In October this year, Kigali, Rwanda, will play host to the 7th edition of one of Africa’s most celebrated innovation events, Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA). The event, which will take place will take place from October 11th to 12th, 2018, at Kigali Convention Center in Rwanda, aims at showcasing African ingenuity as well as recognizing and connecting African innovators and entrepreneurs with key innovation ecosystems enablers. The decision to host the event in Rwanda received an endorsement from the Government of Rwanda.
“We are delighted to host the Innovation Prize for Africa 2018. We commend AIF’s work to address the continent’s challenges through innovation,” said Honorable Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa, Minister of Information Technology and Communications, while commenting on the event. “IPA’s message cuts across generations and puts forth mindsets that are passionate about the upliftment of Africa. Such an event showcases African ingenuity. We look forward to hosting these brilliant minds.”
This year’s event themed ‘Investing in Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems’ calls for African governments and innovation stakeholders to invest in building bridges for more inclusive ecosystems that will accelerate and scale African innovation at all levels of society. The aim is to increase access to innovative financing and know-how and to enhance collaboration between African nations to enable local innovators to access higher value markets for their solutions at a faster rate.
Why Rwanda was selected to host
Rwanda was selected as the host country based on the bid it submitted which underscored the Government’s commitment towards building a knowledge based economy by promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. Rwanda’s strategic and widespread adoption of ICTs, which has propelled the nation towards socio-economic growth, makes it the ideal host nation for IPA 2018.
The Government’s vision for 2020 is to transform Rwanda into a self-reliant, knowledge-based economy, and move its status towards becoming an upper-middle to high-income country. With an aim to become a leading innovation and technology hub in the continent, Rwanda is a pioneer in deploying Smart City technology to improve the lifestyles and social sustainability of its citizens. Tech hubs have been playing an important role in Rwanda’s innovation ecosystem, offering enabling environments for young Rwandans with business ideas to innovate. These hubs aim to support a new generation of Rwandese entrepreneurs that will create jobs and contribute to the economy. Moreover, the Government of Rwanda is committed to increasing competition in the continent to foster innovation, spur job creation and promote inclusive economic growth.
“Recently, Rwanda has emerged as one of Africa’s most innovative economies, topping the ranks as far as science, technology and innovation (STI) capacity is concerned. The government’s goal to attract US$1 billion worth of ICT investments by 2020, backed by major milestones such as the Kigali Innovation City, is a reflection of its commitment towards digital transformation,” the Chairman of the AIF Board Walter Fust said while commenting on the partnership with the Government of Rwanda.
“Rwanda’s efforts to support innovation and promote high-tech sectors such as ICTs and life sciences are truly commendable. We are proud to partner with the Government of Rwanda to host IPA 2018 and look forward to collaborating with Rwandan innovators and innovation enablers in their quest to become an innovation-led knowledge economy,” Just said further.
IPA processes and achievements
Over the past six years, AIF has partnered with innovation enablers and governments in Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa to host the Innovation Prize for Africa event. Together with its partners, AIF has made great strides in strengthening African innovation ecosystems through ongoing collaborative programs and strategic partnerships aimed at unlocking the potential of African innovators. Today, AIF has a network of over 9,400 African innovators across 55 countries and over 400 innovation enablers. IPA impact is illustrated by the fact that it has generated over US$ 30 million in investments for African innovators and past winners/nominees have achieved commendable milestones benefiting not only themselves but also their communities.
According to the AIF Managing Director and IPA Program Director Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl 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. She said that they are delighted to partner with the Government of Rwanda and connecting our ever-growing Pan-African network of African innovators, enablers and partners with the country’s innovators and enablers. She is also confident that this partnership will go a long way in helping to build stronger, more sustainable innovation ecosystems that will propel the continent forward.
The 2018 edition call for entries ran from 10 October 2017 through to 10 January 2018. The submissions will be judged on the backdrop of IPA’s themes supporting social and economic innovation in the following five categories: manufacturing and service industry; health and well-being; agriculture and agri-business; environment, energy and water; and ICT showcasing ground-breaking innovations.
What you didn’t know about the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA)
IPA was endorsed at its inaugural edition in Addis Ababa in 2012 where African ministers at the joint African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) passed a resolution to support AIF to promote innovation-based societies across the continent.
IPA has been successfully celebrated in African major capitals representing African regions: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2012), Cape Town, South Africa (2013), Abuja, Nigeria (2014), Skhirat, Morocco (2015), Gaborone, Botswana (2016), and more recently in Accra, Ghana (2017).
Besides a host of exciting side events and brand new initiatives for Africa by Africans, IPA 2018 will offer the following prizes and incentives to winners and nominees:
- A Grand prize of US$100 000
- Second Prize of US$25 000
- Special Prize for Social Impact US$25 000
- A voucher for each of the seven IPA nominees of US$5 000
- Additional incentives include investment opportunities, training and access to AIF’s vibrant network of innovation enablers, ongoing PR support and media coverage
IPA thematic areas are Agriculture/Agri-Business; Environment, Energy & Water; Health & Wellbeing; Information Communication Technologies (ICTS); Manufacturing and Service Industry.