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Rwanda has been picked to host the prestigious 2018 Innovation Prize for Africa event, which is in recognition of the country’s deliberate drive towards a knowledge –and technology-powered economy.

The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) announced on Tuesday that the 7th edition of the renowned Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) will take place from October 11th – 12th, 2018, at the Kigali Convention Center in Rwanda. The selection as host city was an acknowledgement of the East African country’s commitment towards building a knowledge-based economy by promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. This year’s theme: ‘Investing in Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems.’ 

“We are delighted to host the Innovation Prize for Africa 2018. We commend AIF’s work to address the continent’s challenges through innovation. 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,” Honorable Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa, Minister of Information Technology and Communications said. The minister also emphasized on the effort made by the government of Rwanda to deploying innovative solutions for the country’s problems.

The strategic efforts made by Rwanda to ensure widespread adoption of ICTs, especially within the overnment has propelled the nation towards socio-economic growth. 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 a high-income country.  It also strives to become a leading innovation and technology hub in the continent.

Already, Rwanda is a pioneer in deploying Smart City Technologies to improve the lifestyles and social sustainability of its citizens. Tech hubs are springing up all around the city and are playing an important role in Rwanda’s innovation ecosystem; they offer an enabling environment for the numerous young Rwandans (Rwanda has a median age of 19, making it one of the lowest on the continent) with business ideas to innovate. These hubs have the ability to create a whole new generation of Rwandese entrepreneurs that will create jobs and contribute significantly 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. 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,” the AIF Chairman of the Board, Walter Fust, sharing some insight on the partnership between the country and the foundation.

AIF has a knack for partnering with innovation enablers and governments that support innovative ideas in their country. Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa have all been host to the Innovation Prize for Africa event. AIF has a network of over 9,400 African innovators across 55 countries and over 400 innovation enablers. With over US$ 30 Million in investments generated for African innovators, the award has been able to leverage its network to achieve its aim of bridging financing for innovators. Apart from that, past winners/nominees have achieved commendable milestones benefiting not only themselves but also the African community.

This year’s theme 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.

This IPA 2018 will bring together key government officials, public and private sector stakeholders as well as innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, academics, researchers, policymakers, think tanks and STI experts. The two-day event will feature a series of strategic roundtables and workshops aimed at identifying solutions and key actions to drive investments in inclusive innovation ecosystems across Africa.

It will also feature an innovation marketplace where IPA winners and nominees together with Rwandan and other selected African innovators will showcase their innovations to a Pan African and international audiences, including top-tier media. The grand prize for the event is US$100 000.

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