IPA 2016 excitement mounts in Botswana

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

As the dates for the big event draws near, the tempo at the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH), who are working in collaboration with the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology and the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) has reached fever point. The organizations will host the fifth edition of Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) in Gaborone on June 23. 

On the hosting of the event, the lead spokesperson at the BIH Tigele Mokobi said “Botswana’s selection as host country for IPA 2016 is seen in its commitment towards building its national innovation ecosystem. This is demonstrated by Botswana’s catalytic role in capitalising on and supporting the knowledge economy through the development of the country’s first Science and Technology Park, the Botswana Innovation Hub,” said BIH communications manager. 

Mokobi who was speaking the announcement in a press conference recently, said the decision to host IPA in Botswana had received the highest endorsement from President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama. 

“IPA is a landmark programme of the AIF, whose purpose is to increase the prosperity of Africans by catalysing the innovation spirit in Africa.  The AIF offers several avenues of opportunity for local, national, regional and international growth and exposure to Africa’s next cadre of innovators. The IPA is an annual award ceremony that brings together the African community of problem solvers and celebrates Africa’s ingenuity,” he said.

He further explained that IPA was launched with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and endorsed by ministers attending African Union conference in 2012. 

“IPA recognises, rewards and mobilises for African innovators through promoting home-grown, market-driven solutions addressing intractable challenges in agriculture, health and well-being, manufacturing and service industry, ICTs and environment, energy and water,” he said.

Mr Mokobi noted that IPA has successfully been celebrated in African major capitals representing the African regions such as Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) in 2011, Cape Town (South Africa) in 2013, Abuja (Nigeria) in 2014, and Skhirat (Morocco) in 2015 ever since its inauguration.

For her part, AIF director, Ms Pauline Koelbi said her organisation saw such an initiative as the power to connect movers and shakers who believes in Africans’ capability in solving their own problems.

“We are not waiting for anyone. They believe in solving problems and all they want is the acknowledgement and the platform to share what they have, so no one is reinventing the wheel,” she said.

She said since the awards started in 2011, the prize has attracted over 6 000 innovators from the African Countries, which had made it a unique initiative, promoting innovation by Africans for Africa, adding that they have been able to showcase the best of Africa’s creations.

“The 10 nominees who shall be in Gaborone have already been announced, with four from South Africa, three from Nigeria, three from Egypt, Kenya and Benin,” she said. In a separate statement earlier,  Koelbi said although Botswana was not nominated, there had been a good participation from the country, adding however that this was an open competition, which was open for the judges to pick the best. The decision to host IPA in Botswana received the highest endorsement from H.E. President Dr. Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the President of Botswana.


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