AfDB holds first tech summit to find solutions for women, youth

The African Development Bank (AfDB) welcomed 160 young entrepreneurs and techies from around West Africa to its headquarters in Abidjan Oct. 9 to Oct. 11 for its first-ever Innovation Weekend.

A major focus of the meeting was to generate tech-based solutions in order to bring more women and young people into the workforce. Approximately 60 percent of unemployed people in Sub-Saharan Africa are between 15 to 24 years old, with the majority of them being women, AfDB said.

“We want big ideas to generate big wins, and that means taking big risks,” AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said. "However, ideas without money will eventually die. As the African Development Bank, we want to look at ways in which we can create accelerator funds to incubate these ideas."

Over the course of the weekend, participants were given training on how to bring their ideas into fruition and a contest was held to select the top ones.

The four winners were PayFree, a multiplex platform for payments; La Ruche, a marketplace for artisans and their goods; Coliba, a mobile platform for managing urban waste; and BioPRO, a means of helping rural people access energy.

Each winning idea will be developed under a mentorship from the African entrepreneurship company Ampion. The IT and communications company Orange will also incubate the new businesses by connecting them with investors.

More than 1,200 people attempted to register for the gathering, prompting the AfDB to plan a second weekend event for the spring.

October's gathering included participants from Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Togo and Senegal.

Organizations in this Story

African Development Bank Group

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