On the 3rd and 4th of April 2015 the world says hello to the 5th annual MIT Africa Innovate Conference to be held at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. The whole concept of ‘Africa Innovate’ is to provide a platform where the hottest ideas and novelties in finance, healthcare, energy, education and most importantly in entrepreneurship can be incubated. These aforementioned ideas are drafted and theorised with Africa being the place of implementation. It goes without saying that this would without a doubt assist the continent in reaching its full potential and utilizing all of our vast resources on our own soil.
The conference has five elements; sessions with keynote speakers, the panel sessions, vision talks, a startup showcase and lastly the much anticipated 2015 Business Plan Competition. The keynote speakers are established professionals in their fields and are ready and willing to give in depth advice about how to transcend attendee’s ideas into practical solutions, as well as what constitutes a ‘good’ idea. The conference organizing committee has outdone themselves in the past managing to secure extremely sought after speakers such as Makhtar Diop (VP of Africa Region, World Bank Group) and Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Minister of Finance/Economy, Nigeria) among others. This year is no different with Mostafa Terrab who is the chairman and CEO of the OCP Group and Arnold Ekpe who is the chairman of the Atlas Mara. The panel sessions are of interest to anyone who wants to participate in open discourse about the progression of the continent, and hear testimony from experts in technology, business and entrepreneurship. The topics that will be covered during these panel sessions are: connecting the continent, building the African supply chain, and the next generation of entrepreneurship.
Lastly there is the Business Plan Competition which will centrally be fixated on showcasing ideas, in their purest form, that would solve a problem for the continents inhabitants and stakeholders. Submissions for the competition began in February with many young hopefuls coming from universities all over the United States, 6 finalists have been selected to compete for varies cash prizes. There is the innovate MDaaS which aims to advance the accessibility, affordability and availability of the equipment used in Nigerian hospitals. They will do this by leasing out the said equipment for a monthly fee as opposed to the hospitals buying these expensive machines themselves. Secondly there is Airpress which is community marketplace where users will be able to purchase products from outside their countries, which will increase the trade across African borders. Additionally there is MatatuMoney which is concerned with transportation optimization, it is mobile app that directs mini-bus drivers to the areas of highest demand while simultaneously, allows riders to find the best available ride and route. Joining this group of finalists is Safire, which has pioneered a process for the low-cost thermochemical densification of biomass at source without the input of additional heat/energy (i.e. auto-thermal process). Adding to the prestige of the competition is the Practical Education Network which empowers African teachers to implement practical learning alongside their respective national curriculum. Finally, there is Addis Ideas which is revolutionary mobile application designed to crowd-source African development ideas from African nationals and the African diaspora.
For all the competitors we wish you all the best, and for anyone interested tickets are still available here.