Ethiopia had no system for keeping or sharing education performance records. And that made it all but impossible for students to prove their academic credentials to potential employers or higher-learning institutions—which often severely limited their prospects. Looking to change that, the Ministry of Education in April announced Atala Prism, a national digital database developed by Hong Kong’s IOHK, the company behind Cardano cryptocurrency. The new system will provide secure digital identities to 5 million students.
14th Most Influential Project of 2021
Tourism fuels 8 percent of Kenya’s GDP. But poaching, climate change and a human population explosion are putting many of the country’s most well-known animals—and economic growth—at risk. So three government agencies launched the country’s first systematic census this year, a three-month, US$2.3 million project to better track where Kenya’s most threatened species live and to glean conservation insights and strategies for some of its 25,000 species. Among other things, the collected data will help develop conservation policies, and help the central government and local authorities plan infrastructure projects in ways that mitigate damage to wildlife. Now Kenya plans to conduct a wildlife census every three years.
29th Most Influential Project of 2021
Ghanaian-British starchitect David Adjaye has a vision for the Edo Museum of West African Art in Benin City, Nigeria. He wants to immerse visitors in objects, while “undoing … the objectification” of African art from the Western perspective. The building will sit atop the ruins of the capital of the Kingdom of Benin, which the British sacked in 1897. Archaeologists, working with the British Museum, will unearth parts of the fallen city, and the artifacts they uncover will be housed nearly in situ at the museum. By integrating archeology into the project design, the museum underscores how the past informs the present—and offers visitors an opportunity to truly appreciate the culture of Benin City.
40th Most Influential Project of 2021
The pandemic brought an astounding digital transformation in the education sector. Yet more than 30 percent of children around the world are unable to access remote learning platforms, according to UNICEF. The lesson? The world needs more classrooms. To close the gap, Thinking Huts is proposing a new vision, unveiling plans earlier this year to create one of the world’s first 3D-printed schools. Created in partnership with Hyperion Robotics and architecture firm Studio Mortazavi, the school—complete with all foundational, electrical and plumbing essentials—will be built in less than a week and with limited skilled labor.
48th Most Influential Project of 2021
The US$260 million road and rail bridge that links Zambia to Botswana across the Zambezi River has the potential to redirect the flow of traffic throughout much of Africa—and provide a major lift to the region’s economy. Before the bridge opened in May, a ferry was the only option, and truckers could spend 14 days or more waiting and dealing with transit formalities. Completed by South Korea’s Daewoo Engineering & Construction, the bridge is now as lively as it is fast—and a big win for government leaders planning a larger infrastructure push that extends along the North-South Corridor.
Co-produced by South African platform Showmax and French TV production house CANAL+, the eight-episode Crime and Justice tackles tough topics like domestic violence and femicide. But what truly sets this project apart? This is African content for African audiences. Adam Neutzsky-Wulff, a series co-creator and director, says in developing the project, it was important “to have some stories where Kenyans could reflect themselves.” The potential is huge: Streaming video content across the continent is expected to grow at 5 times its current rate to reach 13 million subscribers by 2025.
Kenya’s first major public-private partnership project could dramatically cut congestion in Nairobi’s busiest areas—and pave the way to a new way of getting things done. Kenya National Highways Authority estimated that in 2019, the country was losing over KES50 million daily due to traffic jam- and accident-related delays. So the agency joined forces with China Road and Bridge Corp. to build a 27-kilometer (17-mile) expressway that could slash rush-hour travel times from two hours to about 15 minutes. And that could be a boon for the whole region: Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia estimated the new expressway will carry 85 percent of all cargo and commuter traffic in surrounding areas. The US$600 million project is expected to wrap in early 2022. For now, the main benefit is an economic boost in the form of 1,800 locals hired to support the project.
The largest renewable energy project in South Africa to date is a ZAR11.6 billion solar power plant led by Saudi developer ACWA Power in partnership with local partners, including the Central Energy Fund and Pele Green Energy. Plans for the 100-megawatt Redstone project include a 12-hour thermal storage system that will deliver clean and reliable electricity to nearly 200,000 households. The project will also support South Africa’s decarbonization efforts and socioeconomic growth by displacing approximately 440 metric tons of carbon emissions per year and creating more than 2,000 construction jobs at its peak. Now being built, the plant is scheduled to begin operations in late 2023.
Over three years, the Elephant Listening Project eavesdropped on the rainforest of the Republic of Congo via 50 microphones hidden in trees. The mission was to listen for the call of elusive forest elephants to understand where they are, what they’re doing, and what they’re trying to communicate. But the recordings also captured hundreds—possibly thousands—of other species. In June, the project released all 1 million hours of soundscapes for researchers all over the world to use in their own biodiversity efforts.
This multipurpose port sits at the heart of the Lagos Free Zone in Nigeria. But location alone isn’t what sets it apart: Designed to handle 4 million metric tons of dry goods annually, it will be the deepest in sub-Saharan Africa, contributing an estimated US$361 billion to the Nigerian economy. Project partners include CMA CGM, China Harbour Engineering Co. and U.S. engineering giant WSP. In March, the team announced the port was about halfway done, with operations slated to begin in late 2022.