Exploiting Africa’s creativity for technology advancement

Prof Mike Bruton

  • Duration: 60min
  • Language: English
  • Ages: All Ages
  • Date: October 18, 2021 20:00
  • Recorded: Live session with recording available afterwards
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In his most recent book, ‘Harambee: The Spirit of Innovation in Africa’ (HSRC, October 2021) Mike Bruton argues that the key quality of African innovation is that it is expressed at all three levels, from high- to middle- to low-tech, simultaneously as the needs and wants of its people dictate. High-tech innovations blend seamlessly into mid-tech innovations, while the underbelly of low-tech innovations continues to proliferate. The different levels feed into one another to create a unique mix that generates solutions that solve, or strive to solve, the problems on the continent.

This ‘step ladder’ of innovations also promotes the upskilling of African innovators so that they can eventually become global players even if they have had humble beginnings. African innovation is also characterized by its exuberance and spontaneity, its flouting of the rules, and its homegrown agenda. He also argues that creativity is often sparked in the resource-strapped environments in which many African innovators are forced to work. Mike recounts that most young people in Africa, especially girls, have experienced failure as well as discrimination and inequality during their short lives and learned to cope with it. They have learned that failing often and quickly, and getting up and starting again, is a far more beneficial lesson in life than nearly always succeeding.

Join Mike in a webinar that explores the complexity of Africa’s creativity and examines how this can be exploited for technology advancement. During the talk he will give examples to support his arguments


Mike Bruton was born and educated in South Africa where he obtained his MSc and PhD degrees from Rhodes University; he has also been awarded an honorary doctorate by his alma mater.

After a successful career as an aquatic ecologist, conservationist and ichthyologist Mike embarked on a new career in science communication in the 1990s. He developed the educational programmes of the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town and then established the highly successful MTN ScienceCentre (now the Cape Town Science Centre) that has received over one million visitors. He has also been intimately involved in the establishment of science centres and museums in Johannesburg, Uitenhage and Umhlanga as well as in Bahrain, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

In retirement he occupies himself doing research, writing books and giving talks on his twin interests in biology and innovation and has authored nine popular science books over the past eight years. He has been a regular supporter of Scifest Africa since its inception and recently retired as the chairman of Scifest’s Advisory Committee.