The beautiful city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia hosted the 4th edition of the AfriLabs Annual Gathering in partnership with the African Union Commission Department of Human Resource, Science and Technology, from the 28th – 30th October 2019 at the African Union Headquarters. The Gathering themed ‘Connect: Towards an Integrated Innovation Ecosystem’ provided a unique opportunity for tech hubs in the AfriLabs network and other stakeholders of the African innovation ecosystem like local innovators (entrepreneurs), corporates, investors, governments, academia, and developmental agencies to convene, network, share knowledge and build partnerships.
Prior to the kickoff of the Gathering on the 28th of October, AfriLabs held its 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the 27th, where amongst several interesting activities on the Meeting Agenda, members voted and elected a new Board of the AfriLabs Network, with the support of Polldeck (a customer experience startup with a multichannel software that supports event organizers to engage their audiences at events). The new AfriLabs Board is now thus:
Board Chair – Rebecca Enonchong (ActivSpaces, Cameroun)
Board Secretary – Moataz Helmy (The District, Egypt)
Board Treasurer – Kudzai M. Mubaiwa (iZone Hub, Zimbabwe)
Francophone Representative – Fatoumata Niang Niox (Jokkolabs, Senegal)
Board Member – Nekesa Were (iHub, Kenya)
Board Member – Daniel Chinagozi (Innovation Growth Hub, Nigeria)
Board Member – Linda Kwamboka (iBiz Africa – Strathmore University, Kenya)
The New Board of AfriLabs with the Executive Director of AfriLabs.
LTR: Daniel Chinagozi, Kudzai M. Mubaiwa, Nekesa Were, Rebecca Enonchong, Linda Kwamboka, Fatoumata Niang Niox, Anna Ekeledo and Moataz Helmy.
The outgoing Board includes Bernard Chira (Board Secretary), Rakotoarivo Noharintsafidy Sarobidy (Board Treasurer), Regina Mbodj (Francophone Representative). Rebecca Enonchong was unopposed and re-elected as the Board Chair of AfriLabs, while a position on the Board (occupied by Nekesa Were) wasn’t open for election as a means to ensure smooth transition and continuity from the previous Board to the new Board.
The AfriLabs Annual Gathering 2019 then kicked off the next day at the African Union Commission Headquarters and welcomed over 350 amazing participants from distinguished hubs and organizations across the globe, and with awesome speakers from various organizations, backgrounds and expertise. It was an incredible and engaging three days experience which featured keynote addresses, multiple parallel workshops, local ecosystem tours, networking sessions and panel discussions that treated interesting talking points such as Increasing Early Stage Investment into African Startups, A Development Approach: Working with Hubs to Support African Startups, Working with Corporates to Support African Startups, Increasing Participation of Women in the African Innovation Ecosystem, Engaging the African Diaspora, amongst others.
Panel Session on ‘A Development Approach: Working with Hubs to Support African Startups’
LTR: Tayo Akinyemi – International Consultant at UN International Trade Centre,Torbjorn Fredriksson – Chief at ICT Policy Section, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Ndeye Gningue Absa – Senior Innovation Officer at African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Karim Sy – President at Digital Africa, Ngwenya Prudence Nonkululeko – Head of Human Resource and Youth Development, African Union Commision(AUC).
Highlights of this year’s Gathering also include the official launch of some AfriLabs programmes/initiatives such as: Catalyst – a new investment solution for African startups, in partnership with the African Business Angels Network (ABAN); the EdTech Hub – the world’s largest education technology research project that seeks to develop education technology in developing countries, in partnership with the University of Cambridge, the Overseas Development Institute, Results for Development, Brink, Jigsaw, Open Development and Education, INJINI, e-Learning Africa and BRAC; and the AfriLabs Capacity Building Programme (ACBP) – a 36 months intensive capacity building programme for hubs across Africa, with a funding of 2 Million Euros by the French Development Agency (AFD).
“This year’s Gathering was a very encouraging and progressive push towards our main goal to bring together various stakeholders of the ecosystem to discuss and collaborate on how best we can advance innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa.
Following our theme, “Connect: Toward An Integrated Innovation Ecosystem” we succeeded in bringing together key actors from innovation hubs, the investment space, development, corporate, academia, the diaspora and government to not only have very important conversations and proffer solutions but more importantly, build relationships and, as evident in some of the programme pledges and MoUs signed, take concrete steps in meeting our collective agenda. This to us was a huge success and we are grateful to everyone who made it happen!” – Anna Ekeledo, Executive Director, AfriLabs.
During the Annual Gathering, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Association of Startup and SMEs Enablers of Kenya (ASSEK), Innovation Support Network (ISN) Hubs, Nigeria and Technology & Business Hubs Network, Ghana (TBHN) towards an integrated innovation ecosystem was another highlight of the Gathering was also signed.
This Gathering was made possible with the support from AfriLabs community of hubs, sponsors and partners such as the African Union Commission Department of Human Resource, Science and Technology, GIZ-AU, GIZ-PAU, GIZ Make-IT Africa, African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Liquid Telecom, The African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe (ADYFE), Citizens and Diaspora Directorate (CIDO), Microsoft, Google, Digital Africa, International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Seme City, Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS), Mozilla, ABAN, University of Basel, TechVillage, XHub, Suguba, ISN Hubs, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airways, Ghana Hubs Network and ASSEK.