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The State of the Africa Region: Leveraging Innovation to Transform Agriculture and Energy
MC C1-250 (MC Café), World Bank Group Headquarters
This year’s State of the Africa Region (SOR) was a standing-room only, lively and spirited event with a predominantly female panel representing the public sector, private sector, the youth and academia. Youth voices had a prominent place in this forum, with the young panelists calling for collaborative efforts in creating ecosystems that allow innovation and research to drive growth.
This most-attended SOR ever attracted over 560 participants and was, for the first time, broadcast on live television through the CNBC Africa channel, reaching most of Africa’s major capitals. The focus this time was on leveraging disruptive technologies and innovations in the agriculture and energy sectors to cultivate human development and spur economic growth.
Africa posted a 2.6% growth in 2017, up from 1.5% in 2016. Economic research predicts a 3.1% growth in 2018 and 3.6% in both 2019 and 2020. Along with those milestones highlighted in the most recent Africa’s Pulse, panelists agreed that sustainable growth will only be achieved through collaborative efforts from all stakeholders. This includes favorable environments created by policy makers, and continued innovation in technologies that support growth.
Panelists shared the impact of the success of digital technology, and re-emphasized the need for more access to financing to support it. They also discussed the importance of scalable ecosystems to support collaboration between innovators, the private sector, policy makers and the stakeholders. These ecosystems, they said, are sure to be the bedrock of larger regional markets which are critical to sustained growth. Also important is data, which, the panel said is often overlooked, yet remains a critical element at all levels of the ecosystem, from the consumer to the distributor.