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Innovation for sustainability in Africa
Social businesses that make Africa move the 23/06/17

Every year, in June, over 50 newspapers from the world publish a series of articles on local initiatives that address global issues. This movement, known as Impact Journalism Day, aims to create a global community of changemakers and raise public awareness on positive innovations. Overseen by Sparknews, a Parisian social enterprise specialising in collaborative solutions journalism, the event will take place on June 24th.


SolarPack allows pupils to do their homework when they don’t have electricity in their house.

“There are thousands of inspiring initiatives that have developed innovative ways to address the world’s most pressing issues and that deserve to be more widely known,” says Christian de Boisredon, founder of Sparknews.

This year, commemorating the 5th edition of Impact Journalism Day, each article will be aligned with one or more of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.


And how is the African continent represented in this international #storyofchange?

There are currently 15 African media partners, writing in Arabic, English and French, who take part in the operation. This means that one in every four featured innovations originates from the continent, promoting home-grown solutions to local and global problems.

As Salem Mesalaha, founder of the featured Egyptian project Clickfunding Bassita remarks: « We do not have to copy European ideas. This time we invented an Egyptian method that will hopefully be copied by Westerners. »

Celebrating and encouraging positive impact enterprises in Africa is crucial for the continent’s sustainable development. A report from the African Development Bank nods towards improving socio-economic-political conditions in key areas; lower child mortality rates, universal primary education and 20 of the world’s most-improved economies. However, with the youngest population on the planet of over 200 million people (aged 15-24), an extra 1.8 billion people by 2050 and being hardest hit by climate change, an economy that prioritises social enterprise will prove key to continued socio-economic growth in the future.


And which African socents will the world read about tomorrow morning?

Addressing a variety of global issues varying from desertification to sanitation, road safety to crowd-funding, agriculture to marine conservation, innovation on the continent is very much alive and kicking.

Here are just three of tomorrow’s featured topics:

Learn how a Tunisian woman is taking on gender and climate justice one tree at a time with her project Acacias For All. Despite being the least polluting continent, it is Africa that is paying the highest price for climate change, with Tchad being named the driest country on the planet. Find out how her simple restorative planting techniques help the continent defer future droughts.

In coastal fishing communities in Madagascar, Skoll Foundation winner Blue Ventures, a science-led social is working to develop transformative approaches for nurturing and sustaining locally-led marine conservation.

And finally, read about Ivorian Evariste Akoumian, who is proving that education can light up both children’s futures and homes with his Solarpak creation. Coming from a computing background, the engineer was inspired to find a solution to poor energy access in rural communities. The idea is simple, small solar of 3 watts are sewn onto the bags and attached to a small internal battery that stores the solar energy. This energy then powers a LED lamp that is connected to the battery via a USB port, helping children study in the evening and families to work into the evening.

These are just three of the African projects being printed in Impact Journalism Day on June 24th. These three social entrepreneurs are paving the way for a new way to do business on the continent, showing that profit, development and conservation can be compatible.

As Evariste remarks, “when things are difficult one must not give up. On the contrary, we must have perseverance and courage, because nothing is easy.”
Be sure to read the 60 solution articles by “Impact Journalism Day”.


Written by Aimee Dorsett Browne, Sparknews

Photo credit : Evariste Akoumian, SolarPack

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