On May 24, 2022, the recently launched Boris Bison Youth Empowerment Business Incubator in Douala, Cameroon, the Pan-African video game publishing company Ludique Works and Start North, the Finnish technology learning accelerator network, have announced mutual memoranda of understanding to introduce their technologically advanced learning environments, the ‘5G Mokki Tech Spaces’, across the African continent.
The new partnership comes just weeks after Boris Bison Youth Empowerment Business Incubator’s opening ceremony in Douala, where Cameroon’s Minister for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Social Economy, and Handicrafts Mr. H.E. Bassilekin III Achille offered Mr. Boris Ngala, the incubator’s Founder and CEO, his congratulations and personal support.
Having spent seven years abroad, Boris Ngala returned to his home country of Cameroon with a vision to reduce poverty through technology-driven solutions, entrepreneurial training, and business advice. Boris Bison Youth Empowerment Business Incubator (‘BB Incubator’ for short) provides office facilities, computer equipment services, internet connectivity, entrepreneurial training, and business advisory services to promising local startup companies and young entrepreneurs.
BB Incubator is the first of its kind in Africa to adopt the 5G Mokki Tech Spaces, a high-tech learning and communication environment in the shape of a small cottage. Mr. Ngala is also a Co-Founder of the 5G Mokki Tech Space network. “Our aim is a Pan-African tech space network that connects the African continent to Europe and the rest of the world, promoting the learning and adoption of technology, remote work, and entrepreneurship. In addition to promoting education, jobs, and the economic development of the regions, the network also aims to curb climate change by utilizing the latest technology.”
Mr. Boris Ngala, Founder, and CEO of BB Incubator and one of the Co-Founders of the 5G Mokki Tech Space network. ‘Mokki’ is derived from the Finnish word ‘mökki’, meaning ‘cottage’. The cottage enables innovative uses of fifth-generation (5G) mobile communication technology. In the case of the incubator and its startups, it can be used, among other things, to develop software applications that require ultra-fast internet connections, to render immersive, three-dimensional (3D), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) learning experiences, as well as to deliver innovative services and remote work to corporations around the globe.
Compared to the technology standards preceding it, fifth-generation wireless communication technology will enable data connections that are a hundred times faster on mobile devices and ten times faster than the fastest fixed broadband services currently. Its true potential lies in enabling entirely new categories of applications. Think remote control of drones, self-driving cars, and complex industrial processes. Think remote surgery. Think remote work and meetings in virtual or augmented reality. Think remote learning. The operative word is “remote”.
Ludique Works is deploying the cottages in Kenya and South Africa and is committed to building a network of 5G Mokki Tech Spaces in other African countries as well. “The 5G Mokki Tech Space network can serve international and local companies, provide creative-economy and technology-based jobs, and promote entrepreneurship based on the learning of the latest technology and hands-on projects that serve local conditions. Furthermore, this is supported by an extensive national and international collaboration with universities and companies.”
With its natural resources, young population, and growing markets, Africa has the potential to become a productivity powerhouse. Given Europe’s and Africa’s overlapping timezones, European corporations could find access to technologically skilled labor and services from Africa via high-touch, 5G-enabled remote connections in real-time. The 5G Mokki Tech Spaces aim to hit several birds with one stone: to provide the technology that enables advanced learning environments with remote connectivity, as well as to offer learning solution content, starting in the fields of technology and entrepreneurship.
The 5G Mokki Tech Spaces are being developed by Start North, a Finnish accelerator network that aims to promote the learning and application of new technologies to meet the challenges of global sustainable development. The concept was pioneered by leading Finnish universities. One of those is Aalto University, which is among the world’s top institutions in research and education of 5G technologies. As part of a co-innovation process with Nokia, the mobile communications technology giant, Aalto launched its Summer School in 2019 to involve students in creating real-life 5G applications. The Summer School produced the 5G Mökki with input from Start North, who was subsequently tasked to take the concept abroad.
As part of a collaboration program between Start North and Ludique Works in Africa, over 250 young people from across the continent applied for the 5G Summer School. More than 60 participants completed the program with a number of them earning ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits. Aalto is in talks with several business schools and universities in Africa, including the African School of Economics with campuses in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin, and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. Furthermore, a project is underway to set up a 5G Mokki in a rural area in Zambia, powered by solar energy, to provide immersive learning and research in the field of agriculture.
At the launch event of the 5G Mökki network at Häme University in Finland, in October 2021, Dr. Mark Nelson, founder and Director of Innovation at the Stanford Peace Innovation Lab, drew parallels between the high-tech cottage, the invention of the microscope in biology and the telescope in space research, allowing the exploration of social interaction and society without people having to travel from one place to another. Without innovative approaches to training and job creation, traditional degree-based education falls short of creating sufficient employment opportunities. To illustrate this point, approximately half a million students graduate from Cameroon’s universities every year, but only some three thousand of these graduates tend to find employment. Cameroon is no exception in Africa.
The expansion of the 5G Mokki Tech Spaces network in Africa is in part facilitated by financial instruments developed jointly by the African Union and the European Union, aimed at improving connectivity, know-how, and sustainable social and economic development. The 5G Mokki Tech Spaces network provides an opportunity for international corporations to tap into highly skilled, young African talent, not only to render remote work but also to spur innovation. Companies can, for example, submit a technology challenge to one of the 5G Mökki Summer Schools, or assign a fully-fledged development project. Some of the best-known companies that have benefited from participating in previous 5G Summer Schools include Enel S.p.A, H&M AB, Konecranes Oyj, Nokia Oyj, Metso Outotec Oyj, and Philips N.V.
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