Meet the computer whizz from Togo who built his first robot at age seven. Must Read

Meet the computer whizz from Togo who built his first robot at age seven. Must Read

"I could make many, many things with that,” said Sam Kodo, looking at a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Where most people see only a phone, 23-year-old Kodo sees a combination of components that can be taken apart and used to make a PC, or a robot that plays football.

But then again, he is not like most people. Kodo was just seven when he started building his first robot that could both circumvent obstacles and interact with people. Born and raised in Togo, his father was a physics lecturer at the University of Lomé and Kodo would enjoy many hours in the library studying formulas and equations. It was here that he just fell in love with electronics. It didn’t take long for his parents to realise he had a talent, and both did their best to support his passion. Without access to many new parts required to build some of the things he wanted, both helped him find components he could re-use from broken-down appliances, such as old TVs.

He recalls how his mother would give him money to buy toys as a child just so he could take them apart and build his own inventions. “I want to take the opportunity to thank my mom,” he told How we made it in Africa.

“Just think about it. If you fail, at least you have tried. There are a lot of people who have ideas but never try. Even if you fail, you are already one step better off in life than those who don’t even try,” said Sam Kodo.

“And I was also very fortunate to have my dad help me find the right parts I needed. And then I was also able to go to libraries and just educate myself.”

By the age of 15, Kodo’s robots could recognise faces and objects, speak, execute orders and even play football. And it wasn’t long before he created his first smartphone and PC.

Low-cost computers for Africa

Today Kodo is the founder of Infinite Loop, a company that locally produces low-cost personal computers for students. His miniature computers, called the Lifebook PC, are small enough to fit into a pocket, and they have to be plugged into TVs or mobile phones to turn them into a functional internet-enabled desktop PC. They are sold for a fraction of the price of other PCs in the market (under US$90) and cost around half the amount to produce.

Kodo’s work has caught the attention of international media, and last year he was named one of 12 finalists of the Anzisha Prize, an award for African entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 22.

His inspiration for creating his own PCs came from a need he identified at university. “When I went to university I realised there was a serious lack of tools to do my homework and university studies. So I decided to make my own computer so that it could help me work properly.”

This soon caught the attention of other students with similar interests. “I was fortunate enough to team up with others who had the same talent, and we created the company that is now called Infinite Loop.”

The start-up employs six people and has sold around 50 computers in Togo, which Kodo said is still their first version. “We plan to create many versions, and have many other projects for Africa too.”

Teams are everything

Kodo looks up to the likes of technology pioneers Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, and makes use of some of the lessons they have learnt in their careers. For starters, he acknowledges that there is more to building a business empire than being able to produce something innovative or being a computer whizz.

“Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg might not have particularly been good businessmen or good administrators or even good at marketing, but what they did was they surrounded themselves with people who have the competencies and skills to turn their [innovations and computer skills] into a company,” he noted.

Kodo’s business partner has been his friend since childhood, and has studied commerce. He explained they have complementary skills, which they use to make joint business decisions. “When you choose a business partner, choose someone who complements you – not someone with the same skills – and someone who can add value to the business,” is his advice.

‘Be curious, do not fear failure’

According to Kodo, technology – such as mobile phones or PCs – has the ability to solve some key problems on the continent. Above all he wants his PCs to be affordable so everyone can benefit from them.

“With the computer I’ve created it’s important to remember there was a purpose behind this type of computer. It’s accessible and not expensive. Pretty much any student who’d like to purchase a computer like this can do so.”

He advises other African entrepreneurs to “be curious, enquire, learn, and always be original” in whatever they do. He added it will also be easier for them to succeed if they love what they do, and they should not let the fear of failure prevent them from starting.

“Just think about it. If you fail, at least you have tried. There are a lot of people who have ideas but never try,” Kodo commented.

“Even if you fail, you are already one step better off in life than those who don’t even try.”

