A Resilient Africa 2020 - An AfriLabs Impact Report

A Resilient Africa 2020 An annual report of AfriLabs impact

A Resilient Africa An annual report of AfriLabs impact





What AfriLabs is about Mission Vision

What a Year!

The AfriLabs Community in a pandemic How we grew this year Engaging our community Listening Tour AfriLabs Annual Gathering Meeting

How we responded to COVID-19 Covidtech.Africa Dialogue Series COVIDaction Rapid Analysis of Innovation Response to COVID-19 Pandemic (Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa) Impact Report Rollo Africa Zayed Sustainability Prize The EdTech Hub Djembe Insight Report Mozilla Roundtables

Building capacity in a pandemic AfriLabs Capacity Building Programme Needs Assessment Report AfriLabs Hubs Learning Week Meetup Grants Capacity Building Awards Activities powered by the ACBP AU-AGA Virtual Accelerator

The AfriLabs Annual Gathering - The Virtual Edition

Partners 2021 theme

2021: a year of celebration, reflection and moving forward

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


What AfriLabs is about

AfriLabs is a network organisation of over 200 innovation hubs in Africa. We support these hubs by building the capacity of their managers and staff, promoting local and regional collaboration and providing access to funding for their projects and startups. These hubs in turn support startups across the continent who build relevant and scalable solutions, thereby improving the lives of everyone and the economy in Africa.



To support innovation hubs and their communities to raise high potential entrepreneurs that will stimulate economic growth and social development in Africa. We achieve this through capacity building, financing, networking, policy advocacy, and providing insightful, reliable data.

A thriving innovation economy in Africa, driven by the power of our community.

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


What a Year! Foreword by Anna Ekeledo, Executive Director, AfriLabs

This year 2020 brought with it a plethora of emotions, experiences, and social, economic, political, and health events mainly influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. A number of us suffered loss and to those I say, in solidarity, our hearts continue to be with you and your families as you navigate into the year.

In spite of all of this, we are incredibly proud of the efforts of our community members, especially innovation hubs across the continent. At AfriLabs, we have seen resilience in the face of unprecedented disruption. Every day this year, we have worked with our community members who have stepped up to the challenge to support businesses across Africa navigate the negative effects of the pandemic; and build innovative solutions leveraging digital technologies to support governments, organizations, and society to increase access to healthcare, products, and services needed.

Most importantly, we have seen first hand the power and impact of collaboration among all stakeholders of the ecosystem. Throughout this report, you’ll see this evident in projects like Rollo Africa executed by our hub members in Egypt, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and Cameroon in

partnership with the African Union and UNDP, and our cross-regional projects between hubs across Africa supporting women entrepreneurs and driving new models of virtual incubation and investor matching supported by

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Agence française de développement (AFD). We have also had an interesting series of research activities and dialogues that have revealed interesting insights with partners such as Djembe Insights, KTN Global Alliance, and Mozilla Foundation as well through our activities at the EdTech Hub and CovidAction focused on supporting innovations that support out of school children and other citizens deal with the effects of the pandemic. This year our network grew and we added more countries into our network Guinea Bissau, Cabo Verde and Equatorial Guinea and we took our most exciting event every year, our AfriLabs Annual Gathering virtual. It was a memorable experience indeed!! Overall, we saw the power of our community shine through. We now believe more than ever that if we work together, we can overcome anything. We can build, grow, and achieve our vision of an Innovation economy in Africa, driven by the power of our community. We are a resilient people and this report showcases our stories, through the voices of our team, our members,

partners, and everyone who has worked with us or been impacted by us this year. If you have been part of our story, we would like to say a big thank you! If you haven’t...well, let’s make it happen in the new year 2021. We are always excited to grow our family!

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


The AfriLabs Community in a pandemic One of the goals for AfriLabs is to empower members of our network while providing a platform for collaboration. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic this year, we have continued to support our community via several capacity building initiatives like virtual workshops, webinars, networking opportunities, and project funding.

Conversation with the AfriLabs Board at the 2020 AfriLabs Annual Gathering

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


My experience thus far has been fulfilling and brings a sense of belonging and aligned purpose. The work AfriLabs has been doing across Africa is very instrumental in creating a clearly defined ecosystem framework and setting a standard and best practices that country initiative can emulate. Through AfriLabs I have been able to collaborate and network with several organizations across the continent and I am very confident that the collaboration will grow as we evolve and grow ourselves. AfriLabs has empowered me and my organization not only through the various grant opportunities but also by creating a platform where I can share my skills and market my organization's activities. I strongly believe AfriLabs is well placed and structured enough to bring all African tech and innovation startups together and to facilitate better policy development and implementation. I am a proud AfriLabber!

