Last week I was invited to speak at the IFC Sustainability Exchange: Invest for Tomorrow in Dakar
The event explores how to drive innovation through inclusion. The Exchange convenes game changers in infrastructure, natural resources, science, and the arts to challenge assumptions and build a pipeline of sustainable investments across Africa and the globe.
I spoke on the urgency of youth innovation in Africa and was on the shark tank panel that judged 4 game changing startups within the sustainability and innovation space.
My Talk on Youth Innovation
We all know the numbers, Africa is the youngest continent with average age 17 years. Which according to the International Labor Organization, World Economic Forum and others mean that, by 2040 majority of the world workforce will be of African descent.
This can be seen two ways either as ‘bad thing’- in fact I have been in a conversation where Africa’s demographic bulge has been described as a tsunami. I don’t quite understand how Africa’s demographic bulge is placed in the same category as a force of nature, which rises up and destroys everything in its path.
I prefer to think about Africa’s youth bulge as an opportunity, as it offers the opportunity to push a whole continent of young people, to build on the innovation that is so prevalent in Africa; necessity innovation.
Necessity Innovation, is borne out of not having access to large funding for Research and Development, but an intimate understanding of the problem space and the use of available materials i.e. heavily leveraging on Frugality and Flexibility to innovate in problem solving.
There are many examples in Fintech and Agritech, where young Africans have used technology fix structural and last mille distribution of banking and relevant agricultural solutions.
The role of all relevant key players, is to be able to fund/support the refining and teaching on Africa’s frugal and flexible innovation techniques across the continent through research.