By Musah Idriss

This Beautiful Burundian Female Scientist Hopes to Eradicate Tuberculosis. Read Full Story

This Beautiful Burundian Female Scientist Hopes to Eradicate Tuberculosis. Read Full Story

Burundian scientist Mireille Kamariza has teamed up with other top chemists to find a simpler and more effective diagnostic method for tuberculosis (TB). With the help of her mentor and chemistry teacher, Saloua Saidane, the 27-year-old discovered a potential breakthrough in the fight against TB, an infectious disease that is estimated to affect 10 million people annually across the world.

Kamariza hopes her invention will help detect the bacteria that causes TB more effectively, according to NPR.

Not My Career

Kamariza, who is currently working on her Ph.D., says she never dreamed of becoming a scientist because she wasn’t exposed to science while growing up in Burundi.

“Science was something that Europeans and Americans did. It was for other people – not for me.”

Growing up in a country ravaged by a deadly civil war, Kamariza, like most of her peers, had a hard time getting a good education, but she managed to attend a government-run Catholic school, before moving to the U.S. at the age of 17 to join her two brothers who lived in a small studio apartment in San Diego. They all worked various odd jobs to pay the bills.

While attending San Diego Mesa College, Kamariza met Sadiane, a fellow French-speaking African from Tunisia who introduced her to science.

“She really pushed me and kept motivating me and telling me I should aim high. Whatever she told me, I did,” Kamariza said.

She later joined the University of California, where she spent her summer holidays conducting biology research after earning a diversity scholarship from the National Institutes of Health.

The young grad student then joined Stanford University Chemist Carolyn Bertozzi’s lab, where, together with other students, she embarked on a mission to discover a quicker way to diagnose TB.

The Breakthrough

The team soon discovered a new test that is able to recognize a microbe known as trehalose, which is exclusively found in bacteria that cause TB.

This test uses special substances that cause TB bacteria cells to glow green, making it easy for medical researchers to spot them under a microscope.

Compared to the current TB tests, Kamariza’s method has proved to be less laborious and more effective.

Kamariza and her team now hope to come up with a simple and quicker method of diagnosing the disease so that they can eliminate the six weeks that patients have to wait to get results under the current procedure.

She says that eradicating tuberculosis is a personal calling for her because she witnessed many of her villagers, including her close relative back in Burundi, die from the disease.


Agriculture entrepreneur from Madagascar wins $25,000 2016 Anzisha grand prize for African youth entrepreneurship. Read More

Agriculture entrepreneur from Madagascar wins $25,000 2016 Anzisha grand prize for African youth entrepreneurship. Read More

African Leadership Academy and The MasterCard Foundation are pleased to announce Heritiaina Randriamananatahina, 22 year-old agriculture entrepreneur from Madagascar, as this year’s winner of the $25,000 Grand Prize in the sixth annual edition of Africa’s premier award for youth entrepreneurship. Heritiaina is the founder of Fiombonana, an agro-processing enterprise that manufactures dairy products and confectioneries using only Malagasy raw materials, employing farmers and providing local job opportunities. Heritiaina was selected from a competitive pool of diverse entrepreneurs from all over Africa. For the first time ever, Anzisha Prize is pleased to award one of the top prizes to a finalist from Madagascar, creating a truly pan-African network of entrepreneurs who represent Africa’s best youth entrepreneurs.

This year, Anzisha Prize celebrates increased representation of winners from francophone countries. The first runner-up was environmental entrepreneur Yaye Souadou Fall, 21, from Senegal (who will receive $15,000) while agricultural entrepreneur N’guessan Koffi Jacques Olivier, 19, from Côte d’Ivoire was the second runner-up (and will receive $12,500).

The presence of two agriculture entrepreneurs in the top three is emblematic of the important role agriculture plays in Africa’s economies. Agriculture represented the sector with the largest share of applicants for the prize this year. The Agriculture Sector Prize was also claimed by N’guessan Koffi Jacques Olivier who demonstrated the potential for agriculture to create jobs for youth.