Avec AfriLabs, nous avons la possibilité de parler à des hubs à travers l'Afrique. AfriLabs nous donne le mérite de parler à des partenaires. Mes collègues apprennent et moi en apprenons beaucoup sur le pôle d'innovation et sur la meilleure façon de gérer un pôle.

Abdelsalam Safi, Founder and CEO, Wenak Lab

This year has been an amazing year despite the Global pandemic as we saw increased participation by our members in exploring all the opportunities provided to produce greater solutions to combat the notable challenges experienced during the course of the year. As a network, collaboration is a key factor we emphasize on, and having to see members collaborate towards ecosystem expansion and development through several projects and programmes has been satisfying. We look forward to developing the African ecosystem as a unified force for economic change.

Mara Zhanet Michelo, Founder and CEO, Jacaranda Hub, Zambia

Douar Tech was one of the first Moroccan hubs to join the AfriLabs Alliance. We're grateful to bring a North African contribution to this collective effort, to bring together the creative and entrepreneurial communities of the continent. Besides getting connected to peers from other hubs of the continent and bringing along projects to work on together, we are happy to participate in various programs the Alliance is setting up for the purpose of sharing knowledge and opportunities.

Kenechukwu C. Chukwu, Member Services Coordinator, AfriLabs

Hanae BEZAD, Founder, Douar Tech, Morocco

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


AfriLabs has grown in terms of our capacity and reach to enable us to expand to a wider community for more collaboration, networking, and development of the African tech ecosystem. How we grew this year

In 2020, we expanded every quadrimester

3rd quadrimester

September - December: 15 new hubs, 2 new cities and 1 new country

1 st

1st quadrimester

January - April: 28 new hubs, 8 new cities and 1 new country

3 rd

2nd quadrimester

May-August: 27 new hubs, 6 new cities and 1 new country

2 nd

Total number of new hubs admitted in

Total number of new

Total number of new

2020 70

countries in 2020t 3

cities in 2020 14

Our current number of members is 240 hubs with 256 centres in 107 cities and 48 countries across Africa

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact



Algeria 02

Morocco 06

Tunisia 02

Niger 01

Libya 01

Egypt 05

Gambia 02

Cape Verde 01

Chad 02

Senegal 04

Guinea Bissau 01

Sudan 02

Guinea 02

South Sudan 02

Mali 06

Sierra Leone 02

Djibouti 01

Burkina Faso 02

Ethiopia 04

Liberia 01

Burundi 01

Cote d'iviore 03

Rwanda 04

Nigeria 60

Togo 02

Ghana 16

Somaliland 02

Benin 04

Somalia 01

Kenya 27

Cameroon 13

Uganda 09

Gabon 01

Tanzania 09

DR Congo 05

Angola 01

Equatorial Guinea 01

Malawi 02

Mauritius 02

Namibia 01

Zambia 03

Madagascar 02


Zimbabwe 07

Mozambique 03

1-5 hubs

Botswana 03

6-13 hubs

Lesotho 01

South Africa 11


13-20 hubs

France 02



Over 20 hubs

The Largest Pan-African Network of Technology/Innovation Hubs in Africa

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact

Dreamers. “ partnerships. “

Our vision is a thriving innovation economy in Africa, driven by the power of our community, and we are happy that more hubs with the same purpose are joining us. The pandemic has affected businesses across the continent in a way nothing has done before, and collaboration through communities like ours is a right step in the right direction.

We are very excited to be part of the AfriLabs network. We believe this part - nership will create the necessary syner - gies to build the next generation of

Oscar A. NCHASO, Managing Director, Dreams Hub.

Anna Ekeledo, Executive Director, AfriLabs.

Joining AfriLabs, it is my expectation to be connected to the African network entrepreneurship and furthermore, maximize opportunities and establish

This is an exciting time for Afrilabs. The constant growth of our network speaks to the importance of community for the technology and innovation ecosystems across Africa. We are particularly thrilled to welcome Equatorial Guinea which was previously not represented within our membership. Our Catalyst program, which increases the pool of capital available to promising African growth-stage entrepreneurs and our capacity building program, both of which were launched late last year, will ensure that we continue to offer value to our over 200 member hubs.

