Somali scientist Abdigani Diriye among African Fellows to TEDGlobal 2017 in Arusha, Tanzania

Abdigani Diriye, an IBM scientist,  has been selected among 2017 TED Fellows for his research in mobile-based financial services and for launching a Somalia-based accelerator program for local technology start-ups. He will present his efforts at an upcoming TED Talk in August in Arusha, Tanzania.

Abdigani will be working on financial inclusion, mainly driven by the fact that one of the biggest challenges in Africa is that people don’t have access to financial services, like savings accounts and loans. He wants to develop mobile technologies to help facilitate access to these services for all citizens and also develop digital identities for all citizens to enable them have access to more public and private services. 

(TOP: Abdigani Diriye, the Somali-born scientist and 2017 TED Fellow. Photo: Ground Report).

“My life’s work can be characterized as conducting R&D into innovative technologies that address grand challenges facing Africa, and supporting innovators and entrepreneurs in the continent of Africa and beyond who are creating a positive impact and effecting change,” said Diriye.

Diriye is based at IBM’s research lab in Nairobi, Kenya, which was opened in 2013. He is currently applying Big Data analytics to improve access to financial services for Africans across the continent.

Diriye obtained his PhD in computer science from University College London and has published over 30 patents and papers.

The Kenya lab, combined with IBM’s recently opened lab in Johannesburg, South Africa, are driving innovation by developing commercially-viable solutions based on cognitive computing and cloud platforms to transform lives and spark new business opportunities in key areas including data driven healthcare, digital urban ecosystems, financial inclusion, education and e-government.

Apart from Diriye, the other African Fellows set to present their ideas at TEDGlobal 2017 scheduled for August 27 – 30, in Arusha, Tanzania are:

Mennat El Ghalid (France / Egypt) – An Egyptian microbiologist studying fungal infections in humans, in an effort to discover their causes and develop new treatments and cofounder of ConScience, a nonprofit dedicated to science education.

Robert Hakiza (DRC / Uganda) – An Urban refugee expert and Congolese cofounder of the Young African Refugees for Integral Development (YARID), which empowers refugees and builds community through vocational education, English classes, access to sports and computer literacy skills.

Saran Kaba Jones (Liberia / USA) – A Clean water advocate and Liberian founder and CEO of FACE Africa, which strengthens water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure in rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa through the establishment of community-based WASH Committees and post-implementation support services.

Adong Judith (Uganda) – Ugandan director and playwright creating theater that promotes social change and provokes dialogue on issues from LGBTQ rights to war crimes.

Yasin Kakande (Uganda) – A Investigative journalist and author working undercover in the Middle East to uncover the human-rights abuses of migrant workers.

Katlego Kolanyane-Kesupile (Botswana) – A Writer, educator and founder of the Queer Shorts Showcase Festival, Botswana’s first and only LGBT-themed theatre festival.

Kasiva Mutua (Kenya) – An international touring percussionist working to elevate the place of the African woman in music. Her performance style integrates African traditional music with modern styles such as jazz, hip-hop, reggae and zouk.

Carl Joshua Ncube (Zimbabwe) – A Zimbabwean stand-up comic who uses his creative work to approach culturally taboo topics on the African continent.

Walé Oyéjidé (Nigeria / USA) – Nigerian fashion designer and artist who uses textile and apparel design to convey stories about immigrant populations to the Western world.

Every year, the TED Fellows program opens applications to find a new class of extraordinary thinkers and doers, encouraging innovators over the age of 18 to apply. Interested applicants can visit the TED Fellows program website for more information about the fellowship and to sign up to be alerted when applications for TED2018 open on July 18.

The TED Fellows program brings together young innovators from around the world and across disciplines, who display both outstanding achievement and exemplary character, to raise international awareness of their work and maximize their impact. The program offers Fellows full participation in a TED or TEDGlobal Conference, a two-day pre-conference of workshops and activities, a Fellows Retreat, ongoing professional coaching and mentoring, dedicated PR coaching and active participation in the TED community, including the global TED Fellows network. Founded in 2009, the TED Fellows program now includes 436 Fellows from 94 countries, and was named one of the top 10 Fellowships of 2016.

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