As the Grand Prize-winner, Heritiaina impressed a pan-African panel of judges with his venture response to a real need within his community, effective business model, job-creation potential, scalability, and demonstrated leadership potential. Fiombonana has enjoyed significant success to date including sizeable growth as Fiombonana produces 800 kg of cheese a week, with potential for rapid and low cost expansion due to innovations such as reverse-engineering machinery for food processing. “I am so excited to win the Anzisha Prize for 2016, even though I had to drop out of school when I was in grade six. My hard work in my business is paying off. I appreciate the training I have already received so far. Now that I have won, I will invest in my own education and grow my business,” says Heritiaina.

The first runner up for the prize, Yaye Souadou from Senegal and founder of E-cover, is also the first Senegalese entrepreneur ever in the top three in the history of Anzisha Prize. The core need the venture meets is to repurpose the many discarded tyres that are available in her home city, Dakar, into multi-purpose tiles for paving playgrounds, pavements, roads, and other surfaces. Yaye believes that youth can be agents of change to solve the problems that Africa faces and can drive pursuit of opportunities for economic growth. Her win will enable her to build the production capacity that her venture desperately needs in order to meet customer demand.

Chadian Political Hero Lives Modestly in the Bronx Despite Helping Topple a Dictator. Read More

Chadian Political Hero Lives Modestly in the Bronx Despite Helping Topple a Dictator. Read More

Although he is considered a celebrity by those who know the leading role he played in bringing down the former President of Chad, Hissene Habre (one of Africa’s most lethal dictators), Souleymane Guengueng now lives in a three bedroom apartment in a public housing complex in New York City. Guengueng was among the hundreds of people imprisoned and tortured in Chad during the authoritarian reign of President Habre. He would remain in prison for two and a half years.

After his release, Guengueng started recording testimonies of victims and relatives of the people who had died in the hands of President Habre. His evidence was crucial in the prosecution of Habre, who was sentenced to life in prison in May 2016.

“It was like an out-of-body experience for me. Habre is in prison now,” the 67-year-old Guengueng told the New York Times.


Despite his incessant determination to seek justice for hundreds of fellow Chadians and winning several human rights awards, Guengueng now lives a private simple life in a public housing complex in the Bronx, New York.

While in America receiving treatment for an injured retina, the father of seven started receiving threats from the supporters of President Habre, forcing him to move his wife and children to America through the help of his lawyer, Reed Brody.

Once his contract at Human Rights Watch ended, Guengueng had to work as a night watchman, which soon ended after he fell and broke his leg.

Before long, his oldest daughter, who was supporting the family with a restaurant job, fell sick and died. Guengueng’s wife also had a hard time adjusting to the unfamiliar lifestyle in America, including the drastic change in temperature.

The family had to move into a homeless shelter after they were unable to raise a monthly house rent of $2,000 for their tiny rental in Queens. But after many days of searching for government-subsidized housing, Guengueng managed to move his family from the shelter to their current three bedroom apartment in the Bronx.

“He is a hero. He’s done so much to change history. Yet his day-to-day life is one of hardships and heartbreaks,” his lawyer said.

Guengueng will be appearing in court later this week in an appeal case filed by former President Habre.

Habre, who ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990 before getting ousted in a coup, is accused of ordering the torture and killing of tens of thousands of people, many who he considered political opponents.


Entrepreneur Uses Lingerie To Encourage African Women To Love Their Skin Color.

Entrepreneur Uses Lingerie To Encourage African Women To Love Their Skin Color.

for many years, a lot of Black women have felt intimidated to wear swimming lingerie for fear of exposing their dark skin. It is for this reason that 47-year-old Sadia Sisay, a Black British fashion designer and entrepreneur, has decided to create a special type of lingerie that encourages Black women and other women of color to embrace their skin tone and body shape.

With her new brand, beingU, Sisay hopes to make women of color feel treasured and beautiful by wearing beautiful underwear designed with their body in mind. In a statement sent to Face2Face Africa, Sadia insists that making women feel visible is at the core of her brand.

