One of the fastest growing African-made chocolate has made shares available to the public for investment. Chocolaterie NOHI (Choco NOHI) in short is a Cameroonian company who’s vision is to bring the best of chocolate to Africa by transforming cocoa locally. As the Netflix docuseries Rotten says, “the long journey from [cocoa] bean to [chocolate] bar is packed with misery.” Farmers only get a small portion of the $100B that the chocolate industry represents. A lot of the cost is in the logistic of collecting, inspecting, transporting, warehousing for the western market.
Choco NOHI sees an opportunity here. Hyppolyte Nozawo, founder of Choco NOHI and participant of the TekZone Leadership Development program, says that their main goal is to eliminate most of this cost without compromising quality. His strategy has 2 main pillars:
Work directly with the farmers – Choco NOHI works directly with farmers so the cocoa beans go straight from the tree to the factory. This gives him more control on the quality and gives farmers more for their cocoa beans.
Focus on quality – Hippolyte wants Choco NOHI to provide the same quality chocolate consumers expect. To achieve this, Hippolyte hired Jean-Charles Bergeron, a French Chocolatier with over 40 years of experience.
Choco NOHI already has market presence in Cameroon with 3 product lines and more than 5000 customers and growing. Hippolyte wants to take this product to other countries in Africa and beyond where there is already demand.
Africa is poised to become one of the world’s economic engines over the next 30 years. Our vision is to see Africa and the world transformed by technologies and solutions created by Africans. Our mission is to be a catalyst for this technological transformation by providing a complete ecosystem to acquire knowledge and skills, create solutions to local problems and build successful businesses. We achieve this mission through the following:
TekZone Academy is the premier e-learning platform with project-centered courses.
TekZone Leadership Development Program identifies and equips potential African leaders with the skills and connections to become trail blazers in schools, companies and as entrepreneurs.
TekZone maintains an active network of partners comprised of mentors, sponsors, tech companies and investors.
The TekZone Leadership Development Program is entering its second year in 2021. Participants in the first year achieved tangible results in areas such as communication, presentation, personal finance and business management. One participant, the owner of Chocolaterie NOHI in Douala Cameroon achieved 38% growth during the pandemic thanks to a campaign developed through the program. Here is what he said about these results:
We developed a Social media campaign that reached 1032 people with a 60% conversion rate resulting is 38% growth during the pandemic shutdown period.
While business results such as the one above are example of the outcome of the program, our focus goes beyond business growth. We focus on the whole person, crafting a highly personalized development program that will make each participant a strong leader for Africa. We use a combination of lectures, books, mentorship, hands-on and workshops over a period of 12 to 24 months.
In his own words, here are other skills, abilities and knowledge acquired by Hippolyte during the first 12 months:
I learned personal finance management skills (budget, etc.) which resulted in 17% monthly savings.
I’ve become a reader now reading on average 1 book a month and adding to my knowledge.
Worked with my mentor on the WHY of “ChocoNohi” leading to a clearer strategy and reduced attrition.
Created an advisory board. A member of the board recently introduced me as a young aspiring entrepreneur to the GICAM
I learned so much more that it’s difficult to put in numbers. This includes leadership courses work from the program, from the programs inscription to LinkedIn Learning.
I came across an interesting article on TechCrunch (see last picture below) that I had to share with you. It’s about artificial intelligence and social justice. You might wonder what these 2 have in common. Take a look at the picture below which I took at a conference in 2016. Notice how the algorithm captures 2 faces around me including an invisible face next to my left shoulder BUT IT DOES NOT SEE MY FACE. That day, I did quite a few moves including putting my head right next to my friends heads, but it did not work. The poor demonstrator at the stand just resolved to say “go talk to the Python people. We are only using their code.”
Why make such a big deal of facial recognition anyway?
As you have probably heard, artificial intelligence is getting into everything including our phones, TVs, cars, planes, factories, etc. What this means is that a car that normally recognizes pedestrians might have a harder time recognizing me because I am black and it may result in me being hit. A firefighting robot designed to save people from fire may save all my white friends but leave me to burn because it could not recognize me. While these examples might seem extreme, note that Tesla cars already incorporate autopilots based on this technology.
So why is it so hard to recognize black people?
