by Patrick Hearn

Last week, Holistic Innovations had the pleasure to meet with a “Pride of Lions” in Johannesburg. From banking, insurance, transportation, telecommunications and more, there was a unity within the many views the time is now to create a “hard wire” of innovation between Silicon Valley and Africa

One of the largest reasons for creating a “hard wire” is very basic. Ostensibly Silicon Valley does not know Africa and Africa does not know Silicon Valley. This stems from a mindset that the technologies that come from Silicon Valley are not “localized” for the African context. It is also due to the fact the Venture Capital community has no strong presence in Africa. Small Medium Enterprises in South Africa do not have mechanisms to expand their growth and the established large organizations are so focused on “Maintaining Core Business” (or H1 business issues), it precludes the ability to create a genuinely new business (or H3 business).

Yet the number of new opportunities that could provide Silicon Valley an access to an additional 1.2 billion consumers in less than 20 years are enormous. These markets are being highly pursued by other geographic centers of innovation to the disadvantage of Silicon Valley. One small example of successful application is micro-manufacturing.

The photo you see is a drone used by the Gondwana Conservation Foundation in South Africa. The Gondwana reserve has focused on the protection of elephants, black rhinos, and cheetahs. One of the main tools is the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as part of poacher detection programs and ranger support. Like any device, there is the possibility of wear and tear and of course damage during normal operations. In the case of this UAV, its maintenance program is backed by a 3D printer on the reserve that is able to make replacement parts for the UAV. This eliminates many of the logistical issues associated with UAV’s in remote areas and shows another application of how micro-manufacturing can be part of the leapfrog opportunities in Africa.

Silicon Valley; it is time to wake up!!

Patrick Hearn