Etelvino José Armando, Executive Director of IDC - Iniciativa para Democracia e Cidadania, Maputo/ Mozambique.

As TheNeoHub, we are excited to be part of the largest pan-African network of technology and innovation centres, AfriLabs. Being a member of this prestigious network will bring our hub closer to an integrated and prosperous future in innovation and technology fostered by open collaboration and growth in entrepreneurship. This opportunity will expand our network and co-creation across the continent.

Nekesa Were, Director of Strategy, AfriLabs.

Zindzi Letsididi, CEO, TheNeoHub.


Engaging our community

To design effective programmes that support our community, we frequently connect with them to understand their realities and get feedback so that we can plan the right interventions for them. Listening Tour Listening Tour The AfriLabs Listening Tour is a unique session organized to enable the Secretariat team to gain insights from members and also learn more about their experiences and expectations from the network. The Listening Tour was held from the 17th of August to the 28th of August 2020. With a total of 16 sessions, we had a turn-up of 72 members during the listening tour. Here is what our community told us about their current experience in a pandemic year. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their community, they noted the following:

Shortage of funds amongst member communities.

Reduction in administrative cost which led to the layoff of staff.

A Halt in physical activities due to the lockdown in various countries.

The decline in partnership and sponsorship of programs.

They put the following measures in place to overcome these challenges:

The digital transitioning of programs such as incubation & acceleration training, hackathons, and mentoring amongst others. Development of platforms such as Hagiga Wahid, Blue Messenger, and Rumour Verification Management System to help spread adequate awareness as regards the pandemic. Embarked on COVID-19 production of PPEs and relief materials to communities.

Renovation, relocation, and restructuring of workspace/coworking space.

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


AfriLabs Annual Gathering Meeting

Unlike the previous General Meetings, the 2020 AGM was held virtually via zoom on the 7th of October due to movement restrictions and health challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Notwithstanding, several discussions were held during the AGM which included;

The election of a new member of the AfriLabs Board (Takunda Chingonzo)

Approval of the Minutes of the 2019 General Assembly

Assessment of AfriLabs' achievements over the past year 2020 and the prospects for the future by the Board

Update on the AfriLabs 2020 Annual Gathering

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Hubs Achievements

Our member hubs across Africa showed resilence despite the pandemic. They made adaptations to their engagement methods and grew regardless of the impact of COVID-19. Here are some major announcements from our community that shone bright in a seemingly dark year.

Deario Mozambique - Modeling a framework out of past learning resources and offering accelerator services to banks as an agro-business. RLabs South Africa - Expansion of RLabs women program beyond South Africa. Mzuzu E-Hub Malawi - Fundraising through Public-Private Partnership Commission and World Bank (2years grant).

BongoHive Zambia - Learning webinars for startup communities in Zambia.

HiveColab Uganda - Embarked on Covid-19 relief projects to help the communities.

Ventures Platform Nigeria - Organized the COVID-19 Innovation Challenge

Jokkolabs Gambia - A monthly pre-incubation program for startups (virtual) on digital marketing, project management, mobilizing resources, and coding for business. Online learning activities. Setup ICT taskforce of covid-19 to support ICTs, government, and frontline workers.

Buni Hub Tanzania - Virtual training and hackathons.

Jacaranda Hub Zambia - Created a one-quarter fund to support early-stage viable startups. Impact Lab Morrocco - Provide a new digital program for entrepreneurs across Africa. Ennovate Hub Tanzania - Expanded to a new city and launched a venture fund

The District Egypt - Implementors of the Rollo Africa project.

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


How we responded to COVID-19

Most of Africa started shutting down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the entire continent, including the innovation ecosystem, felt the economic and psychological fallouts that followed. Many jobs were lost as many businesses struggled to stay afloat. This gave rise to a few premeditated and mostly reactionary responses by governments, corporate organisations and international bodies to cushion the effect of the lockdowns. From ‘virtually everything’ to mobilizing resources with our partners for the ecosystem

At AfriLabs, we immediately moved all our planned programmes and activities online. This included our ongoing Capacity Building Programme and Annual Gathering. Next, we started mapping our innovation responses and interventions to the COVID-19 pandemic, building a database that allowed the entire ecosystem add and/or access COVID-19 information, opportunities and innovation across the continent. We called this platform covidtech.africa. Mapping of the African Ecosystem response to the COVID-19 pandemic Covidtech.Africa

The entire Africa and even the world has not in over 100 years had to pause everything for months. These are unprecedented times caused by the impact of the pandemic and we have to support each other with resources and information, especially entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs across the continent; that’s why we built covidtech.africa.

