This year’s African Innovation Week, formally launched on Thursday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, envisages creating a platform where young innovators and venture capitalists meet.
“There is a missing link in which investors can be encouraged to support young innovators,” said former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, speaking at the formal launch of the event.
“African Innovation Week is one of the most significant undertakings in Africa where 70 percent of the population is less than 30 years of age,” said Desalegn, also the patron of Independent Business Accelerator, a co-organizer of the event.
“Innovative minds of our youth should be nurtured,” he said adding that the continent boasts “brilliant minds”.
Responding to a question by Anadolu Agency as to why the African investors keep shying away from supporting young entrepreneurs and innovators, Desalegn said the problem was not the readiness of investors but the absence of the right policy framework.
Africa’s innovators and brilliant minds were going away in the continued “brain drain” through scholarships, he added.
“Innovation has taken a prominent place in agenda 2063 [the continent’s 50-year socio-economic development blueprint],” Rosette Nyirinkindi Katungye, an adviser on regional integration to the African Union Commission, said on the occasion.
“Innovation is a tool by which continent can empower different segments of society,” she said adding that Africa should change the image of being global leader in abandoned human and natural resources.
She also said that the continent was beginning to register improvements in human development and “the gender gap is narrowing down”.
Egil Thorsas, the deputy head of Norwegian mission, said his country “plans to share digital knowledge with partner countries”.
Norway is a major supporter to Africa’s Center of Innovation.
African Innovation Week 2019 is to be celebrated continent-wide on Oct. 28-Nov. 2, and envisages drawing up 4,000+ attendees, 150+ startups and innovators as well as 75+ speakers and panelists.