To understand this, you have to understand the basic principle behind how artificial intelligence works. Essentially, AI is a program that’s written to learn from its environment and use that information to make inference. For example, AI code that is “trained” with a majority of white faces will have a hard time detecting black people faces. The same goes for everything else. For this reason, the data foundation being built as the foundation for tomorrow’s world where planes, cars and other things operate autonomously is being created with less representation from the black community.
What can we do about it?
Get involved. Learn about machine learning and AI then start building your own models bases on our realities in Africa. Let’s not be caught sleeping again. Let’s wake up now and create our own path with this next revolution. Most of the learning is free and accessible. If you have not done anything in this area, start with our free Python course at TekZone Academy: http://tek.zone/academy/.
With the surge of social media platform, sentiment analysis has really gained in popularity with businesses. Imagine for example being able to comb through comments on a product page, a Facebook page or a YouTube video and understanding if the comments are positive, neutral or negative. Imagine being able to identify within the comments which aspects people view as positive or negative. Equipped with this information, businesses can make improvement. Pre-Natural Text Analysis with machine learning, this would have hours of reading and categorizing by people. Now, a computer program can quickly comb through the text and within a few minutes, output the result. That’s the true power behind sentiment analysis.
How does Python do sentiment analysis?
We have released a series of Python courses to help young people pick up this much needed skill. If you have completed our Python 101, that’s enough skill to do what we are about to show you here. Don’t be intimidated. But first, let’s understand how sentiment analysis works.
For this code, we will use the TextBlob Python module. You can learn about this module here: https://textblob.readthedocs.io/en/dev/index.html. This module has abstracted a lot of the hard work so you can do sentiment analysis with just a couple lines of code. For sentiment, this module outputs 2 values:
Polarity: this is a number between -1.0 and 1.0 which indicates on a scale whether the text expresses a negative sentiment (negative number) or a positive sentiment (positive number). The closer the number is to -1.0 or 1.0, the more negative or positive the text is respectively.
Subjectivity: this is a number between 0.0 and 1.0 where 0.0 is very objective (facts) and 1.0 is very subjective (opinion)
Write your first sentiment analysis in Python
Your ready? Here is the code:
from textblob import TextBlob
text = "I have been taking some Python courses at TekZone Academy and I really like it"
blob = TextBlob(text)
#output should give you something like: "Sentiment(polarity=0.2, subjectivity=0.2)"
If you get some errors, just make sure the textblob module is installed. You can easily do this by typing the command “pip3 install textblob” or “pip install textblob.” That’s it. You can play around with various text and see how the output changes. You can explore more functionality of the TextBlob by reading the page provided above.
Now you can start analysis emails and text from your friends. In a future post, we will look at how to use another nice plugin to automatically grab text from web pages. Those two modules combined can be quite powerful.
After nearly a year in the TekZone Leadership Development Program, Nervis Nzometia won 1st place and took home the 10 million Fcfa prize money with his project E-Waste 3D Printer. Built with repurposed material such as DVD player motors, plywood and other recycled electronics components, the 3D printer uses the same type of filaments used by other commercial 3D printers. On the software side, Nervis leverages open source architecture making the device robust while maintaining costs low.
Originally designed and built as the project for his final year of engineering school, this device is an ideal candidate for Cameroon’s newly established ICT Innovation Week (ICT stands for Information and Communications Technology). This innovation-driven competition is organized annually since 2019 by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MINPOSTEL) of Cameroon to boost the development of ICT-driven business projects initiated by youths. 2020’s edition of the ICT Innovation Week Had as theme of focus, “Young Cameroonians amidst the challenges of ICT Innovation in a context of health crisis”. The competition aims at providing long-term support for the emergence of a mature and sound digital ecosystem in Cameroon.
This win is a major victory for Nervis who faced multiple odds. With his mother as the sole provider having suffered hardship due to unrest in the region, Nervis had very limited access to the resources. Despite this challenging situation, Nervis persevered not only to bring this device to life, but also by contributing to his community. One of his main goals is to introduce as many kids as he can to robotics.