Joshua Omena .A. Communications Lead, AfriLabs

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


We organised two panel sessions in French and English where seasoned hub managers shared insights on the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and how hubs can reinvent the wheel so that they not only survive these challenges but also come out sustainable and more goal-driven. Having candid conversations on how to navigate the new reality brought about by the pandemic. Dialogue Series

This was such an insightful event for our Hubs and members of our community. It was such an important time for our Ecosystem to rally around each other as the world as we knew it was facing unprecedented challenges with the COVID- 19 pandemic. Our Hubs left this event encouraged and with better ideas on how to keep thriving throughout the pandemic. The learning experience from this event was immense as it was raw practical advice from Hubs leaders within all the African Regions discussing situations peculiar to their regions and unique problem areas.

The impact of this session has been positive for our hub. At the end of this webinar, we were able to learn about new work approaches and income models that allowed us to continue our activities despite the difficulties linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. It allowed us to adjust our business model and more precisely to innovate in terms of the value proposition and the acquisition & conversion channels.

Ibrahima Kalil Kaba, Managing partner, Trustees.

what adds value. “ Khalid Mohamed Ali, Co-Founder/ChairPerson, ImpactHub Khartoum Sudan

Jennifer Okeke-Ojiudu, Event Coordinator, AfriLabs.

We need to unlearn what we have learnt as Hubs are treading in uncharted territories and we must not recycle old solutions. Now is the time to immerse what the new reality is, we must focus on

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


The pandemic has created an avenue for hubs to play a mediating role between the Government and the community as opposed to just getting support. Hubs now have the opportunity to bridge the gap between innovators and the Government. “

Ça été plaisir de modérer la 1ère édition de l'AfriLabs Dialogue Serie, en Français. Permettre à la communauté francophone d'AfriLabs de partager leur expertise tout en demontrant leur résilience, malgré les défis et le COVID-19, a été un signal fort de motivation et d'optimisme pour nos écosystèmes Tech en Afrique.

Kola Aina, Founding Partner, Ventures Platform Nigeria.

Elodie NONGA, Founder of WETECH (Women in Entrepreneurship and Technology)



226 attendees from across Africa participated in the English session

66 attendees from across Africa participated in the French session

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


COVIDaction is a partnership led by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)’s Frontier Technology Hub along with other collaborators including AfriLabs to build a technology and innovation pipeline to support activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, the consortium scans the globe for promising ideas, evaluates and makes sense of what is found, then supports the best ideas with grant funding and venture support, and share what is learned along the way. COVIDaction identified four key thematic areas to work across that have emerged through consultation with investors, entrepreneurs, and networks across Africa and South Asia. They are: Building a technology and innovation pipeline for the COVID-19 pandemic COVIDaction Local Production & Local Solutions (LPLS): crowdsourcing and mapping innovative responses to dealing with the demand for unavailable goods and personal protective equipment. Data: sources, collection tools, and analysis to inform the response and pandemic decision-making. Resilient Health Systems (RHS): technologies that extend the reach, coordination, and/or continuity of medical support between hospitals, clinics, communities, and households.

We at AfriLabs played major roles in the Local Production Local Solution thematic area. We leveraged our community members as local scouts for informal COVID-19 innovation productions in different African countries and also helped in the judging process of the applications.

Learn more about COVIDaction at https://medium.com/covidaction/

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


12 investments across 4 areas: responsible data, epi models, data analytics platforms, and sources and collection tools

Strategic partnership with GPSDD allowed us to introduce data grantees to National Statistics Offices (Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, etc. ) and Africa CDC

Co-funding and investments from USAID’s DATA.FI programme

7 Investments to date across the circular supply chain, cross-scale and cross-sector

AfriLabs scouting offline makerspaces, informal groups and local communities normally not reached with digital open calls

Building a visual map of production with the submissions received and other sources to enable more distributed

