On Saturday 17 October the NVAS Africa and Technology day was held at UNESCO-IHE in Delft. More than 100 participants attended this highly informative, but pleasantly informal, day full of various presentations on the meaning and use of technology in Africa and exhibitions of technological objects used in Africa.
report by Iva Pesa
The first keynote speech was given by Jeroen van der Sommen, from AKVO, a not-for-profit foundation that creates open source, internet and mobile software and sensors. He offered a good introduction to what the opportunities of ICTs in Africa are – detailing about how one can monitor water levels in boreholes in Liberia by using a mobile phone, and how this information can subsequently be shared through open source software to generate information databases which can make development planning more efficient and effective. After that, there were four parallel sessions on various topics, by Katrien Pype on technology cultures in urban DR Congo; by Sjaak van der Geest on medical anthropology; by Roos Keja on mobile phones and civic participation in Togo; and by Tessa Pijnaker on game developers in Ghana.
After the general NVAS meeting it was time for lunch, which was wonderfully African themed, including beans, bananas, spicy stews, sambusas, nshima and chapatis. Lunchtime was also an opportunity to visit one of the numerous exhibitions, which ranged from various forms of improved cook stoves, to a film on Ghanaian scientists, WakaWaka lights, a workshop on urban mining and mobile phones, a frugal thermometer, TAHMO weather stations, rope making, a brick making machine, a fish drying machine and water pumps. As if that is not exciting enough, there was also some good African music to liven everybody up.
After the lunch the parallel presentation sessions continued. This time there was Victor Langenberg and Martin van der Knaap on food safety and fisheries; Paul van Beers talked about water pumps; Iva Pesa talked about frugal innovations; Helena Hansson talked about design for frugal innovation and the mediator approach; whereas Hilje van der Horst talked about improved cook stoves. The day was nicely wrapped up by the last keynote speech by Jan-Bart Gewald, who talked about Nkoloso and rocketry in Africa.
“take one thing from the NVAS day and to spread this as a message on our next trips to Africa”, Felix Ameka, NVAS director at the Africa and Technology day 17.10.2015
Before we ended the day, Ton Dietz announced the Africa Thesis Award, which was won by Merel van ‘t Wout and her beautiful thesis ‘Entrepreneurs by the Grace of God’ on seamstresses in Ghana. In line with the informal atmosphere of the day we ended with cheerful drinks and the message by the NVAS director Felix Ameka to take one thing from the NVAS day and to spread this as a message on our next trips to Africa.
Many thanks to all participants to the NVAS day, we had a truly mixed and pleasant crowd. Without you the day could not have been a success. We hope to welcome you again next year, when the theme will be Africa, Sports and Health!