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African women innovators show the way

Africa women innovators show the wayRwanda is hosting the World Economic Forum for Africa with three days of discussions.

The rise in commodity prices and the chinese slowdown hit the continent hard and the question know is whether Africa has the resilience to withstand these new factors.

For the WEF part of the answer lies in digitalisation and how this can transform the continent’s economies. The Forum’s theme this year was Digital Transformation for Africa. To highlight that theme the WEF selected five young women to be showcased as Africa’s top women innovators. They came from Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda and cover such sectors as mobile health insurance, solar-powered vending carts, biomedical materials, IT training and food processing.

With  Africa’s population poised to double to two billion in the next generation it is clear that the continent’s future lies in the hands of its youth. – And young women have a key role to play in becoming the entrepreneurs and innovators of the future who will create the jobs for this increased population.

But, according to WEF, while the region’s start-up businesses are gaining confidence and scale with a growing number of innovations achieving recognition beyond the region’s borders, much more must be done to create an enabling environment that allows entrepreneurs to flourish. This is especially the case for women entrepreneurs, whose potential is far from being optimized.

So step forward:

*Natalie Bitature from Uganda who has developed a solar-bowered vending cart which  saves 3,000 tons of carbon emissions and improves the health of cities by eliminating pollution from charcoal and kerosene stoves.

*Audrey Cheng from Kenya who has founded her own school for teach digital skills with a result that  100% of her students have been placed in work, and earning on average 350% more than before they completed the coursework.

*Lilian Makoi Rabi from Tanzania who has set up a low cost healthcare scheme which enables health services by drastically reducing costs with its completely mobile, paperless solution.

*Nneile Nkholise of South Africa who’s tech group designs breast and facial prostheses for cancer and burn victims. The company only employs African women under the age of 30.

*Larissa Ukase of Rwanda who has developed ways of using sweet potatoes to provide Rwandans with new healthier food products.

WEF’s Head of Africa Elsie Kanza sees these young women as the trailblazers of a new generation of young women who will harness digital technology to improve lives across the continent. Elsie comments:

“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. But this will not be achieved unless women are able to make a full contribution. This is why we are showcasing Africa’s best female entrepreneurs in Kigali this week.”

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