It seems the trend of creating community innovation centers is spreading throughout the continent. West Africa is not left behind. Bantalabs is the new kid on the block from that region joining the fray.
So what is Bantalabs?
In a nutshell, Bantalabs will promote the use and creation of open source software in West-Africa. We will organize and host barcamps and topic specific camps (such as DrupalCamps, MobileWebCamps, CrisisCamps). We will provide training for end users and developers and work with universities to set up formal internship programs.
Much like the Appfrica Labs, iHub and Limbe Labs Ventures intitiatives we want to stimulate technological innovation by providing financial and logistical support to young developers, designers, freelancers and startups. By this time next year we hope to have opened at two open access co-working environments / hackerspaces – one in Dakar and one in Saint Louis.
From the Bantalabs about page
Bantalabs is committed to empowering people and investing in the community. It is our explicit aim to set up (nearly) free open source training projects across Senegal to introduce people to the wealth of free and open source software that is readily available to them.
In nearby Cameroon, Limbe Labs Ventures is holding fort. Limbe Labs describes itself as:
A unique community / collaboration space in Cameroon for startups, freelancers, designers, entrepreneurs (esp. internet entrepreneurs) and independent thinkers. Limbe Labs provides not only a great space to work but also opportunities to interact with other like-minded individuals.
All these are really great indications of the spread of the innovative spirit and startup culture throughout Africa.