Is Tomisin a teenager with innovative talent?

Judging from this reporter’s discovery of Tomisin Ogunnubi, a Lagos based teenage schoolgirl’s intriguing innovative gift, IJEOMA NDUKWE, of the BBC news asks rhetorically: Is this African teenager a future coding superstar?
Schoolgirl Tomisin Ogunnubi is a teenager with a passion for programming.
Three years ago she created My Locator, an app which helps children who are lost.
The mobile app, which is available on the Google Play Store, has already been downloaded more than 1,000 times since its debut in 2016.
“The app can also link you to Google Maps and show you the directions from your current location to the location that you had previously saved,” says Tomisin, who is now 15 and studies in Ikeja, Nigeria.
Urgent response “It also has a functionality where when you click on an alert button.
It sends a text message and makes a phone call – that’s if you’ve enabled it in your settings – to a particular number that you’ve designated to it.
“It could be an emergency number or it could be a family member’s number.
It’s basically your choice.
So in case of an emergency, when you need an urgent response, it sends your current address to that number so somebody can easily locate where you are.” “I was very conscious about security, thinking… there are different dangerous people, so I guess the idea of being able to go out safely might have been what triggered the idea for the app,” she explains.
“But it was me then as my 12-year-old self thinking, ‘Oh I’ve just learned how to create applications.
How about I use what I have learned to create something that can be useful to me and other people?’” Aniedi Udo-Obong, a programme manager at Google, says there is a lack of Nigerian role models in the industry, with most people in the country still pointing to figures like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.
But more graduates are recognising the sector as a viable way to make a living and to founding technology firms, he adds. Aniedi regularly comes across entrepreneurs brimming with ideas in his role at Google.
His job includes building relationships with developers to boost the sector across Africa. He admits there’s a need to improve My Locator, but says that Tomisin has already made the most important step.
“I’m impressed with Tomisin’s app for two reasons.
I prefer to see products in whatever state they are than to hear about the most brilliant idea,” he says.
“I like the fact that someone hatched an idea in their head and was able to bring it to fruition and complete it.” Junior talents Tomisin’s computer science teacher, Kofoworola Cole, says the teenager’s achievements have changed the school’s approach to teaching the subject.
It’s also had a ripple effect among her fellow students.
“It gave us more courage to be able to start from junior students, normally we focused on seniors.
But when Tomisin was able to achieve that, we knew that, yes, there are talents in the junior school,” she says. Also in Tanzania, in Africa, a teenager, Bernard Kiwia, is amazing the world with his inventions. Bernard Kiwia can make almost anything from a bicycle.
He first became known for inventing a mobile phone charger operated by, yes, a bicycle.
Bernard started work as a bicycle mechanic until he realised that he could make many more things from the spare bicycle parts.
He started inventing, and hasn’t stopped.
“I create technologies because I realise it’s something that can help my family and the community,” Bernard says.
But it’s not just bicycles.
The windmill operated washing machine he has invented saves his family time and effort as it washes their clothes when the wind picks up overnight.
Bernard’s inventing has now stretched from his own house and garden across his community.
About 800 local innovators have used Twende, the inventors’ workshop he started. He’s been called “the father of rural innovation” in Tanzania.
“What we want to show people is they have skills to make their own technology that they can afford, they can repair, they can find the spare parts that they need,” Bernard says.
“With local people, their income is always small and the kind of machines you can buy in the shop are not made for these local people because they’re expensive.
That’s why I’m focusing on local.” Fertilizing innovations One of those local innovators is Frank Mollel who invented the “Fert-Cart”, an adapted wheelbarrow, which helps to cut down the time it takes to spread manure and fertiliser on fields by hand.
Frank’s business model includes FertCarts that can be rented out to farmers who don’t have enough land and profits to be able to afford to purchase his invention.
Twende makes sure all those in their workshops learn good business practices and come up with a business plan.
One of Frank’s clients says that using the machine has enabled him to afford his children’s school fees.
“Fert-Cart cuts down the billion of hours that are lost in agriculture activities,” Frank says.
“Africa, especially Tanzania, needs the novel technology that can help farmers to increase their crop productivity and income among the smallholder farmers.” Green gold Jesse Oljange’s avocado oil press is already changing the lives of his community.
“Twende is a social innovation itself,” Jesse says.
“You have people doing different projects in the same room.
So if you have a problem you can reach out to anyone on the table and you will find the solution.” Before the oil press, the avocados would rot where they fell because the farmers could not get a high enough price at the market.
Now women in the local community are using it to extract the oil which they sell in the market.
Jesse says that being involved with Twende has also enabled him to apply for funding using the workshop as an umbrella organisation.
Funding and access to capital are two of the main challenges for local innovators like Jesse.
Most of all, having a mentor like Bernard helps.
“If you have a problem you can’t get your head around, tell Bernard, he just thinks about it for two minutes and will tell you – go this way.
So, we have a lot of mentoring too,” says Jesse.

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