Rwanda to host continental innovation summit

An instructor shows students how to go about their exercise during the launch of the inaugural Robotics Camp Rwanda in Kigali. Photo by Sam Ngendahimana.

Rwanda will host this year’s edition of the ‘Innovation Prize for Africa’, an annual Pan-African event.

According to the event’s organisers, this will be the 7th edition of the prestigious Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) and will be aimed at showcasing African ingenuity as well as recognising and connecting African innovators and entrepreneurs.

In a press statement, organisers indicated that they chose Rwanda as the host country due to the country’s commitment to put innovation at the centre of development as well as a strong commitment towards building a knowledge economy and shaping ICT policies that catalyse innovation.

According to the organisers, the Innovation Prize for Africa, an African Innovation Foundation programme, provides USD185,000 to winners who develop African solutions to African challenges.

The event will be hosted on October 11-12 at the Kigali Convention Centre.

The objective of the event is to showcase African creativity as well as recognising and connecting African innovators and entrepreneurs with key innovation ecosystem enablers.

“The two-day event will feature strategic activities aimed at driving investments towards inclusive innovation ecosystems and culminate in an awards ceremony to reward top African innovators,” the statement reads in part.

The Minister for Information Technology and Communications Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa, said that it is a great honour for the country to host the event adding that the Government will maintain efforts to ensure an environment for innovative solutions.

“We are delighted to host the Innovation Prize for Africa 2018. We commend AIF’s work to address the continent’s challenges through innovation. The message being delivered cuts across generations and puts forth mindsets that are passionate about the uplifting of Africa,” he noted, adding that such an event showcases African ingenuity

Previous editions of the Innovation Prize for Africa have been hosted in Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa.

The chairman of the Board of African Innovation Foundation, Walter Fust, said that they are looking forward to partner with Rwandan innovators.

“We are proud to partner with the Government of Rwanda to host IPA 2018 and look forward to collaborating with Rwandan innovators and innovation enablers in their quest to become an innovation-led knowledge economy,” he said, adding that Rwanda’s efforts to support innovation and promote high-tech sectors such as ICTs and life sciences are truly commendable.

Fust also highlighted that they want to look to strengthen African innovation ecosystems through their ongoing collaborative programmes and strategic partnerships to unlock the potential of African innovators.

Currently, AIF has a network of over 9,400 African innovators across 55 countries and over 400 innovation enablers.

They say that they have generated over USD30 million in investments for African innovators and that past winners “have achieved commendable milestones benefiting not only themselves but also their communities.”

Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, AIF Managing Director and IPA Programme Director, said that this year’s summit aims to connect an ever-growing Pan-African network of innovators, enablers and partners with the country’s innovators and enablers.

“We are delighted to showcase the continent’s best and brightest innovators during the 7th edition of IPA to be held in Rwanda. IPA 2018 is a call to African nations to collaborate and invest in building inclusive ecosystems that can drive needs-based innovation and support niche innovative enterprise across all segments of African society. We are confident that this partnership will go a long way in helping to build stronger, more sustainable innovation ecosystems that will propel the continent forward,” she added.

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