This article has an English translation appended below
La population de Douala aura bientôt accès à une formation en robotique particulière délivrée par la startup Master of Art 64 ou MA64. Ulrich Emabou, l’un des fondateurs de MA64 nous fait savoir que startup a pour objectif premier de “conquérir le marché du numérique et d’en être les leaders en Afrique” dans le domaine de la formation et la maîtrise. Pour ce faire, la startup utilise une méthode d’apprentissage mixte combinant la théorie et la pratique pour accomplir des tâches très précises. La vidéo ci-dessous montre un exemple à travers un drone pouvant naviguer de manière autonome son environnement et accomplir des tâches.
Drone Autonome controlle par l’intelligence artificielle
Les expériences de Ulrich dans sa formation académiques et les diverses stages académiques ont exposé les limites du système éducatif au Cameroun principalement dans le domaine du numérique. Comme il l’explique ci-dessous, beaucoup d’ingénieurs sont réduits aux tâches généralement réservées à des techniciens non-ingénieurs dans d’autres pays. Avec des formations en majorité théoriques et pas adaptées aux attentes de l’industrie, la plupart des entreprises préfèrent porter leur confiance aux ingénieurs d’ailleurs. Face a cette situation, Ulrich s’est lancé en autodidacte et a acquis en 3 mois les connaissances équivalentes a 2 ans d’études dans son établissement local. C’est pour cette raison qu’il s’est associé à d’autre jeunes enthousiastes tels que le fondateur de LabRED pour lancer le project MA64.
“Au niveau 4 j’ai eu à effectuer un stage ou je me rendais alors pour apprendre l’automatique dans une sociétée d’ascenseurs. Je me suis rendu compte qu’en fait rien n’est fabriqué mais que tout le dispositif était importé. Le personnel travaillant dans cet entreprise n’avait aucune orientation dans le design comme je m’attendais. Ils se contentaient de manœuvrer lors du montage. Au niveau 5, j’étais dans une autre entreprise qui était meilleure mais nous manquions cruellement de savoir pratique à l’école. C’est la que j’ai compris que les diplômes de l’ecole doivent être supplémentées par des connaissances pratiques que chaque personne peut acquérir en accéléré. C’est pour cette raison que nous nous sommes lancé dans la formation.“
Depuis son lancement, MA64 a déjà déployé 2 modules très pratiques axés sur la modélisation et la programmation. Utilisant la plateforme TekZone Academy et les outils disponible en location sur place tels que des kits EV3 de LEGO, MA64 est capable de déployer ces cours à des prix très abordables pour la population locale. Les deux vidéos ci-dessous sont des extraits du cours. La première est une vidéo directement délivrée dans le cours a travers la plateforme TekZone Academy et la deuxième est une interrogation en direct à travers une vidéo conférence.
Extrait du coursExtrait d’une interro en live
Cette initiative de MA64 est à saluer et rentre en ligne avec notre vision a TekZone de faciliter l’accès à la technologie avec pour objectif de résoudre les problèmes locaux localement. Tu peux bénéficier de cette formation en contactant M464 au +237 673 66 49 48 our par email a firstname.lastname@example.org.
The population of Douala will soon have access to special robotics training delivered by the startup Master of Art 64 or MA64. Ulrich Emabou, one of the founders of MA64, lets us know that the startup’s primary objective is to “conquer the digital market and be the leaders in Africa” in the field of training and mastery. To do this, the startup uses a blended learning method combining theory and practice to accomplish very specific tasks. The video below shows an example through a drone that can autonomously navigate its environment and accomplish tasks.
Ulrich’s experiences in his academic training and the various academic internships exposed the limits of the education system in Cameroon mainly in the digital field. As he explains below, many engineers are reduced to tasks typically reserved for non-engineer technicians in other countries. With training mainly theoretical and not adapted to the expectations of the industry, most companies prefer to put their trust in engineers elsewhere. Faced with this situation, Ulrich embarked on the autodidact where he acquired in 3 months the knowledge equivalent to 2 years of studies in his local establishment. It is for this reason that he joined forces with other young enthusiasts such as the founder of LabRED to launch the MA64 project.
At level 4 I had to do an internship where I would then go to learn automatic control in a company of elevators. I realized that in fact nothing is manufactured but that the whole device was imported. The staff working in this company had no orientation in design as I expected. They were content to maneuver during assembly. At level 5, I was in another company which was better but we were sorely lacking in practical knowledge at school. It was there that I understood that the school’s diplomas must be supplemented by practical knowledge that each person can acquire quickly. It is for this reason that we embarked on training.
