply and even the allotted time to build the project all constituted the challenges they encountered birthing this solution. Some of them sustained injuries being an all-girls team working with tools like harmers and nails and the likes.

Amongst the task carried out during the Tech challenge was another solution carefully curated and crafted by primary class students who conceived the idea to keep the environment clean with Trash Bot to revolutionize the community waste management system and promote public health noting that our environment is our health.

A visit to Olumawu school  also revealed the innovation the junior school students who tagged themselves team TrashBot curated. The aim of the TrashBot was to keep the environment clean according Abdullahi Mustapha. The TrashBot is made out of recycled materials and it has different chambers according to waste disposal. It has a sensor that detects the appropriate waste to be disposed by scanning and opening the right chamber for disposal.

TrashBot 

The team leader Kunnu Oluwatobi said the project was inspired by a boy Alamin who doesn’t like thrash and wants to dispose them off conveniently without stress so they decided and came up with the idea of a TrashBot

These Junior students never shied away from stating outrightly some of the challenges they encountered on the project. They spoke up about time factor, the coding involved and better materials as well funding to aid more production of TrashBot in every street and state in Nigeria not just within their school premise.

The TrashBot is currently in use in their school environment.

Expert’s Opinion on the Project:

Experts in the field of sustainable agriculture applauded the efforts of these young entrepreneurs, highlighting the importance of innovation in addressing global challenges.

Engineer Deborah Kemba Maidawa, a highly skilled Project Management Professional (PMP) who is MD of Ecopearls Engineering Services Ltd said  it’s remarkable to see children in Nigeria contributing to innovation.

“I believe our children will excel in the future, potentially becoming inventors in the next five or ten years, bringing modifications and innovations we can’t even imagine due to the rapid advancement of technology,” she noted.

As a quality assurance manager, she said the solutions provided by the TECH projects are very relatable to real-life problems.

“The TrashBots created by these children can significantly help in waste management, preserving the environment, and mitigating environmental hazards. However, they may encounter challenges in accessing better materials for the durability of their works. With proper investment and marketing, these products can meet international standards and be exported to other countries.

“I’m particularly excited about the Farm Intruder alert system, which will enhance the security of our farmers, ensuring food availability and reducing food inflation. The system enables farmers to detect intrusions on their farms and take immediate safety measures. Overall, Afrelib Academy deserves commendation for giving students wings to fly and broadening their horizons, potentially turning them into innovators. With more support, Nigeria can become a hub of innovations.”

 Engr. Deborah emphasized the importance of guidance and mentorship from industry experts, highlighting the potential of Nigerian students to create wonders when given the opportunity and the right environment.

Engr. Deborah Kemba Maidawa

Voices of Innovation: Students Speak Out

Some of the beneficiaries of the Tech Education were students of Greater heights academy, who birthed the farm intruder alert system and won the 2023 Tech challenge. They tagged themselves the Tech Titians. When the Tech titans spoke with me, they informed me of how excited they were to have won the competition despite being a team of all girls.

Rahamah Yusuf the team leader stated the report by the International Crisis Group that between 2010 and 2015, almost 6,500 farmers were killed and 62,000 displaced as a result of the 850 recorded clashes between farmers and herders in the middle belt region of Nigeria made the team to come up with the innovation.

Amnesty International also reported a further 3,641 people killed between January 2016 and October 2018 with 300,000 people fleeing their homes.

Amina Dikko who worked on the project talked about how innovative they have become due to the tech challenge as she walked me through how the Farm Intruder Alert system works.

Farida Bello who worked on the construction of the farm intruder alert system also stated that they’ve learnt to be more creative especially after seeing the innovative creation of other students.

Other voices

The students had a lot to share from their lessons at the Tech Challenge and Boot Camp. “I have learnt a lot so far especially on Thinkercad and now I think I can create things in real life,”Theodore Josiah-Ebune one of the participants of the May, 2023 holiday Bootcamp said.

Fauzia Mohammed stated that she learnt the skills of graphics designing and coding.Enoch Noah talked about how he learnt to work with team members and they built a fully functional blender from the trainings at Afrelib and thanks to Afrelib he can now create and build websites for people.

Parental Testimonials: Witnessing Transformation

A parent Eberechukwu Onah also shared her children’s enthusiasm. “I have never seen my children so excited and I see the task they bring home and the things they do right in front of me. They are designing my book cover and other picture images. They even edit videos too all thanks to the training during the Easter boot camp”.

Future Horizons: Scaling Impact

Afrelib aims to expand its reach, partnering with organizations to offer internships and ongoing support to students. They aim to be life partners to the children as they continue to make innovations that will solve real life problems and showcase the true African heritage.

Students during the BOOTCAMP

Challenges of the organization

Addressing the challenges the organization faces, the co-founder Africanelibrary, Joseph Ajuwon expressed  deep concern though he admonished that challenges are opportunities. However, he stated that most schools are more concerned about grades and not the creative prowess embedded in the children through the power of technology which is the traditional education systems.

As they move from schools to schools to give value, some of them refused to embrace this change and maintain the status quo of what has been to what it has to be. “Teachers, parents and guardians must embrace this change as the quicker we scale up the change the better”.

The government also need to give the educational curriculum more oxygen to embrace the change of Artificial intelligence and tech education. The Programme Coordinator Afrelib, Joyce Gomina also spoke to me about the uniqueness of the voice of each child they come across. She said “our focus is to ensure that every child has access to information technology regardless of gender and age.”

She stated that it is even more important to have the younger children come in early to learn has they have very little or no distractions at their age but the challenge they encounter most of the time doesn’t just come from teachers but also some parents who do not believe enough in their children and the things they can do if given the chance. They also need more organizations to partner with them to get the children spaces to practice what they’ve learnt even as Afrelib follows up with them to know their progress.

Africa Change Stories platform is established to tell African stories which are empowering and are at variant to stereotypical views of wars, famine, diseases. At African Change Stories, we believe narrative and angle matters. So we responsibly tell stories ethically. The platform therefore pushes forward great and energizing stories which will propel its people to consciously strive to do more. You have a story? Info@africanchangestories.org

3 thoughts on “Young minds shaping the future through technology

  1. Concise, exciting, and straight to the point technological literature that unburden the tiresome search for African grown solutions to her modern days challenges. I think such a writer needs to be applauded for painstakingly giving us a new voice of accomplishment. Thank you!

  2. This was a great story to read. It is heart warming to see young people of this age and especially the girls , by thinking outside the box and tackling problems with technology and innovation.
    This is the future and these young mind on the right path .
    This story has me thinking also. I’ll be sharing this story with everyone I know.
    Congratulations to you all.
    Congratulations

  3. Tech is not just the key to the present, it is the future. As such, training more children now is way to enhance the future.

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