Harnessing cutting-edge digital solutions to chronic challenges in the Niger Delta
Together with the Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation, SDN coordinates and supports the Ken Saro-Wiwa Innovation Hub, maintaining a space and facilities in a large building in Port Harcourt City for digital and tech-based start-ups and talented individuals can be supported to create themselves a livelihood in the Niger Delta, an area with very high rates of unemployment.
On the 4th December, the Innovation Hub participated in a 3-day augmented Imisi3D reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) ‘hackathon’ event happening simultaneously in similar hubs across 10 African countries: Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Egypt, Kenya, Cameroon, Tunisia, Ghana, Rwanda, and Senegal. 3 teams, each with 5 members, participated from the Innovation Hub in Port Harcourt.
Over the 3 days, each team worked to create an AR/VR-based solution to real-life Health, Education, Environment, Gaming, or Tourism challenges in their locations. The Hackathon was an opportunity to showcase African innovation in AR/VR technology.
The three teams competing from the Innovation Hub scored gold, silver, and bronze for Nigeria, demonstrating the strength of cutting-edge digital skills in Port Harcourt. The teams and projects were:
Team Unlimited: created EduAR, an AR-based educational app. “most schools in Nigeria have no learning aid, no practical equipment. Imagine learning about the human heart on the board without seeing it, or learning about geography without knowing how spherical the earth is”. Using augmented reality means that one piece of hardware is needed to create learning aids for a range of lessons. The app uses the unity engine and vuforia.
Team Sharknation: Created Animal FunHouse, a VR-based app combining fun with education. The app educates users about animals, including extinct species, in a fun and interactive way. Animal FunHouse would incorporate question sessions to help learners test their new knowledge. The app also emphasises “conservation and environmental awareness as animals would be have an app bar on top of them: green for abundant, yellow for threatened and red for extinct”. This app has also been built to be as accessible as possible, to reach students having to stay away from school due to Covid19 lockdown measures. It runs on any android mobile device, requiring only the simple paper Google Cardboard VR headset. The app is built with Unity3d, C# language and Google Cardboard Sdk.
Team Deviance: Created a VR-based app that gamifies learning about how to stay safe during the Covid19 pandemic, aimed at both children and adults. “The maze environment is the lockdown and the player has to exit the lockdown, but, there’s an issue, the player has to ensure social distancing from other persons (red capsules) and also avoid the virus by avoiding random touch with unclean surfaces. To ensure the player is safe while trying to exit he/she must take some water ball (washing hands) while still looking for a way out. When attacked by any of these, the player’s life is depleted and… difficulty in breathing evident in coughing”. The app was developed using the Unity3D engine, and Blender was used for its development with the Oculus Integration SDK.
The judging panel for contestants was made up of representatives from Imisi3D, World Bank Innovation Lab, Ask Toks, and the Innovation Hub itself. With investment in digital livelihood support and connectivity infrastructure in Port Harcourt, and the Niger Delta more widely, the potential for new innovation and opportunities for livelihoods is great. The Innovation Hub is currently inviting interest from new investors/supporters, please get in touch with any questions.