Local Production and Local Solutions

Resilient Health Systems

Women-led: 8 organisations/partnerships with women in leadership positions on the proposed implementation team Boots on the ground: 5 locally owned organisations/partnerships and 4 partnerships between the global north and global south organisations

Tried and tested solutions, and in most cases, with evidence of scale

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


The AfriLabs Team has a wealth of experience and knowledge in open innovation and informal community development. We are extremely fortunate to be able to collaborate with them on the COVIDaction Program. “

AfriLabs is a COVIDaction strategic partner and an integral part of the team. AfriLabs was chosen as a partner on this program as a result of the organisation’s wide network, support structures and impressive track record in the development of innovation in Africa. Involvement in this program allows AfriLabs to support the development of the technology and innovation ecosystems during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ramon Michael, Innovation Consultant, Brink.

Alex Losneanu, Innovation Lead, Brink.

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Rapid Analysis of Innovation Response to COVID-19 Pandemic (Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa) Impact Report

Understanding the impact of COVID-19 for future interventions

AfriLabs in partnership with the KTN Global Alliance Africa worked on a rapid analysis of challenges, impact and innovation response to COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, with a focus on Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. The analysis aimed to inform intending support from the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) - formerly DFID and the KTN Global Alliance Africa to innovation systems in Africa to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to provide lessons and best practices to strengthen the innovation response to future crises.


Key stakeholders interviewed across Africa

Access the reports at www.afrilabs.com/news

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


The Rapid Analysis of Innovation Response to COVID-19 Pandemic (Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa) came in handy to provide insight and a better understanding of Africa's innovation response to the pandemic. This insight is key in informing the right support necessary for fueling innovation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as inform the relevant support needed for the ecosystem to build resilience against future crises. AfriLabs is happy that the findings and recommendations from the Analysis had guided the initial design and development of the GAA’s activities for the year 2021 to support the African innovation ecosystem.

When KTN’s Global Alliance Africa (GAA) pivoted its activities to meet the challenges of the upcoming pandemic, they contracted AfriLabs to provide a rapid analysis of the innovation ecosystem responses to Covid-19 in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. In addition to the report, blogs, and slide handouts being interesting and insightful outputs in their own right, key recommendations made in the report were heavily utilised in the initial design and development of the GAA’s core activities for the next year (2021). With GAA’s objective to support capacity building and resiliency in African innovation ecosystems, AfriLabs has been a key collaborator and valued source of knowledge and expertise. Overall, KTN had a very positive experience working with AfriLabs and look forward to continued collaboration going forward.

Patrick Ashu, Programmes Officer, AfriLabs.

Andrea Wyers, Knowledge Transfer Manager - Global Alliance Africa.

99 stakeholders of the African innovation ecosystem engaged during a one-month quantitative data collection which was conducted online and was targeted at multiple sources including AfriLabs, Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) South Africa, partners, organizations, governments, entrepreneurs, innovation hubs and their communities innovators across Africa.

Insightful Report as well as Blog Posts and Handouts produced for individual focus countries (Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa).

Twenty-four (24) V with focus on Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact

AfriLabs Team based in Abuja Other team members in Nairobi, Accra and Cape Town


Rollo Africa

Supporting small businesses in Africa through the pandemic while equipping the ecosystem with knowledge for the future

African Entrepreneurship Ecosystem and African Small and Micro businesses have grown fast in the last decade in many industries. However, the support system models for small businesses have been always inspired and developed from outside the continent like coworking spaces, incubators, hackathons, and accelerators which normally address and fit only formal businesses that have a different level of maturity, different macro and micro-economics and different market outlooks and different investments needs. African informal businesses need a new model that respects the local context, level of maturity, background and local education, growth of a business, and response to local risk and crises. This was clear when the Covid-19 pandemic hit Small African Businesses. Supported by AfriLabs, UNDP and the African Union, Rollo is a business simulation program dedicated to inspiring and supporting small African enterprises facing challenges after the COVID-19 outbreak. It is composed of three intensive simulation days in which enterprises learn to manage and operate in a competitive environment within different market outlooks. In conjunction with selected AfriLabs member hubs (JokkoLabs, ActivSpaces, Kmt House, Savannah and izone hub), we started with bootcamps in 5 different African Countries namely: Cameroon, Egypt, Senegal, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Each bootcamp is composed of 20 participants divided into 5 teams. Each team is made up of 4 entrepreneurs who work together for 3 intensive days and share best practices and knowledge in a specific industry like retail, service, hospitality, manufacturing..etc. Participants will take virtual business decisions in Strategy, Marketing, Pricing, Sales, Operations and analyze their market shares, profitabilities and revenues based on their decisions, market outlooks and their competitor’s behaviours. As at the time of writing this report, these boot camps are still ongoing in various countries.