“I’ve spent over 30 years searching for gorgeous underwear to suit my skin tone and body shape and this is the first range that addresses these things,” she explained.

She added that a recent survey conducted by beingU revealed that a staggering 80 percent of women interviewed in the U.S. and U.K. said they always encounter problems when looking for lingerie that matches their skin tone.

Dignity for Women

Sisay’s main motivation is the idea that women should always feel valued in everything they do.

She reveals that the idea to design lingerie that matches a woman’s skin tone was born out of watching her daughter grow into a young lady in an environment where her skin tone is often underrepresented.

With the new undergarment, Sisay hopes that her 21-year-old daughter will grow up in a world that celebrates women of all shapes, shades and sizes.

Her brand, which will be officially launched in February 2017, consists of three types of lingerie, namely; Kobicha (a shiny mesh collection with a three-piece bra and a high-waist brief), Yendi (a molded bra with padded straps and perfectly-positioned boy shorts), and Rosa (a lightly-lined bra with a deep V neckline and a high-waist thong).

Strong-Willed Entrepreneur

Sisay was born in Sierra Leone and relocated to the United Kingdom when she was 16. She trained as a cancer nurse and then worked in the pharmaceutical industry until 2008 when she decided to quit and start her own business.

She first tried to launch the brand in 2011 but soon decided to put it on hold due to some personal challenges.

That same year, she won two prestigious awards for the startup concept including the Precious Business of the Year Award and the Precious Entrepreneur of the Year Award.


Nigeria’s Yemi Alade Receives Official Invite to the 2017 Grammy Awards

Nigeria’s Yemi Alade Receives Official Invite to the 2017 Grammy Awards

Organizers of the Grammy Awards have extended an official invitation to Nigerian afro-pop music diva Yemi Alade for the 2017 show in February.

Alade, the African new school music sensation enjoyed phenomenal career success in 2016, dropping multiple hits that dominated the contemporary music scene across Africa.

She capped off her incredible year by posting a picture of an invitation to attend the 2017 Grammy Awards on her Facebook.

The photo which she captioned “Just Got Mail” displayed the official Grammy invite and an accompanying envelope:

The invitation is a first for Alade, who hit the limelight in Nigeria after winning a reality talent show in 2009. Alade is not on the list of nominees for this year’s Grammy’s and it is unclear as to what capacity she will be attending the awards, but it is definitely a recognition of Alade’s talent and achievements during the past few years.

In 2016, the singles “Want You” and “Gucci Ferragamo” off her sophomore album titled Mama Africa, went on to become massive hits on the continent, earning her a string of award wins and nominations.

At the 2016 MTV Africa Music Awards, Alade set a new record by becoming the first artist to win the award for Best Female Artist for tge second year in a row. She was also nominated for Best International Act at the 2016 BET Awards, which she lost to South Africa’s Black Coffee. Alade also made the shortlist for the 2016 MOBO Awards in addition to several other nominations including the WatsUp TV Africa Music Awards.

The 27-year-old Alade is a UN Ambassador for Peace and a graduate of the University of Lagos. In recent times, she has been hit with criticism over the lack of depth and creativity in her lyrics, which have been described as amateurish and repetitive. Putting up a picture of her Grammy Awards invite on social media was perhaps her way of replying to her critics.

The 2017 Grammy Awards will be the 59th edition of the show. The ceremony is scheduled for February 12th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.


Water Shortage Hits Nairobi Kenya.

Water Shortage Hits Nairobi Kenya.

Perhaps one of the many things that make Nairobi such a distinctive city is the black water tanks atop residential homes. The tanks are a preventive measure in response to the water scarcity in Nairobi County. While residents of other countries may be daunted by such scarcity, not Nairobians. They not only stock up but also make do with the disadvantage by turning it into a trade.

