ICT stakeholders to aid Africa's innovators
By Digital Reporter | October 24th 2012
By Standard Reporter
Stakeholders in the information and communication technology sector have reinforced their commitment to working together with African governments to promote the growth of the continent’s vibrant innovation drive.
Communications Commission of Kenya Director General, Francis Wangusi says the adoption of the innovations in the society will be driven by the joint participation of the public and private sector.
Wangusi asked stakeholders to play a significant role pointing out that the Kenya’s Vision 2030 advocates for the provision of incentives to create new knowledge and innovative systems.
“Kenya and especially our young tech savvy generation have flown our flag high in their valuable innovations that have won them international accolades, “ he said.
“We appreciate the work that the public and private partner organizations have done towards the DEMO Conference that is being held in Africa for the first time. We also wish to acknowledge the work that has been done through the Liberalizing Innovation Opportunity Nations ([email protected]) Partnership. This is a clear indication that public-private partnerships are necessary in catalyzing the growth of African economies. To ensure that these innovations are adopted in society, CCK urges more organizations to come together and provide the much needed support,” Wangusi said.
Speaking at the same conference to announce the new sponsors, DEMO Africa Executive Producer, Harry Hare singled out the success of Safaricom’s Mpesa as a global example of Africa’s potential to steer innovation in the ICT sector.
“We are on the edge of a technology entrepreneurial revolution which requires the participation of both the public and private sectors to take off. What we are looking at now is the making of technology billionaires in dollar terms from the continent and creating massive job opportunities as they grow,” Harry noted.
Safaricom who have also announced an imminent launch of a marketplace for indigenous applications also threw their weight behind the DEMO Africa initiative, together with Africa Development Bank and the Communication Commission of Kenya joining existing sponsors US State Department, USAID, Nokia, Microsoft and Infodev.
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“We recognize that huge app development talent exists in the emerging markets and in fact, only such developers can provide applications suitable for their respective markets. Demo Africa therefore provides us with a unique opportunity to harness these talents and address core issues impacting this growing sector. In addition, the regional dynamic introduced by this conference provides us with a platform to learn from our friends and neighbours. As Safaricom, technology is the backbone of our very existence and supporting initiatives such as this by Demo Africa are important to us a company,” said Nzioka Waita, Safaricom Director of Corporate Affairs.
The renewed commitment by the stakeholders has been made as Kenya prepares to host the inaugural DEMO Africa conference, a platform where the most innovative companies from across Africa will launch their products for the first time as they pitch for capital and strategic partnerships. All together, the startups are seeking to raise over $60million in growth capital.
"The nexus between ICT and economic growth has already been established. The critical element that is missing is increased investment in ICT infrastructure, which can only be achieved by increased collaboration between the public and private sectors since the initial capital outlay can be prohibitive to individual investors,” says Gabriel Negatu, AfDB Director in charge East Africa Resource Centre.
According to 2009 DEMO demonstrator research study conducted by BluePoint Ventures, in the past 20 years, 22 percent of past demonstrators received funding within 60 days as a direct result of a DEMO launch.
Some 92 percent who secured funding, did so within 9 months of DEMO where 62 percent received over $1 million (Sh84m) in funding - mostly from venture and angel investors. In the past five years, DEMO companies have raised over $4.5 billion in the months following their debut at DEMO.
The two-day conference to be held on October 24th – 26th, at the KICC in Nairobi, Kenya will provide a platform for the start-ups to launch their products to an audience of potential investors, corporate acquirers, government dignitaries, policy makers, academia, development organizations and global media.
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