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NEW BOOKS: Innovative Africa: The new face of Africa (Technology & Startups)

I’m all about emerging markets. Innovation in technology in parts of the world that have historically been on the losing-end of tech-booms excites me. Here’s one book I’m looking forward to reading that was just published this month:  Innovative Africa: The new face of Africa by Will Mutua, Mbwana Alliy

We live in an age of increasing innovation taking place throughout the world. Easy access to cheap or free technology, social media networks and oceans of investors looking to seep their funds into the next game-changing idea has leveled the playing field and created fertile ground for entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs around the world to launch tech startups. It really is a new day.

Silicon Alley-based VC Eghosa Omoiguui is investing $30 million in African startups this year.

Africa (like many other parts of the world) is experiencing an “innovation rebirth” that is holding its own compared to other parts of the world. Particularly with regards to mobile technology (where African nations need and use technological innovations the most), it’s clear Africa is making strides in tech. (@MobileActive) documents research being done on the numerous mobile technological advances being done in third world countries and many poorer nations in Africa and the results are both surprising and hopeful. While Forbes recently did a post on Africa’s hottest tech startups which you can read here. And since we’re on the subject and I’m sharing, here are tweets from last week’s Open Innovation Africa Summit (#OIAS)  #innovation

Innovative Africa: The New Face of Africa is a compilation of essays discussing Africa’s current and potential future tech  startup economy. Can’t wait to get my hands on this one. Here are a few of the chapters that should make any entrepreneur, investor, marketer or techie want to grab this book and delve in:

  • Doing Tech Business in Africa: A Few Lessons from Twitter‘s Rise in Africa
  • Which African Country is Best To Do a Tech Startup?
  • The Road Ahead: Blueprint for Building Africa’s Tech Ecosystem
  • Disruptive Innovation in the African Tech Context
  • 7 Stepts to Raising Seed Investment for Africa-focused Tech Startups
  • Mending Africa’s Tech Skills Gap & Tapping into its Youthful Population to Power Innovation in Tech
  • The Making of Silicon Valleys in Africa
  • Looking East: Observations and Lessons for Africa from China’s Startup Ecosystem and Special Economic Zones

Below is more about the book from the publisher. You can also download a preview of the first few chapters here. It’s available on Amazon here.


Technology and Innovation are playing a vital role in shaping Africa’s future and will continue to do so. This collection of essays on the ‘New face of Africa’ posits an African continent where technology, innovation and entrepreneurship create new opportunities for even further growth on the continent.

We look at a wide array of issues that affect the creation, growth and sustainability of startup and innovation ecosystems around the continent. The book does not seek to address issues at the level of a specific country or locality, but instead looks at things from a broad and high level, with the intention of highlighting issues that are pertinent across borders and cultures. Indeed, some aspects may apply more within some country or culture than others (“Africa is not a country”).

The book is divided into two parts: The first, “Investigating Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Africa”, takes a look at the current state of things and makes observations of what progress has been made, existing challenges and opportunities as well as providing specific recommendations that startups, investors and government can use to further technology innovation and entrepreneurship on the continent.

The second part “In Search of a Model for Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems that fits the African Context” takes a close up view of three innovative economies: Silicon Valley, China and Israel, from which we try to glean a few lessons about startup ecosystems that could be applied within the African context in order to come up with a (perhaps hybrid) model that works best for the continent and specific nations within the continent.



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A Potent Heuristic to Figure Out Success Courtesy of Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Skimming my Facebook page while eating pancakes and eggs in my hotel room in Orlando, I came across another one of Nassim Nicholas Taleb‘s pearls of wisdom that he felt compelled to share with the world through his updates. Taleb is best known to the mainstream as author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

While he is far from being engaged with the media and his fans to the point of being a social media advocate (he is not on Twitter, his website is one unformatted page of text with info on his next book and don’t even think about looking him up on LinkedIn or Instagram), Taleb clearly embraces sharing his ideas (usually broad anecdotes to society’s toughest problems) for his Facebook fans to debate.

I was struck by Nassim Taleb’s musings on figuring out your chances of success:

A trivial and potent heuristic to figure out success: a) you are absolutely successful if and only if you don’t envy anyone; b) quite successful if those you envy you don’t know in person; c) miserably unsuccessful if those you envy you encounter or think about daily.

Absolute success is mostly found among ascetic persons.

This isn’t all there is to success, of course. But it’s clear to see that when we take our eye off of our own goals to focus on another person’s success, we undoubtedly, and almost always, fail (and fail miserably). The reason for this is because envy exacerbates or intensifies our own weaknesses and shortcomings. Whatever our weaknesses are compared to another person’s, when we begin to focus on (and envy) another person’s success instead of working on our own shortcomings and goals, we become even weaker. We deny ourselves the opportunity to be great in our own way. And even worse, we begin to believe the lie our inner-demons tell us that we aren’t as good and could never be as good as that person who sits on top of the world because of their success — we believe (and our actions become rooted in) the lie that success is only delegated to a chosen few.

Having said that, we all have shortcomings. Everyone who succeeds has them. As Taleb suggests, one important key in success is to be ascetic (to be in denial — in denial of your weaknesses, in denial of anything the world tells you contrary to you knowing that you will achieve success, in denial of the part of your ego that tells you that you will never be as good as the other person). Entrepreneurs are especially in possession of this success-trait.


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A Movie Every Entrepreneur Should See: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” (VIDEO)

The following synopsis of Jiro Dreams of Sushi is from the official trailer YouTube page:

Jiro Dreams of Sushi Official Trailer #1 – Jiro Ono Documentary (2012) HD
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JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is the story of 85 year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious 3 star Michelin review, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar. For most of his life, Jiro has been mastering the art of making sushi, but even at his age he sees himself still striving for perfection, working from sunrise to well beyond sunset to taste every piece of fish; meticulously train his employees; and carefully mold and finesse the impeccable presentation of each sushi creation. At the heart of this story is Jiro’s relationship with his eldest son Yoshikazu, the worthy heir to Jiro’s legacy, who is unable to live up to his full potential in his father’s shadow. The feature film debut of director David Gelb, JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a thoughtful and elegant meditation on work, family, and the art of perfection, chronicling Jiro’s life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world, and a loving yet complicated father.

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