The Prime Minister of Rwanda, the Honourable Edouard Ngirente, this morning officially declared the Africa Innovation Summit (AIS) 2018 open in Kigali, Rwanda. AIS II will focus on innovative and disruptive solutions to the major challenges facing African countries, which include energy access, water, food insecurity, health systems, and governance. As a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and actions, AIS II is Africa’s only summit on innovation that seeks to foster action-driven dialogue between African innovators and stakeholders in Government, private sector, civil society and academia to ensure African solutions are concretely given the opportunity to scale in a measurable way. The summit will continue until 8 June 2018.
“The challenge facing Africa is building robust ecosystems of innovation. I am happy that AIS is helping our countries build a culture of innovation as a way of life. It is a critical element of development and economic growth. In Rwanda, we will be launching a research and innovation fund to address the key needs of our country. Resolutions and recommendations from AIS will play a key role,” said Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente.
Simba Mhuriro, an innovator and speaker from Zimbabwe, challenged African governments to support innovators who are tackling Africa’s major challenges. “To our leaders, 20 years from now, how will you explain it to us if most of us innovators are employees instead of entrepreneurs driving Africa’s development forward?” He said. “Local innovations can only be local if the benefits are realised in Africa. Governments have to create regulations that allow financial institutions to fund African innovators at a large scale.”
The summit will create a community of innovators that will not only meet to dialogue on solutions but also create ecosystems that will enable them to share ideologies beyond the summit.
Dr. Olugbenga Adesida, Co-Director of AIS, said “The AIS puts African innovators front and centre. They are the people working daily to identify Africa’s challenges and develop appropriate solutions to create the continent we all want to see in the future. They do this with very little local support. The basic fact is that Africa cannot outsource its development. We aim to change this by not only creating dialogue around the challenges and opportunities our innovators face, but also to foster concrete, multi-stakeholder action to support and scale their businesses. We will all be better off if African innovators are provided with conducive ecosystems to thrive.”
From 600 applications from 44 countries, a selected group of 50 innovators will have a unique opportunity to engage stakeholders in discussing potential solutions to some of the blockages that are preventing solutions from going to scale.
The AIS is an Africa-wide and home grown initiative aimed at harnessing the innovation potential of the continent. It aims to mobilize people with the ‘power to act’, including investors, innovators, policy makers, researchers and academics, the business community, the youth, as well as thought leaders and thinkers into a coalition for collective action to promote and build an enabling environment for innovation in Africa.