Connecting African innovators with resources to harness inclusive innovation ecosystems

December 19, 2017

If you are an African innovator and have not yet heard about Africa's premier innovation initiative the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) hook up now and get involved!

Yes, we are on a great mobilisation drive to see your home-grown product, initiative, tool or app being showcased across the continent and beyond, so connect with us now. Our Call for Applications is underway and submissions are rolling in. Just nine weeks after the IPA 2018 launch on 10 October 2017, over 2 000 applications have been received from 48 countries!

IPA is now in its seventh year running, and our journey has been transformative, with increasing high-quality innovations, investment opportunities and a vibrant network of African innovation enablers. IPA not only taps into and showcases home-grown talent across the continent, but seeks to foster an innovation culture from Cape to Cairo. Our aim is to mobilize enablers, investors and innovators towards building robust innovation ecosystems for a thriving African marketplace.

Below are details of the actual awards:


Says Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, IPA Director, and an avid catalyzer of innovative African solutions: "We believe that African home-grown innovations can thrive through mobilizing and connecting the right players - not only innovators and entrepreneurs - but innovation enablers such as researchers, investors as well as legal and business minds towards creating and sustaining inclusive innovation ecosystems. Our work is rooted in mobilizing the right players, including governments and providing unique platforms for them to collaborate. This is enhanced by our strong African value, culture and belief that we as Africans are capable of solving our own challenges on the continent, given access to the right tools."

To this end, the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) driver of the IPA program, offers unique platforms to leverage and reward African ingenuity, as well as facilitate networking and cross-exchange of ideas, trends and business opportunities. IPA specifically targets African innovators and enablers, as well as women and young people who have a vital role to play in propelling the continent forward through innovation and entrepreneurship.

The annual IPA competition is open to Africans across the continent and those living in the diaspora. Participants must demonstrate scalable, market-oriented innovative solutions as well as provide evidence on how these solutions can boost socio-economic prosperity in Africa. Out of the IPA initiative, AIF boasts a database of more than 8 000 African innovators spanning 54 African countries - each member has a promising story to share, from novel solutions in agri-business, to dynamic educational games, to alleviating persistent food and nutrition challenges, and addressing critical health care burdens such as HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. The infographic below illustrates IPA impact to date.

To enhance our mobilization efforts, we recently created and launched ZuaHub an innovative platform designed for African innovators. ZuaHub links innovators with resources, helping them grow smart businesses. The platform maps and connects African ecosystems towards increased sharing, learning, exchange and collaboration.

Robinson Esialimba, IPA Process Manager and an entrepreneur in his own right, spearheaded this initiative over a period of research, review and market analysis: "It's not so much that we don't have the funding, research and technical know-how to take our products to the marketplace, scale up or further develop our innovations; these support mechanisms do exist, but they simply need to be synchronised, availed and accessed through one user-friendly platform to allow the innovation community to share and exchange, as well as do business. ZuaHub, we believe is the answer!"

It is through these platforms that AIF catalyses innovation in Africa, showcasing innovative ideas, creating value and offering business opportunities for future growth. We strive to continue investing in building the knowledge and skills of innovators across Africa, supporting home-grown ingenuity as best we can so local innovations can thrive in the marketplace and compete on a global scale. In future series, we will showcase success stories of IPA winners in the African marketplace as well as on the international market with lucrative deals.

So, African innovators, here's your invitation to join us and take your innovation or business idea to a new level as well as scale out to other markets. If you meet our IPA criteria we guarantee space for you to showcase your African ingenuity in the marketplace. Don't forget to check out and register on our ZuaHub platform!

For more details on our forthcoming event, IPA 2018, learn more here:

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  • The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) works to increase the prosperity of Africans by catalysing the innovation spirit in Africa. We want to see needs-based change happen through innovation-led programming. Find out more about us here:

By Aulora Stally, AIF Communications Consultant