Increase Investments in ICT

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Accelerated growth on the continent lies with increased investments in ICT infrastructure. According to Gabriel Negatu, the Director in charge of EARC, there are many new innovations in the field of ICT whose growth is hampered by dearth of capital.

"The nexus between ICT and economic growth has already been established. The critical element missing is increased investment in ICT infrastructure, which can only be achieved by increased collaboration between the public and private sectors since the initial capital outlay can be prohibitive to individual investors,” said Negatu during the launch of a conference for innovators to be held in Nairobi.

Demo Africa, the event organisers, said the financial support by AfDB will go a long way in paving the way for people with innovative ideas to link up with capital providers.

“This is a platform where the most innovative companies from across Africa will launch their products for the first time as they pitch for capital and strategic partnerships,” said Harry Hare, Demo Africa’s Director and the event organizer.

The AfDB has provided sponsorship for the event among other private and public institutions.

Harry Hare singled out the success of Safaricom’s Mpesa as a global example of Africa’s potential to steer innovation in the ICT sector.

“We are on the edge of a technology entrepreneurial revolution which requires the participation of both the public and private sectors to take off. What we are looking at now is the making of technology billionaires in dollar terms from the continent and creating massive job opportunities as they grow ,” Harry noted.

According to 2009 DEMO demonstrator research study conducted by BluePoint Ventures, in the past 20 years, 22% of past demonstrators received funding within 60 days as a direct result of a DEMO launch. 92% who secured funding, did so within 9 months of DEMO where 62% received over $1 million in funding - mostly from venture and angel investors. In the past five years, DEMO companies have raised over $4.5 billion dollars in the months/years following their debut at DEMO.

The 2.5 day conference to be held from October 24th – 26th, at the KICC in Nairobi, Kenya will provide a platform for the start-ups to launch their products to an audience of potential investors, corporate acquirers, government dignitaries, policy makers, academia,  development organizations and global media.