Consequently, it is not strange to see small scale traders selling water gallons at say $.20 to those who do not have tapped water. Major supermarket outlets such as Nakumatt, Naivas, Tuskys, and Uchumi are earning money from selling water tanks from as little as $9.50.

While Nairobian homes with taps have water during certain days of the week, it is not enough to sustain the needs of the county residents.

On January 1st, 2017, the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company posted an advertisement in the local dailies showing its water rationing schedule for the affluent and middle-class estates. The notice comes days after the Kenyan government had warned citizens that one of its major dams, the Thika Dam in Ndakaini, is short of water. The dam acts as a reservoir for the rain water expected during the October to December period, which didn’t come to fruition last year.

” It is frustrating for the common Nairobian and Kenyan who lack the means to afford expensive water tanks during such water shortage. I have to divide the little water I buy from sellers between washing and drinking tasks, which is not easy. Why I am still required to pay a monthly water bill, yet there is no constant water flowing from taps is a mystery” a local citizen who wanted to remain anonymous said.

There have been media reports that some corrupt business people take advantage of the problems facing citizens by colluding with county government officials to create an artificial water shortage in order to create demand.

The county government alleges that some Nairobian homes, especially in slum areas like Kibera and Mathare, are not being impacted by the water shortage because they use illegal water meters to avoid paying bills.

While there is a Water Services Regulatory Board to deal with such issues, the effect is not quite felt by the average citizen. After the new constitution was passed six years ago, Kenyans expected to be able to access basic resources, such as water, without problems of bureaucracy and corruption.


Wow Asidu Abudu – A true Ghanaian inventor.

Wow Asidu Abudu – A true Ghanaian inventor.

Asidu Abudu is a Ghanaian inventor who started inventing mechanical instruments at a young age. He is CEO and MD of a small company named Foresight Investments Ltd. and holds a degree in mechanical engineering. He has invented numerous devices that are designed to ease people’s lives. Although they are still prototypes, they are quite fascinating.

One of them is a fufu pounding machine which could ease the lives of African women in villages and cities in food preparation, for instance. Another one is an automatic eating machine that can help the disabled, among others.

Just like other African inventors on the continent, Asidu Abudu has also conceived devices that use telecommunication technologies. One of them is a surveillance camera embedded in a mobile phone. No matter the distance, within seconds, the owner can see his car on his mobile phone. Thus, if someone opens a door, the camera will signal it to the owner who will then be able to see who is opening the door.

Another example is a device that enables you to stop the car engine using one’s mobile phone or somebody else’s phone. If, for instance, a car that is equipped with “the car tracking system” is stolen, wherever the owner is, all he has to do is to dial his code from any other phone (mobile or landline) that will send a signal to the car and the engine will stop running.

A lack of a serious industrial strategy in most African countries is the biggest hindrance to economic and social developments. Such a young inventor is only an infinitesimal representation of the creative genius of Africans. All they need to better help their continent are “support” and “recognition”.

By Musah Idriss

Ugandan Women Use Boxing To Get Out of Slum. Read Full Story

Ugandan Women Use Boxing To Get Out of Slum. Read Full Story

Struggling to survive the harsh realities of life in the slum, some women have found a glimmer of hope through boxing in Katanga, Kampala, the largest slum in Uganda.

For Hellen Baleke, an amateur female boxer in Uganda, learning to box is not just leisure; it’s the only way to survive in the Katanga slum, where crime is rife. Speaking of her experience, the 24-year-old says she got into boxing at the age of 16, after suffering a horrifying attack by a man in the slum, “He beat me so bad that I started crying and bleeding from the nose,” Baleke told Al Jazeera.

The incident led her to joining the Rhino Boxing Club, where she still trains.

Although she is still an amateur boxer, Baleke has participated in 14 contests in Uganda and neighboring Kenya, and she has already won three medals.

Her feat in the male-dominated sport has attracted other women to the sport, including Baleke’s 20-year-old half-sister Diana Tulyanado, 17-year-old Lydia Nantale, and 23-year-old Morine Nakilyowa.

