Emerging technologies, enhancing innovations

BE BLOCkY, Nathan's digital game

Description: Nathan Damtew is a 4th year Computer Science Student at Addis Ababa University College of Natural Science. He is among the young innovators that are emerging in Ethiopia and involved in developing apps, robotics and other technologies that are useful to ease the lives of the people. 

Nathan is an innovator of ‘BE BLOCkY’, an application digital game, that he said is the first in Ethiopia. According to him, the application is a gamified application that is designed to teach children on the basics of computer science in fun and interactive way. Nathan, as a kid had an interest for maths and physics besides spending some time on playing with computer and electronics games which later helped him to develop his programming skills. After he joined campus he was not novice to computer programming and other related courses as it was given in their school early on grade 11. “I was lucky to practice these things early on school. When I joined campus, it was easy for me to practice and apply them.” The concept for developing the application came to his mind when he realized that kids love to play with cellular phones. And if they are introduced to such an exposure, they can be active in programming skills and later help them to be good at exploring their mind and become more creative in their future carrier. “Little kids always show greater interest for mobile phones games. And instead of the game, I thought this application could help them develop new ways of thinking and advances their programming creativity as the application I innovated presents code concepts in puzzle like blocks designed in an attractive manner to children. " Nathan further believes that the application will also enable children to creatively stack together programming components, such as action, events and operations without any problem about programming syntax. He used different software, mobile applications, android studio programs, animation and character building software and augmented reality and a Google software called AR core which is essential to build blocky bolts. As he stated, it took him nearly nine months to develop the the application. Nathan believes that the application would help children to learn different soft skills such as creativity, problem solving skills and other similar skills. Ethiopia has been adopting and implementing various policies and strategies such as Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy among others aiming at alleviating poverty and joining middle level income countries as expressed in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II). To this effect, various activities are underway by the Ministry of Science Technologies and other government and non government institutes working in the area. The nation is also focusing on adapting and utilizing appropriate effective foreign technologies as well as encouraging more students to practice emerging and artificial intelligence technologies. Ethiopian Bio Technology Institute (EBTI) is among the national institutes that work to address the establishment of national innovation system through conducting research, studies, providing trainings and incentives in various fields like agriculture, health, industrial and environmental, bio informative and genetic bio-technologies as well as emerging technologies such as Nano technology, Material science, reverse engineering and so on. 
According to Wondosen Mamo Material Science Directorate Director in the Emerging Technology Center at the EBTI, emerging technology can be defined as a new technology that is currently being developed, or will be developed within the next five to ten years. Emerging technology includes information technology, wireless data communications, man-machine communications, on demand printing, bio technologies and advanced robotics.
Emerging technology means coming up with solutions that are more affordable and more durable that require less use of consumables while still being economically viable, he further explained. 
“On the technology sector the country has seen more vibrant activities in the areas of technological innovations particularly in universities and colleges where major activities like short training and robotic competitions are seen more frequently that any other times. However, there is a wide lack of awareness in schools and society about emerging technologies, he said. 
Recently the Institute has delivered training and raised an awareness program to above 2000 public and private secondary school students on bio and emerging technologies and their irreplaceable value to country's ongoing development. 
Furthermore, he said “Technology innovation can be a great enabler for development in low and middle income countries and can also be used as a tool to fight against poverty and enable sustainable development.” 
The awareness creation training was organized to raise students' awareness towards towards emerging technologies and their contribution in improving the lives of the society through capacitating and recruiting potential students.” 
Emerging technologies and artificial intelligence, according to the Director, are now widely practiced in Ethiopia. And students are now engaged more on practicing artificial and other emerging technologies at school and universities.
“It is not uncommon to notice kids potential in embracing technology more than adults. Kids should be nurtured from their early ages with courses that would help them take part on emerging technologies such as programming, coding and other software skills with supportive courses.” he added.






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