Guest blog by Jonathan Batty
The Project aims to inspire stories of grand challenges, innovation and city systems across Africa
This month IBM, A24Media, iHub and photographer Mutua Matheka launched a project called ‘The World is Our Lab' which invites people of all abilities to capture visual stories of various aspects of life in Africa through the lens of a camera.
Following the official inauguration of IBM's 12th global research lab and first in Africa, the project highlights the lab's mission to conduct applied and far-reaching exploratory research into the grand challenges of the African continent by delivering commercially-viable innovations that impact people's lives.
Whether their image is captured on a camera phone or professional camera, participants could win a chance to visit IBM's new research lab in Nairobi, laptops with photo editing software, a photography workshop with a leading African photographer and a trip to Hemingways Watamu Hotel on the Kenyan coast.
The 'World is Our Lab' competition will run for three months, with winners being announced in February 2014. Entries are invited from all over Africa, and will fall into three main categories: African Grand Challenges, African City Systems and African Innovation. For example, judges will be looking for photos that express how people living in Africa manage their energy or water needs, how they commute, how cities live and breathe and how people come up with innovative solutions to address their needs and create new opportunities. The panel of judges will include Mutua Matheka, Erik Hersman from iHub, Salim Amin from A24 Media and Uyi Stewart. Chief Scientist, IBM Research - Africa.
To enter, participants should capture original images that best define each category and upload them to the official competition website:www.theworldisourlabafrica.com
For more information and to enter the competition, please go to:www.theworldisourlabafrica.com
African Grand Challenges
What are the grand challenges that need to be addressed for Africa to realize its potential? Is it improved access to food and drinkable water? Health services in places where there are less than one doctor for over 1,000 people? Is it more universal access to electricity in cities which current only reaches 20% of the population? Is it transport in cities where travelling two kilometers can currently take over an hour on the roads? Or is it the ability to hold governments accountable and track their progress?
Share the images that best illustrate your country’s biggest challenges, focus areas and opportunities for transformation.
African City Systems
What systems do African cities depend on? Infrastructure like roads, buildings and bridges? Organizations and systems that manage a city's transportation, healthcare, security, government, water, energy services? The systems we use to live and communicate - such as telephones, internet and social media? Or is it the places in a city where people and communities come together - such as markets, bus stations, town squares and sports stadiums? What makes a city smart?
Capture images that define how a city lives and breathes.
What are the solutions that people are putting in place across Africa to overcome the challenges of daily life and create new opportunities? New technologies applied to address perennial problems such as solar panels and wind turbines or old technologies given a new lease of life like radio used to deliver education in remote regions? The creative ways individuals or communities live, communicate and trade such as mobile money transfer systems, information systems and applications? Or is it the low-tech but effective homemade devices such as seed planters, paraffin lamps and shoes made from recycled materials? Do the people and solutions of Africa's new hi-tech sector signify innovation?
Capture images that define Africa's innovative and creative spirit.