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Africa is on the move. African countries are developing at a rapid rate: six of fifty-four countries are listed among the fastest growing economies in the world. Africa has 300+ tech hubs in 93 cities across 42 countries. The Pan-African innovation scene is growing at a rapid pace. African startups have raised a record-breaking $725 million invested across 458 deals in 2018, an increase of 300 percent from the previous year. Increased internet penetration, mass urbanization, and growth in smartphone adoption, combined with rapid population growth, has made Africa extremely attractive.
Development in the continent is especially apparent in technology fields where creative inventions, tech hacks, and innovations are offering solutions to socially-centered problems. Innovations range from solar-powered motorcycles in Kenya to robotics school nurturing a new generation of problem-solvers in Uganda, and honey-spun band-aids designed to heel diabetics’ wounds in Egypt. African innovators have also harnessed mobile money, along with advances in solar power and battery storage, to leapfrog the continent’s gaps in electric power generation. If you drive around parts of rural Africa today, you’ll see business-led energy innovations changing lives, one homestead at a time.
Innovation in Africa has certainly taken off. From fintech to health to the environment, clever inventions are improving the lives of millions of people. The most promising innovations compensate for structural problems, like inefficient food distribution systems, inadequate waste management, or unreliable energy infrastructure. Over the last decade, African advances in technology, especially in the homegrown mobile banking sector in East Africa, have shown how innovation can contribute to economic development across the continent and beyond. African innovators and entrepreneurs are developing tailored inventions for Africa. Opportunities are boundless as mobile-fueled tech adoption flourishes. Still, there is a great need for more support to ensure that entrepreneurs and local innovators continue to get the resources they need to be successful. We look to venture enablers, creatives, and young leaders in both public and private sectors to further Africa’s homegrown innovation.
Join us at the 2019 Haas Africa Business Forum to explore and discuss how to position Africa’s challenges as opportunities with other visionaries, thought leaders and home-grown innovation enablers.
Spieker Forum, Chou Hall, Haas School of Business, Berkeley, CA 94720-1764, United States
Haas Africa Business Forum, organised by the HAAS School of Business, explores trends, challenges and opportunities in Africa with visionaries, thought leaders and game changers.