Meet Africa’s New Emerging Leaders: The TechCamp West Africa 2015
Between February 6 – 8th, this year one hundred young technology & social entrepreneurs from Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo gathered to engage in hands-on capacity building, and networking with the region’s leading government, academic, civil society and business experts. The initiative was spear-headed by the US Embassy Ghana and the GhanaThink Foundation to encourage cross border collaboration, inspire entrepreneurship, and promote increased trade across borders. The theme for the TechCamp West Africa programme was “Entrepreneurship: Adapt, Empower and Measure”
The TechCamp programme comprised of an inspiration session followed by hands-on learning for each of the three sub-themes – Adapt, Empower, Measure. The “Adapt” panel engaged representatives from partners — Microsoft, IBM and KPMG – in a discussion of their experiences in a changing social and economic landscape. The Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED) also led the “Adapt” hands-on learning session. The “Empower” session featured Patrick Awuah (Founder of Ashesi University), Nicole Amarteifio (An African City), and Sheku Kallon (PwC). Google in addition led the participants through the “Measurement” inspiration and learning sessions, sharing how to get the most out of entrepreneurial efforts by constantly measuring the environment, finding opportunities and avoiding pitfalls.
Meanwhile, 2014 Mandela Fellows Regina Agyare and Yayra Adzofu talked to the young entrepreneurs about the community service programs they have created and led them to participate in community service sessions — TechNeedsGirls and a sanitation program at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital. These social entrepreneurship programs demonstrate how to grow business or social programs through community service.
Vodafone Ghana and PwC Ghana headlined the Jam Sessions, which entailed a small group proffering solutions to problems on a variety of themes ranging from agriculture to robotics, and from new technology to elections.
Ambassador Gene Cretz, Honorable Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, and Leticia Browne of the Ghana Angel Investment Network provided feedback as country teams pitch solutions to improve the entrepreneurship environments in their particular communities.
Team Nigeria, (about 20 in number) was well represented and they pitched on the topic: Adapting Web and Mobile Phone Technology to Bridge the Value Chain Gap for Job Creation via Agriculture. They have resolved to form a company out of the pitch.
They are of the view that there are opportunities for about 1 million high productive jobs to be created in 1 year in the agricultural sector if technology is harnessed especially in the sales and distribution of agro allied products to the end users and also manufacturers; because more young people are able to take to agriculture.
They also believe that there is an opportunity for market equilibrium for agro products in 1 year because supply could equal demand because the consumer /end-user can be reached via online and mobile technology. This translates into a marginal fall in the prices of food items and agro raw materials for manufacturers.
With all these put together, the GDP contribution from the Agricultural sector could almost triple its current value in 1 year.
The last event was the visit to the technology ecosystem of Accra; where they were taken through various incubators including Hub Accra, iSpace Ghana and Meltwater School of Entrepreneural Technology (MEST) incubator.
Some of the participants from Nigeria share their experiences on twitter:
Author: Bidemi Nicholas Ojo
@beedemi: Thanks to #TechCampWA. I take adapting technology into business and forging alliances with fellows away from #AdaptEmpowerMeasure.
Click to see their bios www.techcampwestafrica.org