Every year during Festival Eritrea, as a matter of curiosity, I go to the Expo compound to observe the development of the innovation corner that is displayed for the public. The purpose of my visit there is not only to observe but to also see the progress innovators have registered.
In doing so, over the past four years, or so, I witnessed many young people exhibiting various innovative materials at the G3 Expo Hall. Indeed, every year different innovation items are displayed and, consequently, one wonders what actually happened to the items displayed in previous years.
Certainly, the need and importance of innovation lies in its ability to initiate new ideas leading to the creation of a new product, process or service. It is not solely the innovation of a new idea that is important; but it is actually a question of bringing it to the market, introducing the public service and ensuring its contribution to the economic and social development of the given society. In other words, the new product, be it technology or service, should add value and input into the advancement of the economic and social growth of the society.
Innovation is a process of creating with a potential impact of improving the livelihood of a society. Innovation could be viewed as an application of a better solution to the needs of the society. That could be in the form of a product, services and a better solution existing challenges.
Innovators formulate ideas and produce items not only out of curiosity but also became their creations are motivated by their perception of the needs of a society. They try to resolve society’s challenges and meet its basic needs. Challenges are the main factors of creativity, hence, innovators have the ability of facing these challenges and come out with solutions. They are keen observers and through trial and error they create new solutions to a problem.
Some innovators also contemplate that, “Many products come to this country with a high cost of foreign currency. So, why not introduce some creative work to save on the foreign currency spent on import”. This noble idea is an important source of innovation.
This is the idea behind different events, such as at the Sawa Youth Festival and the National Festival, where young people display their products to the public. The creations vary from one another but what is common among them is that they are all needs of the society. This year, at the Eritrea Festival 2016, a variety of innovative products were displayed with the sole aim of solving and modernizing the society’s needs.
The cable transportation system, the drone, the networking system and other products displayed at the innovators’ pavilion were highly and I, myself, found the unique compared to the innovative works displayed previously. What makes them unique was that these items mentioned earlier, are projects produced by students of the Eritrean Institute of Technology as part of their graduation’s final thesis. The projects, in their own words, are “viable but they need some investment to develop and use them for public services purposes.”
Mr. Tesfaldet Mehari, Mr. Yoel Habteab, Ms. Venus Gebretensae and others stood out with their innovative work of a drone as they call it “Tricopter based Surveillance System”. They are all final year students from the EIT’s Electrical Engineering Department. The Drone is loaded with audio and video system and it purpose is to gather information from a high altitude through a remote control. The Drone, if developed to its full capacity, could be of use to institutions engaged in agricultural activities, media, weather forecast and natural disaster preventions.
The cable way system was introduced by the Italian colonizers way back in the 1890s linking Asmara to Massawa. The need for the construction of the cable way system was that, Asmara, about 2400 m from the sea level, was situated on the edge of the highlands and very difficult to climb and descend from Massawa. That spurred the construction of the cableway. The cable way more than doubled the commercial traffic between the sea and the interior, and in conjunction with the railway, accounted for almost the entire traffic. Unfortunately, that cableway was dismantled by the British and transported to its other colonies.
And now three students from the EIT came to display their innovative cableway. The project is, with the necessary investment and development ready for public service. I would compare it with Eritrean railway that was destroyed during the armed struggle for independence, was later made operational by the Eritreans that worked there at that time. The cable way could be revived if these young talents get an opportunity resources.
The other important item that I observed at the Expo innovation pavilion was the product displayed by Yonas Hadera (Wedi-Hadera). His product is a thresher. The thresher is not confined to display at the Expo compound but it also developed and in use in different agricultural sites. According to Yonas Hadera different institutions and individuals engaged in agricultural activities are using his machine for harvesting their crops.
The thresher is not the only innovative work of Mr. Yonas Hadera, he displayed different works of innovation in previous festivals. All his innovations are related to agricultural materials.
All the innovation works that were displayed at the Expo grounds might seem small. But they carry a big message and promising prospects. They need encouragement and follow up for their development so they can contribute to the nation building process.