Safaricom launched Kenya’s ﬁrst and only mobile overdraft service last year to ensure that customers of the company’s M-Pesa mobile money-transfer service had enough money in their accounts to complete transactions. Fuliza gives customers the option of borrowing money to cover the balance. Within three months of the rollout, more than 4 million customers had tapped some US$170 million in credit.
29th Most Influential Project of 2020
As massive swarms of desert locusts began to invade East Africa, agricultural data analysis firm Gro Intelligence stepped in, launching free data tools in April to fight off the bugs—and the threat of human hunger they leave in their wake. By tracking and predicting where the locusts will hit next, Locust Impact Tool Kit allows farmers to proactively apply pesticides, and humanitarian groups to forecast food shortages and deliver targeted relief.
21st Most Influential Project of 2020
Dangote Group’s project near Lagos, Nigeria will deliver one of the world’s largest oil refineries. When it’s completed in 2021, the refinery will meet 100 percent of the country’s petroleum needs and, as the largest oil refinery in Africa, it will create roughly 35,000 regional jobs. The team achieved a major milestone in December 2019 by installing the world’s largest crude distillation column.
20th Most Influential Project of 2020
Senegalese-American musician Akon inked a deal with the government of Senegal in January to build a smart, sustainable city on 2,000 acres (809 hectares) near the country’s capital. The city would run exclusively on Akon’s proprietary cryptocurrency, Akoin—a trial run for what could lead to the integration of digital currency across Africa.
Four centuries after the first enslaved Africans arrived in the U.S., this 2019 project aimed to encourage investment in Ghana and tourism among the diaspora. Co-sponsored by the Ghanaian government, the Panafest Foundation and U.S. firm The Adinkra Group, the Year of Return was tied to already massive events like Afrochella. The payoff: a 45 percent year-over-year boost in visitors and about US$1.9 billion injected into Ghana’s economy.
Developed by a Nigerian education startup, the app was launched in March—less than six months after the company raised US$3.1 million in seed funding. Users in five African nations began using the app to take exams and track their learning progress. An offline component allows uLesson’s full content library to be sent to registered users on memory cards—no internet connection required.
One of the world’s largest subsea projects, 2Africa will deliver a major internet boost to 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Announced in May and backed by the likes of Facebook, Vodafone and China Mobile, the US$1 billion project will add 37,000 kilometers (23,000 miles) of cable and is expected to go live by 2024.
German automotive giant Volkswagen and Dutch research organization AMO developed the electric tractor concept with sub-Saharan African conditions in mind. Premiered in February, the e-tractor is intended to bolster productivity among small-scale subsistence farmers while reducing their carbon footprint. Next up: feasibility studies in partnership with Volkswagen Group South Africa and others.
Designed by Kliment Halsband Architects, this self-sustaining, US$1.35 million surgical facility offers a prototype for delivering healthcare to resource-poor areas. The 743-square-meter (8,000-square-foot) center in the rural Ugandan village of Kyabirwa is partially powered by a canopy of solar panels, with water sourced from a well and rain collection as well as the town’s supply. There’s also an on-site vegetable garden that has fed patients and staff since the facility’s debut last September.
There are solar power plants. There are even floating solar plants. And now there’s what French developer Qair is billing as the largest floating solar plant to be installed on saltwater. Plans were unveiled last year, and once completed, the 5-megawatt installation will include 13,500 solar panels and account for about 2 percent of total power generation on the island nation.