King Baudouin African Development Prize Winners
I was recently called upon by the King Baudouin Foundation to document the innovations of this year’s King Baudouin African Development Prize winners. The Prize rewards outstanding contributions to development initiated and led by Africans in Africa. It also seeks to draw public attention to the many inspirational stories, including challenges and successes, emerging from Africa.
Barefoot Law, Uganda
There are approximately 2,600 registered lawyers in Uganda, and most of them operate in Kampala. Uganda has population of around 39 million, and of these, only 1.5 million live in Kampala. To bridge the access to legal information gap this disparity causes, led by Gerald Abila, Barefoot Law provides free legal information via SMS, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. They are the first online legal service in East Africa.
From their offices in Kampala, the Barefoot Law legal team confers on queries that they receive before responding to them.
I got to accompany Maureen and Isaac from Barefoot Law on a client visit to Kyebando Ndoa Suburb in Kampala’s Kawempe District.
They were visiting Jane who lives with her two sons in her brother’s one-roomed house.
For several years, she worked hard to raise enough money and successfully built a multi-roomed house where she could live comfortably with her family. One evening, she returned home to find that her husband had sold all their belongings, and a few weeks later, the house she’d worked hard to build.
After moving from law firm to law firm seeking help and none coming her way, she shared her story with Barefoot Law who are now providing her with the legal advice that will help her get her home back.
As the legal process continues, Jane uses her skills to earn a living for her family.
I hope that one day she will return to the comfortable house she once called home.
In partnership with ThinVoid, Barefoot Law also provides free legal advice to boda boda operators.
You can find out more about Barefoot Law here.
Small holder farmers are the backbone of African economies. Their impact on improving livelihoods and growing economies would be greater if they had access to the right information.
Led by Alloysius Attah, Farmerline connects over 200,000 farmers with market information, peers and other organisations.
In Gyinase, Kumasi, I met Sam who receives weather and market price updates on his mobile phone from Farmerline’s Mergdata service. This useful information helps him plan his planting and harvesting, and sell his lettuce at a price that won’t allow middle men take advantage of him.
From Kumasi, I travelled by road to Assin South District.
In Kyekyewere, I met Asante Bismark and Dwomoh Kwasi Christopher spreading cocoa beans for drying near their farm. It was my first time seeing cocoa beans and as the farmers told me, weather plays a critical role in determining when one harvests and drys their beans.
By using Farmerline’s Mergdata service, Asante and Dwimoh receive weather updates that help them make decisions on the best time to harvest or dry their cocoa.
They and other cocoa farmers look forward to increased harvest quantity and quality thanks to farming information they’ve received from Farmerline’s Mergdata service.
I also got to meet Lazarus Azure Awuniy, a fish farmer in the Ashanti Region. He has four ponds with catfish and tilapia.
By subscribing to the Mergdata information service, he has seen revenue from his fish farming grow by 50%!
For Farmerline, it’s not just about providing information to farmers; it’s about relationships.
They take the time to meet the farmers using the Mergdata service to know how it can be improved and solve any challenges faced when using it.
You can find out more information about Farmerline here.
Access to text books is a hurdle that stands in the way of many pupils receiving a decent education in Kenya. Statistics show that only 1 in 10 Kenyan students has access to the text books needed by the curriculum. To get more text books to more students, Kytabu developed an innovative textbook content-leasing app for students. They’ve attracted 10 publishers who have made over 1,700 different text books accessible to over 12,700 students via Kytabu.
I met Kytabu’s Paul Mugambi and Tonee Ndung’u on their way to deliver a Kytabu Box to Dr Buconyori Free Methodist Boys School in Soy.
This was the first time the teachers were experiencing Kytabu so Paul and Tonee explained it to them first.
The students were next.
And in no time, they were Kytabu proficient.
Here’s more information about Kytabu.
The founders of Barefoot Law Uganda, Farmerline Ghana and Kytabu Kenya were awarded the 2016-17 King Baudouin African Development Prize on 20th June 2017 at the Royal Palace in Brussels. The award came with 75,000 euros for each of the winners to keep innovating. Gracing the ceremony were King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Gerald Abila, Alloysius Attah and Tonee Ndung’u, three Africans providing African solutions to African problems.