Africa
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African Influencers For Development 

Editorial

Africa’s Young Innovators Blaze The Trail In Fighting Covid-19

 

 

By Ahunna Eziakonwa: Assistant Secretary General and Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa

Build forward better. This is the mantra for global recovery from COVID-19 and Africa is no exception. The world continues to falter under the weight of an unprecedented pandemic. Nothing is spared – not economies, not politics – and most unfortunately, not lives.

But we also observe something different – as prescriptive orthodox models fracture, paving way for the previously hidden talent and ingenuity in Africa’s young people to thrive. At the start of 2020, many would have bet their gold that sub-Saharan Africa was not the likely home for inventions in drones, robots; contact tracing apps, non-invasive testing kits, portable hands-free sanitation chambers, oxygen-making machines, genome sequencing, AI-powered healthcare chat bots and so much more… and yet here we are…witnessing an incredible display of possibility. Africa is managing complexity in the world’s most denting pandemic – and looking within for its solutions while at it.

Pre- COVID, Africa imported up to 94 per cent of its medication. And even though we are far from being out of the woods, we continue to observe a home-grown PPE revolution, signalling green shoots of capacity. It is in this footprint that we must invest. Supporting this untapped potential is what new generation development programming demands of all of us.

At UNDP Africa, we are sold to this approach.  It is this promise lens that underpins UNDP’s renewed strategic offer in Africa. We choose to see African innovation as part of a transformative change process.  The promise lens puts people first, propagating a showcase of talent, investing in creativity, resilience, and resourcefulness.

In the inaugural Africa Innovates Magazine, we start a journey of telling an African story of promise and influence. We have sought, and found, 50 of some of Africa’s innovators that saw in COVID 19 the opportunity to solve today’s challenges, lending credence to possibility and hope, and not to despair. We see each of these innovators as an important part of the web of hands rebuilding Africa forward: delivering solutions for a new Africa.  

They are not the only ones making a contribution on the continent – and this is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the talent there is, nor is it a ranking. We considered several more – and highlighted the 50 on African – led, disruptive, scalable, unique, inspirational, tried and tested, criteria. We will continue to profile more and more, and tell their stories to the world.

I hope that you will be as inspired as I am – and that you will join us in investing in Africa’s promise. Choose to believe in Africa – it is the future of development.

Supporting this untapped potential is what new generation development programming demands of all of us.

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