The TRUE Africa 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today and tomorrow. We’re featuring them over 100 days and we’ve asked them all three questions.
Obinna Ukwuani is a Nigerian economist and educator. He is the founder and former CEO of Exposure Robotics, a summer programme which teaches programming and mechanics to young people across Nigeria and Ghana. He is currently working on founding a secondary school and learning centre in Enugu, Nigeria, called Makers Academy, which will be the first STEM school of its kind in the country. Obinna tells us how it’ll be affordable for ordinary Nigerians and the African institution founder who inspires him.
Which upcoming innovations do you bet young Africans won’t be able to live without in a few years’ time?
There are a number of western companies like Facebook which are developing technology and services that will provide the ‘developing’ world with access to ubiquitous free or low-cost wireless broadband. In the developed world we take connectivity for granted and we would certainly have a hard time living without it now.
The more lives I touch, the more fulfilled I feel.
In the years to come, this will be the same for Africa as the services in question take off. 3D printing is actually a bigger paradigm shifter in my opinion but at the moment it’s difficult to know what its future impact will be in Africa. Perhaps it will allow Africans to leapfrog in manufacturing and innovation just as we did with telecommunications.
How will you make sure the Makers Academy will benefit all Nigerians and not just the ones who can afford it?
We’ve made it a priority to raise scholarship funds to create access to our core offerings and make our periphery programmes at Makers Academy affordable. My vision is to use the learnings and intellectual property of Makers Academy to create affordable programmes that deliver world-class education efficiently. The more lives I touch, the more fulfilled I feel.
Who is your African of the year?
Patrick Awuah is my African of the year. He is a humble giant by every metric that matters. He is building Ashesi University, an African institution that will be coveted globally. I look forward to sending students from my own pre-tertiary programmes to walk his halls.
Follow Obinna on Twitter @Oukwuani
Check out Makers Academy on makers.ng and Exposure Robotics at fb.com/exposurerobotics
Come back tomorrow for the next TRUE Africa 100 and keep up to date using the hashtag #TRUEAfrica