High-level representatives from the African Development Bank, the US Department of State, US Agency for International Development, Microsoft, Nokia, infoDev, DEMO, and the World Economic Forum (WEF) Friday launched a new partnership to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa.
The Liberalizing Innovation Opportunity Nations ([email protected]) partnership, put into effect at the ongoing WEF in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, seeks to mobilise the knowledge, expertise and resources of leading public and private institutions to encourage and enhance Africa’s innovation ecosystem and to spur entrepreneurship across the continent.
Six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies over the past decade are in sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, Internet usage across Africa has grown faster than on any other continent in the world.
A statement issued at the launch of the partnership said the awakening of the African economy provides an opportunity for global and African entrepreneurs and enterprises to forge partnerships for mutual economic prosperity.
[email protected] seeks to capitalize on this growth and create new opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa by providing a platform designed to inspire and challenge African innovators and entrepreneurs.
“This partnership will provide African startups with capacity building and training in business development, provide connectivity to global innovation grids, promote access to capital, create opportunities for partnership, and showcase best practices and successes in African-led innovation solutions,” it said.
Planned activities for the partnership include a series of programmes across the continent featuring promising African start ups and entrepreneurs as well as venture capital roundtables and innovation boot camps, and Startup Weekend events in over 20 African cities.
Qualifying start ups can join Microsoft BizSpark with access to a range of Microsoft technology for three years at no cost, to the community of BizSpark Network Partners in Africa, and to programmes at Microsoft Innovation Centers in the region.
[email protected] will also launch the first-ever DEMO Africa, a global platform to connect African startups to the global ecosystem, where the most innovative companies from African countries come to launch their products and announce to