Government’s Neglect

Baleke, along with her boxing peers, blame the government for showing little interest in female boxers. They say the Ugandan Ministry of Sports has denied them the recognition it has given their male counterparts.

They cite a 2012 incident, when they qualified for the International Boxing Association’s World Amateur Boxing Championships. The government failed to fund their trip to compete in China.

Uganda Professional Boxing Commission Vice President Salim Saad Uhuru blamed the ministry of sports, in particular, for letting the team down and added that corruption has been the major obstacle in growing Uganda’s sporting potential.

“I blame the Ministry of Sports. It has let us down absolutely. If you see the officials who went to the last Olympics, they were more than participants. That is so absurd. How do you pay an official more money than a participant?” Uhuru protested.

Poverty & Ignorance

While the Ugandan government purportedly carries the biggest blame for its underfunded female boxers, in general, girls and women face a number of other serious challenges.

According to 23-year-old Julliet Segujja, head volunteer for Kids Club Kampala, most of the girls living in Katanga do not go to school at all or are forced to drop out of school at an early age due to early pregnancy and marriage. Poverty has also forced many young girls into prostitution.

But these obstacles have been a motivating factor for Uganda’s female boxers who are determined to succeed in the sport and possibly represent Uganda at future major international tournaments.


US celebrates Nigerian doctor for successful operation on unborn baby in mother’s womb (photos)

US celebrates Nigerian doctor for successful operation on unborn baby in mother’s womb (photos)

United State-based Nigerian Surgeon, Dr Oluyinka Olutoye, has achieved a feat by performing a rare surgical operation in carrying out a successful operation on an unborn baby with tumour in her mother’s womb.

Professor Olutoye of Texas Children’s Hospital, alongside his surgeon partner carried out the delicate surgery on a 23 weeks old foetus who was removed from the mother’s womb, operated upon and returned to the womb to heal and continue to grow until the baby girl was born at 36 weeks.

Baby Lynlee Hope suffered from a tumour known as Sacrococcygeal Teratoma.

Doctors discovered a tumour in the tailbone of Margaret Boemer’s unborn baby when the mother-to-be went for a routine ultrasound just 16 weeks into her pregnancy.

Dr. Olutoye’s success has made headlines in the US.

The Nigerian Government also congratulated him on Monday.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, felicitated with Dr Olutoye on behalf of the President and people of Nigeria.

According to the statement, President Muhammadu Buhari received the news of the unique feat with excitement and fulfillment and looking forward to meeting with him soonest.

Commended Nigerians in the Diaspora for their positive roles in enhancing the image of the country, Dabiri-Erewa stated that it is important to celebrate Dr Olutoye for the wonderful feat he performed in saving lives and projecting the good image of Nigeria.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President said Nigerians in the Diaspora are a huge potential, playing greater role in all sectors, assuring that her office was working on having a database for all the Nigeria achievers.

“Nigerians are great people, making greater positive impacts in all fields of human endeavour in the Diaspora. Dr Olutoye’s feat is one of such testimonies,” the statement added.

To complement that, Dabiri-Erewa said that Nigeria is working on a National Diaspora Policy guideline geared towards regulating all engagements with all Nigerians in the Diaspora.

According to her, Nigerians in the Diaspora are of high importance to the growth and development of the country.

She appealed to other Nigerians in the Diaspora to emulate the positive image Dr Oluyinka Olutoye has given to Nigeria which earned him recognition.

Dr Olutoye is Co-Director of the Texas Children’s Fetal Center and fetal surgery team member, as well as a general paediatric surgeon in USA.

Dr Olutoye received his medical degree from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, in 1988 and his PhD in anatomy from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, in 1996.

He completed his residency in general surgery at the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals, Virginia Commonwealth University, and his fellowship in paediatric surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pa.

In addition, he is a member of the International Fetal Medicine and Surgery Society and is a Fellow of the Surgical Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Surgeons; he is also a Fellow of the West African College of Surgeons.

credit –