Hope you’re doing well.
After months of work by the teams, I’d like to invite you to the Finals Ceremony of the Welcome To Nigeria Challenge holding tomorrow at 1pm West African Time. You’ll hear the teams present their designs and find out who wins!
In case you missed it, here’s last month’s newsletter.
As many technology jobs go remote, it opens up opportunities for people across the world. Software jobs are usually a good candidate; with a reliable internet connection and a laptop you can work from anywhere. Four out of every ten African software developers now work for at least one company based outside of the continent, and with that also comes other kinds of jobs: program managers, technology recruiters, and more. It’s good business for both parties: the companies get great talent at an affordable rate and the developers get international income.
Hardware developers are not so lucky, as they usually need a physical location to get work done making remote work is less possible. Governments try to get multinational companies to establish manufacturing sites, as a way to train the local population in some hardware skills, but that can take some time to get up to speed - I previously mentioned how the Senegalese government is learning this lesson. Last month, the Egyptian government hosted STMicroelectronics — the Swiss electronics and semiconductor manufacturing giant, also referred to as ST — who had just reportedly opened an R&D centre in Maadi, Egypt.
What is missing in those reports is that eight years ago Riot Micro, then an LTE chip startup based in Canada, opened a design shop in Cairo run by Egyptian engineers. In 2017, they released their first chip and three years ago were acquired by STMicroelectronics in a move to strengthen the cellular communication capabilities of their STM32 portfolio. They’ve never closed their office in the country, thanks to a stream of talent from Cairo and Alexandria universities.
While there are other Egyptian electronics outfits that have been part of international acquisitions, this particular one is interesting to me because it’s quite similar to how companies like Andela ushered in the remote work boom to the African continent: by courting startups (usually in a resource pinch) who could save on talent costs by hiring remote workers. Another hardware startup doing something similar is Tet’langech who have design teams across Uganda and Korea working on remote sensing technologies. It would be interesting to see if this develops into something bigger over the next few years, maybe a design & fab shop that caters to different clients?
While many people are excited by the growth of the motorcycle industry in East Africa, Nation Africa reports that there has been a correlated growth in accidents — causing something of a public health concern across the region. It’s an interesting piece with reporting from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Zanzibar, and Tanzania that raise a question of whether this could be tackled with better boda boda design.
Thanks to significant government interest, it looks like the continent is gradually emerging as a automobile production hub. A couple of years ago, Morocco overtook South Africa as the biggest African exporter of passenger cars with exports in over $10 billion, a number that is increasing thanks to the country’s proximity to European markets.
Intelli Switch by Neverest IOT is a remote power control system for ISPs. [Kenya]
Micro Hydro Turbine is a concept for generating small amounts of power on waterways without the need for a dam. [Nigeria]
The HUBiquitous Accelerator Programme is receiving applications from idea or prototype-stage startups building solutions in the agrifood, smart cities, health, and green economy sectors from Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania.
Deadline: June 30
The Internet of Production Alliance is looking for contractors to do research and technical authoring on open standards for data, knowledge and know-how related to hardware and manufacturing.
In Nigeria, ThinkBikes is developing electric tricycles for cargo delivery targeting urban markets and places with similar haulage needs. Currently, they’re piloting a rental system for tertiary institutions.
Until next time,
This month’s Community Chat is with Ahmed Alaa, a embedded systems engineer in Cairo who manages the Egypt Makes Electronics Innovation Space - a fab shop and co-working space for Egyptian hardware entrepreneurs. He’s also active in the Open Source Hardware space. Join us!