Since its launch, MA64 has already deployed 2 very practical modules focused on modeling and programming. Using the TekZone Academy platform and locally available rental tools such as EV3 kits from LEGO, MA64 is able to deploy these courses at very affordable prices for the local population. The two videos below are excerpts from the course. The first is a video delivered directly in the course through the TekZone Academy platform and the second is a live questioning through a video conference.
This initiative of MA64 is to be welcomed and is in line with our vision at TekZone to facilitate access to technology with the aim of solving local problems locally. You can benefit from this training by contacting M464 at +237 673 66 49 48 or by email at email@example.com.
Close your eyes and think of the word “school.” You are probably imagining classrooms, buildings, or maybe students seating in class. Is that right? In case you’re wondering how I guessed right, I am not a magician. In fact, if you search Google for the term School, you see something similar. I have appended the result of my search below for reference. In fact, schools have looked this way since it was created more than 150 years ago.
Google Image search result for the term “school”
The reality is that while the world has been through several revolutions, education remained mostly unchanged. Education has been consistently built on a series of time blocks (years, semesters or trimesters, months, weeks, days) during which groups of students are provided the same instructional material for part of the day. Like products on a factory line, each learner acquires knowledge in the same way at the same pace with the hope to become a productive member of society. The system is built for efficiency. This mode of education is built on the belief that everyone learns the same way and at the same pace and during the same time of the day. We know that this is not true.
In recent years, the growth of Internet usage has provided an alternative in the form of eLearning. With eLearning, the content can be delivered through multiple formats including video, audio, and text. Additionally, eLearning allows the content to be asynchronous so students can follow different sections at a different pace. In fact, it gives the opportunity to completely move away from the factory-style learning to more competency-style learning. We have seen a growth in the adoption of eLearning in recent years (see the chart below). However, the use of eLearning skyrocketed when COVID-19 put the breaks on the traditional school model in the Spring of 2020. To keep education going, many countries tried various means. Some used Radio to broadcast lectures. Other countries such as Cameroon even use televised shows to continue to deliver lessons to students. A good number of institutions however tried eLearning for the first time.
Google Trends for the term “elearning”
This mass-taste of eLearning is the beginning of a new era for education. Schools will never operate the same way again. Why do I say that? For one, it offers institutions the ability to increase their profit:
Increased School Capacity: by leveraging the Internet, institutions can reduce the number of courses that require a physical presence on the campus thus increasing the number of students they can admit.
Larger Addressable Market: in today’s schools systems, most learners are required to commute to a physical building. For this reasons, most institutions can only be attended by people who are close by. With an online school, they can reach anyone anywhere with Internet. This increases their market reach.
It also gives parents quite a few benefits including:
Reduced Spending: parents will reduce their spending on items such as transportation and school clothing.
Increased Flexibility: with school being online, learners can take the course from anywhere thus freeing parents up to take vacation and travel with their kids during times other than Spring Break or Summer Vacation. Obviously, this will depend on how the online school is implemented. It is possible though to create asynchronous learning which gives the students this flexibility.
For the students, there are benfits as well:
Personalized Learning: students will have more flexibility on how they learn. They can use a multitude of formats such as videos, audio, text, discussion, zoom meetings, etc. They will aso have flexibility on when they learn. Some might prefer early morning while others prefer late night. They will no longer be constraints to a specific time period in a specific location.
Proficiency-based Learning: online content allows institutions to build programs based on proficiency. In such a system, students learn to become proficient in a specific topic, then move to the next. The pace of learning is adapted to each student’s ability. In this type of system, fast learners can move quicker while slower learners are no longer forced to keep up. They can slow down for the topics they have the challenge to make sure they become proficient. These are some of the reasons, I believe that we are at the start of a transformation of our education systems.
