June 29, 2016
The 2016 edition of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) held in Gaborone, Botswana last week, was a tribute to the Prize’s incredible five year journey. From seeding the African innovation spirit across the continent to enabling the emergence of African innovation ecosystems through creative and strategic collaborations, the IPA has catapulted the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) to become one of the most respected and credible innovation-led platforms for African innovators.
This year alone, the Prize attracted more than 3, 600 participants from 50 African countries, making the event the one of the most powerful ‘Made in Africa’ demonstrations thus far. We celebrated this milestone by launching SEED, a book that pays homage to the African innovation spirit and that tells the story of how the AIF has grown from tiny seed to become a strong and proud tree with deep roots across the continent and with far reaching branches to support a Pan-African network of innovators and innovation enablers.
We also launched ZuaHub, a platform connecting African innovators to much needed resources in capacity building, knowledge transfer and potentially funding.
At the Awards Ceremony, I renewed my commitment to African innovators that I will continue to support them for yet another 5 years….which does not go to say that it will end there. I shared my vision for the years ahead and how I see innovation becoming more accessible to the masses, because I believe that innovation is for everyone.
Innovation can bridge the gaps between the formal and informal economy. It has the power to drive inclusive growth and equal opportunity for all segments of society. As a continent, we need to take strides to bring innovation to the masses…and that time is now.
I demonstrated how it is possible to bring innovation to the masses by going where the need is, and showed audiences a video of Fábrica de Sabão, which I believe is a model of an innovation ecosystem that is accessible to all segments of society.
Many people thought I was crazy when I embarked on this initiative. But seeing is believing. My vision for the next five years of celebrating and rewarding African innovation lies in this model. It’s my sincere hope that this model be replicated across the continent so that innovation can touch the lives of all Africans.
To the next five years…