Learn more about Rollo Africa at www.rolloafrica.com


Countries that participated

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Zayed Sustainability Prize

We partnered with Djembe Consultants, the media agency promoting the Zayed Sustainability Prize in Africa to give the 2020 edition more visibility and to encourage our community to apply. We organised a webinar and Nekesa Were spoke about the role of innovation hubs in developing Africa and a previous winner of the Zayed Sustainability Prize spoke on how to successfully apply for the prestigious prize.

Over 10,000 members of the African Tech Ecosystem got to know about the 2020 edition of the ZSP Over 25% of them interacted with the communication materials and took action Over 1,000 link clicks to either the webinar registration page or the ZSP website We had over 110 attendees at the ZSP webinar, organised by AfriLabs and Djembe As a result of this partnership, the ZSP recorded over 700 700 completed applications from Africa.

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


The EdTech Hub

Powering education with technology

EdTech Hub is a global research partnership between The University of Cambridge, Overseas Development Institute, Results for Development, Brink, Jigsaw, Open Development and Education, INJINI, e-Learning Africa, AfriLabs and BRAC. The goal of the hub is to empower people making decisions about technology in education. In April 2020, AfriLabs led an EdTech Hub global call for ideas to respond to the learning emergency caused by Covid-19 school closures. We reviewed 371 applications, hosted 5 pitch days, selected innovations to feature in our virtual sandboxes and learned a lot in the process. Using innovation sandboxes, we try to make sense of the enabling environment; the whole system in which a certain EdTech intervention exists. This includes the interventions design, manufacturing, route-to-market, distribution, financing, user adoption and more. In Uganda, EdTech Hub is working with Mango Tree Literacy Lab, one of the sandboxes in our portfolio, and in partnership with District Local Governments, primary schools, parents and communities, to implement Interactive Radio Instruction in response to COVID-19 challenges. We tested the effectiveness of adding human infrastructures and supplementary learning materials to radio as a medium of instruction. We did this by providing hour-long learning instructions to listening centres (that accommodates 10 kids each) over the radio for 2 sprints of six weeks each, and we had older siblings, teachers and parents act as facilitators of the radio sessions.

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Testing ideas in a sandbox helped improve my understanding of edtech challenges and I enjoy knowing that what I do, in some way, is improving access to education for marginalized people. “

Taiye Salami, Sandbox Co-lead and Programme Associate, AfriLabs

African environment. “ Craig Esbeck, Director Mango Tree Learning Lab

Number of participants:

Over 1000 people

The sandbox experience has given us a safe space to experiment with our ideas about improving radio education pedagogy in a rural

The sandbox process has been both challenging and exciting, helping us engage in a weekly cycle of evidence gathering, reflection, and improvement. Working with other experts through the Hub has introduced us to a new global community of innovators that we're proud to be part of.

Funds Disbursed:

300,000 GBP (50,000 GBP for each of the six sandboxes in our portfolio)

Victoria Brown, Education, M&E, Development Consultant

Learn more about The EdTech Hub at www.edtechhub.org

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Djembe Insight Report AfriLabs, the largest pan-African network of technology and innovation centres in partnership with Djembe Consultants, the award-winning Africa-focused communications consultancy, launched an Insights Report during the 2020 AfriLabs Annual Gathering. The report assesses the impact of COVID-19 on the continent’s young innovators and entrepreneurs and provides perspectives from industry experts as to how African decisionmakers from both the public and private sectors can accelerate support across the full innovation spectrum including education, inclusivity, investment, policy and research and development.

Access the report at bit.ly/AfriLabsDjembeInsightReport

ahead. “

The continent’s survival DNA, always durable to internal and external shocks of all shapes and forms, proves a resilience in its youthful demographic, one that is constantly creating, innovating, and looking

The Insights Report reaffirms our strongly held belief that the African innovation ecosystem is singularly the most important enabler of widespread socio-economic development. Despite the innate resilience African innovators and SMEs have shown during this challenging year, this ecosystem urgently needs further intervention of policymakers and industry supporters to create a more conducive environment for innovators and SMEs to survive and thrive. While the uncertainties of COVID-19 continue to threaten economic stability and growth, future economic prosperity can be greatly enhanced by nurturing the African innovation spirit to prepare the continent for incredible success, just when it needs it most.

