Africa

Why Africa's future depends on its women entrepreneurs

Illustrator Sena Ahadji speaks to a client on the phone from her house in Accra, Ghana, July 24, 2015.

Do you know a top female entrepreneur based in sub-Saharan Africa? Image: REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Elsie S. Kanza
Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to the USA and Mexico, Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania in the USA
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Africa?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Fourth Industrial Revolution is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Africa

What does the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean to you? Do you fear robots or self-driving cars taking your job, or do you see the blockchain, 3D printing or any other fast-developing technology as an opportunity to create a business, overtake the competition or build a fairer, more equal society?

This is the question that will play out at the World Economic Forum on Africa next month in Kigali. For Africa, this coming tide of change offers an unprecedented opportunity to catch up and even overtake decades of under-investment by building modern, vibrant economies with the continent’s best natural resource – its people – rightfully at the centre.

Loading...

But there will be challenges, too. Automation in industry and the services sector will threaten both white and blue collar jobs; poor education could leave a generation of young school and college leavers without the skills required to compete in an increasingly competitive global digital marketplace.

I strongly believe that the 21st century will be Africa’s century, that its young population has the potential to build a world where they are not only materially better off but also where things are fairer, more sustainable and more tolerant than at any other time in history. Creating this entirely realistic future just means mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and this requires innovation on a scale previously unseen on the continent.

Let’s start with the positives. In the past three months alone Rwanda has announced plans to build the continent’s first research centre for quantum computing. At the same time, two Nigerian tech businesses – e-commerce giant Africa Internet Group and fintech specialist Interswitch – are racing to become the continent’s first unicorn, a private tech company valued at a billion dollars or over. And Nigerian schoolgirls recently built a robot to tackle household waste.

We need to keep this pipeline of promise brimming and this means doing everything we can to empower the next generation of start-ups and entrepreneurs. At the World Economic Forum on Africa, we will be celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship, from the Technology Pioneers leading pioneering video search and offgrid power supply, to the Global Shapers, Young Global Leaders and Social Entrepreneurs redefining the parameters of success in this time of digital transformation. In keeping with our focus on young champions, we are also launching our challenge to find Africa’s top women innovators.

Unless women are to make a full contribution, Africa will never master the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is why we want to showcase Africa’s very best female technology entrepreneurs in Kigali in May. We already know from research that there are lots of them out there: according to CNN, Africa leads the world in the number of female entrepreneurs.

If you are a female technology entrepreneur based in sub-Saharan Africa with a business between one and three years old that is scaleable, with proven innovation or proprietary technology and a record in delivering social impact, you can apply here or fill in the form below. Working with the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Economics of Innovation, as well as our Impact Investing and Social Entrepreneur communities and a selection of experienced judges, we will select the very best entrants and invite them to next month's meeting in Kigali, where they will be able to meet investors alongside other leaders from across business, politics and civil society. What are you waiting for?

Loading...
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Fourth Industrial RevolutionGender InequalityAfricaEntrepreneurship
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

How African cities can learn from each other about building climate resilience

Babajide Oluwase

April 15, 2024

2:06

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum