Pauline Mujawamariya: The Changing Face of African Innovation

By Pauline Mujawamariya, Director, Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), African Innovation Foundation

Africa has great resources and untapped potential, however, the lack of funding acts as a significant barrier to entrepreneurship and innovation. In order to fully utilise our resources, we need meaningful investments to provide inclusive prosperity on the continent. The Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) 2015 is an annual competition founded by the Africa Innovation Foundation (AIF) that encourages innovators to come up with ground breaking solutions that further promotes Africa’s economic growth.

Africa is on the rise with more than half of the world’s fastest growing economies from Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Zambia. Africa is now emerging as one of the world’s premier destinations for cutting-edge innovation and inspiring entrepreneurship. Awards like the IPA prompt conversation around innovation in Africa. It also helps to highlight talent, provide a platform to attract funding for start-ups and the adoption of new and emerging technologies.

According to a report from the World Economic Forum, Africa faces 28% of the global disease burden but only has 3% of the world’s healthcare workforce. This is a major concern for the growth and progress of the continent. IPA finalist, Joshua Okello from Uganda saw a need and created an innovative product that would ease the struggles of midwives and mothers to be. He created Winsenga, a low cost smart phone-based tool that enables untrained midwives in rural areas in Africa to effectively and accurately monitor the health of an unborn child during antenatal care and labour. The IPA gave his product much needed visibility and has helped create more awareness about the need for innovators to focus on real challenges faced by their communities.

The continent has made a considerable amount of progress over the past few years and it is important that African countries continue to learn from one another. The IPA provides a platform for this sort of knowledge sharing and it encourages entries in key categories that are critical to Africa; Agriculture and Agribusiness, Environment, Energy and Water, Health and Wellbeing, ICT applications, and Manufacturing and Services Industries. Open to all Africans globally, the Innovation Prize for Africa invests in transformative ideas, innovations and business models across sectors that are constantly evolving and improving the lives of many Africans.

Imperative to building a better future are Africa’s youth, and by encouraging creativity through innovation and entrepreneurship, I am convinced that Africa will have a great future. The more Africans produce and innovate solutions to the continent’s daily challenges, the less we will have to rely on outside support to fund our economic growth and build a sustainable future.

For more on IPA, please visit www.innovationprizeforafrica.org and APPLY NOW to win your share of USD 150’000. The deadline for submitting applications for IPA 2015 is 31 October 2014 at 24h00 GMT.

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Comment by Teyei Pam on October 4, 2014 at 1:01

Again this is awesome Pauline!

Africa is said to be the youngest continent in the world with a large percentage of young people who are not just an "attractive market" population but also a fast growing productive, creative, innovative and gifted youth population.

The wealth of Africa is therefore in the youths of Africa which explains the need for youth capacity building and funding of creative and innovative ideas so that these youths are empowered and supported for sustainable progressive development.

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