Anna Ekeledo, Executive Director, AfriLabs

Partnering with AfriLabs on the Djembe Insights report was an incredibly impactful collaboration. The team’s passion and expertise for innovation in Africa was an integral part of our campaigns and we look forward to more shared success soon.

Mitchell Prather, Chief Executive Officer, Djembe Consultants

James Deacon, Account Director, Djembe Consultants

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Key highlights from the report

Strengthening Policy Development to Encourage R&D and Innovation

Scaling Homegrown Innovations Beyond Borders

Majority of the entrepreneurs (90%) are likely to need to or be able to scale their business in the wake of COVID-19


Investor funding is the number one issue governments must address to build innovation resilience. This is followed by fostering entrepreneurship and eradicating corruption

The highest number of respondents (23%) are entrepreneurs from the agriculture sector.


74% say they are currently exploring the possibility of entering international markets


Driving Innovation Inclusivity – Women, Youth, and Informal Markets

51% indicate that while they are aware of state support, they find this support to be inadequate in meeting their current business scaling needs



Majority of entrepreneurs 45% feel that the creation of expanded market opportunities for homegrown businesses is the main key driver of innovation inclusivity. This is followed by the provision of support services and the curation of capacity development programs to address the unique challenges of operating in the informal markets are key to driving innovation inclusivity on the continent

Majority of innovators and startups (42%) see innovation hubs as potential platforms to access funding, followed by networking opportunities, capacity building and R&D



A high proportion of respondents (41%) do not feel there is enough support from the private and public sector to drive greater inclusivity within hubs and the wider

innovation ecosystem

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Mozilla Roundtables

AfriLabs partnered with internet giant Mozilla to convene roundtable discussions with African startups, entrepreneurs, developers and innovators. These roundtable discussions focussed on understanding the local needs, expertise and capabilities of African countries and explored under-served issues and areas that could spur the next generation of innovation in the region. AfriLabs partnership with Mozilla brings together two organisations committed to supporting communities of technologists by putting people first. The partnership will help develop more relevant, sustainable support for African innovators to build scalable resilient products, leveraging honest and candid discussions to identify areas of common interest. Mozilla launched exploratory research in the form of round table discussions to better understand the ecosystem, explore and identify new product ideas that solve real-life issues. The discussions were hosted as part of Mozilla’s efforts to reinvest within the African tech ecosystem and support local innovators with scalable ideas that have the potential to impact across the continent. and AfriLabs

“Mozilla is working with AfriLabs as the aggregator of Tech hubs to come up and identify real life problems that are plaguing the continent and develop real life solutions developed by Africans for Africans not by other people. This will help us learn more about the intersection of African product needs and capacity gaps and to co-create value with local entrepreneurs”

Alice Munyua, Director, Africa Innovation and ublic policy program at Mozilla

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Building capacity in a pandemic

One of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is how it threatened growth and attempted to halt learning activities. Thanks to virtual technology, we moved all our workshops online and gave out funds to our community for diverse initiatives aimed at mitigating the effects of the pandemic in the African Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.

The AfriLabs Capacity Building Programme (ACBP) is a 36 months intensive capacity building programme for African Enterprise Support Organizations (ESOs), implemented across Africa thanks to Agence Française de Développement’s (AFD) support through the Digital Africa seed fund. The core objective of the programme is to build the capacity of African tech hubs to support the scaling and building of investment-ready startups across Africa, thereby strengthening the ecosystem in general. Some of our partners include Strathmore University, African Business Angels Network (ABAN) and Afric'innov. Activities like Hubs Learning Week, Capacity Building Awards, Virtual Meetup Grants and others are all a part of the ACBP, with a singular objective of supporting hubs so that they can attract investments and run local and regional impact-driven programmes that will support entrepreneurs and startups. Empowering African Hubs to build a thriving innovation economy in the continent AfriLabs Capacity Building Programme

Learn more about the AfriLabs Capacity Building Programme at www.afrilabs-capacity.com

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Every activity under the AfriLabs Capacity Building Program is geared towards building successful and investment-ready hubs and their start-ups through effective teaching, funding and mentoring. “

“The AfriLabs Capacity Building Program has identified the need to create more female-focused investor communities where women are fully supported in accessing business development tools, financing support and mentoring for their ventures which ultimately creates a gender-inclusive ecosystem.