Imagine the following: you wake up at 5:30AM for your morning run. As you run, you put on your headphone and listen to a chapter of the book on success by “Jack Canfield.” Once you return and shower, you pickup your phone, log into your virtual classroom and record a video of you giving a summary of what you just learned. While the AI bot analyses your video submission, you go grab a breakfast. Right after breakfast, you get message from the AI telling you that you did well on your summary and the next module is now unlocked. You open the next module and it’s a timed-quiz to validate that you have acquired the knowledge. You start the quiz, hold your phone up while the AI scans your face, then you start answering the questions it asks you. Once you’re done, the AI gives you a B+ score and marks that competency done. For the next competency, the AI tells you that you will need to build a team of students nearby to work with. It gives you a few people who are at the same level and also needing to form a team for you to pick from. You’re not ready to start so you shut it down to pick it up later.
This might sound futuristic, but it’s not that far from what’s possible today. At TekZone, we have built courses such as our Python for Beginners course that allow the student to learn at their own pace regardless of where they are, take quizzes to confirm what they’ve learned and unlock more modules as they go. They can do this from the comfort of their home or on the go, from their PC or their phone. They can even download it to their phones and do it without Internet connection. The only missing piece is the AI component but it’s not too far.
Like any change, it’s uncomfortable. We are used to our factory-style system. it’s predictable and safe. But that’s precisely why it’s no longer right for today and tomorrow’s world where we being social means using Facebook, Tik Tok or Twitter, and where technology is changing what we do and the way we work. A school system created 150 years ago is no longer right for a world with AI.
So what should you do? Educate yourself. If you have not yet, try to leverage online learning. You can do so from TekZone Academy or from any other platform such as Udemy or Udacity. If you have kids, introduce them to platforms such as Khan Academy or ABS Mouse. Soon, those will be the norm.
We started TekZone Academy to deliver rich content to young Africans in urban and rural areas. But we are also aware that the Internet is not always available. When it is, it might not be as reliable. To help with this challenge, we have designed TekZone Academy so that you can connect, download your courses to your phone or tablet, then go through the course offline including taking the quizzes. The next time you connect to the Internet, it will synchronize with your account.
To get started with your mobile app, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Install the Moodle app from the play store. See the screenshot below.
Step 2: Connect the app to TekZone Academy. When you open the app, it will ask you for the URL to the web site. put it www.tek.zone/academy
Step 3: Login to the App. When the app connects successfully to the TekZone Academy platform, you’ll see the logo and name appear. You will also be prompted to login. Put in your username and password and click “Log In”
Step 4: You’re all done. If you followed these steps, you should now be logged in to the app (see image below). You will only be asked to login this once. The next time you launch the app, it will directly open in your dashboard.
Watch the video below to see how easy it is to interact with the application.
Hello TekZone Community. In 2015 we launched a Robotics Course designed to expose young Africans to robotics. This course covers topics such as sensors, actuators, and controls algorithms. To make this course accessible to all, we partnered with National Instruments to leverage LabVIEW Home edition which is a version of LabVIEW designed to work with Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Beaglebone Black. This was ideal because LabVIEW is graphical and easier for newbies to pick up. They could focus on building their robots rather than learning text-based programming. You can see some pictures from that class below.
Unfortunately, LabVIEW Home edition was discontinued by National Instruments. The change eliminated this option for many. It seems that we were not the only people needing this because National Instrument just announced the introduction of a new NI LabVIEW Community Edition which does the same thing and is completely free. See the official launch video below.
TekZone Robotics Course will return
We will revamp the Introduction to Robotics course using this new Community edition and make it available to the public. Stay tuned.
The Machine Learning course offered by Standford through Coursera is a great way to start. It provides details behind the Machine Learning concepts and provide everything needed to practice it. The course goes through the math behind AI and ML. You can access it for Free here: https://www.coursera.org/learn/machine-learning . Millions of people already have.
The Machine Learning Guide podcast is a great one for a newbie. While it covers some of the technical details of ML, the main objective of this podcast is to cover the forest that is ML. It covers they why behind each concept including when it should be used and why. You can access it for free a the following link or on your favorite podcast app. http://ocdevel.com/mlg
The Emerj AI in Industry podcast helps connect typical industry challenges with corresponding AI fields. I recommend it whether you’re starting or are deep into your AI journey. https://emerj.com/
The book Machines of Loving Grace presents a very good history of AI from the early 1900s to the recent boom in this field. It helps understand current trends. I highly recommend it.