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.
Pierrick Chabi is a entrepreneur and software engineer. He is the CEO of Wakatoon, a startup that has developed an app which turns colouring books into personalised animation films. ‘Colour in a drawing on paper; take a picture of it with the Wakatoon app; and, hey presto, it comes to life onscreen,’ he explains.
He is also the co-founder of Startup Africa Paris, an organisation connecting entrepreneurs across Francophone Africa. And finally, he is the engineer behind Wakpon, an app which allows you to experience African contemporary art at the touch of a screen. It has been exhibited at Fondation Zinsou’s Ouidah museum in Benin and is currently on show at 1:54 Art Fair.
Tell us about the art app and how you got involved.
Last summer, I got in contact with the president of the Fondation Zinsou. She asked me what I was good at. I told her what I was able to do and that I would love to help her.
I specialise in augmented reality, which is something I have used in many projects. It is a technology I’ve been working on for ten years but never in art, unfortunately. The project with the Fondation Zinsou is one of the projects I feel most strongly about.
I couldn’t do the other projects anymore so I quit. This is one project where for the first time I feel like I’m doing something really interesting and where the technology will have a huge impact.
So, I explained how the tech works to the president of the Fondation Zinsou. ‘So you mean children in Benin,’ she asked, ‘can see the art without having to go there?’
I want to help 99% of the population; those people who aren’t spoken about in the media.
She immediately understood the way it works and, with her team, we did something different. Everyone in the world can now see our art. That’s how I got involved.
What tech in Africa are you excited about?
Any use of technology to solve problems makes sense to me. Technology is a way to educate people and to do many other useful things. The tech I prefer is not the kind which is geared towards cities but the one that directly helps poorer people in the countryside; tech in schools and in agriculture. I want to help 99% of the population; those people who aren’t spoken about in the media.
Who’s your African of the year?
My Africans of the year are the people who may be doing things right now but that we’ll probably only know about next year. So I can’t give you any names but I bet I will be able to soon.
Find out more about Pierrick at pierrickchabi.com
Follow Pierrick on Twitter @elbriso
Find out more about Wakpon at thewakponmuseumproject.org
Come back tomorrow for the next TRUE Africa 100 and keep up to date using the hashtag #TRUEAfrica