Temitope Isedowo, Director of Programmes, AfriLabs

Nanko Madu, Senior Programmes Manager and Project Lead ACBP, AfriLabs

Activities powered by the AfriLabs CBP in 2020

Needs assessment and report

Curriculum and courses/ workshops/training content development + HIR design

Toolkits development and hub profiling

Content certification

Content curation for virtual and physical capacity building

Virtual and physical capacity building

Quarterly hubs learning week

Capacity Building award Ceremony

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Needs Assessment Report

Trends and insights from ESOs, entrepreneurs, and investors

This report uncovers the needs of ESOs, entrepreneurs and investors, as well as share emerging best practices and strategies to meet them. By highlighting key gaps, this report presents salient considerations. The needs assessment comprises analyzing quantitative and qualitative data collected from ESOs, entrepreneurs and investors through surveys and focus groups. The report was commissioned by AfriLabs under the AfriLabs Capacity Building Programme. Our partner, the African Business Angel Network (ABAN) carried out the data collection for investors.

Some key findings from the report include:

ESOs and entrepreneurs are paying more attention to skills development and seeing it as a vital component to their success: ESOs are particularly interested in knowing how to fundraise with foundations and donors; how to create, develop and track KPIs; how to communicate and reach out to entrepreneurs; and how to manage mentors/advisors, trainers and coaches. ESOs and entrepreneurs increasingly recognize the importance of mentorship and coaching for their ventures’ growth and prospects. Venture success implies much more than the availability of skills and financing. It is predicated on building a trusting relationship between entrepreneurs and investors. Investors want more collaboration and alignment with ESOs and entrepreneurs. This will require significant efforts from both parties. Women are under-represented among the population of ESOs, entrepreneurs, and investors. Women constitute only 29% of entrepreneurs, 30% of ESO founders, and 25% of investors. These statistics throw into light the gap between women and men in the African innovation ecosystem.

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


AfriLabs Hubs Learning Week

Trends and insights from ESOs, entrepreneurs, and investors

The AfriLabs Hubs Learning week is a series of capacity building virtual workshops that empowers innovation hub managers, and staff with requisite/formal incubation management training and skills needed to start, operate and expand hubs/innovation centres in Africa. The virtual capacity building workshop is part of the AfriLabs Capacity Building Programme (ACBP) which is a 36-month intensive capacity building programme for hubs, funded by the Agence Française de Développement. During the year, the 1st, 2nd, and the Special Edition of the learning week were held.

22 topics were delivered

1,587 participants from over 37 countries and the 5 regions in Africa were in attendance.

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


programmes that we run “ Francis Omorojie, Ennovate Hub, Tanzania.

During the 2020 AfriLabs Hubs Learning Week Special Edition, I was able to identify some skills that could be implemented in Dreams Hub, as a young Hub in our ecosystem. As Dreamers who strongly believe every dream is achievable, we understand the unavoidable need of contributing to accelerating the tech & innovation industry with sustainable business models. The cooperation within AfriLabs is a great resource for us. We congratulate all the AfriLabbers!

Being a part of the Hubs Learning week has helped us learn to embed sustainability into our operations and improve the delivery framework of the startup

Celia N. Programme Officer, Dreams Hub.

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Meetup Grants

After every Hubs Learning Week, we make a call for grant applications to AfriLabs members that participated to host Meetups on COVID-19, the SDGs and other relevant themes.

27 applicants from 11 countries across all the regions in Africa

6 winners from Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana and Madagascar

Meetup Grants

2,000 Euros for each winner puts the total at 12,000 Euros

communities and groups “

TechQuest has been a beneficiary of the AfriLabs Capacity Building Program Virtual Meetup Grant and this has helped to support our bringing together of industry professionals and the government in discussing how to leverage Education Technology for underserved

Itoro Emembolu, Director, TechQuest STEM Academy, Nigeria.

2020: A Resilient Africa: An annual report of AfriLabs impact


Projects under the AfriLabs Virtual Meetup Grants

Summary of the project

A 17-part web series on the Sustainable Development Goals, that addressed the SDGs and COVID-19. 17 experts from the private sector as well as government shared their knowledge on the various SDGs and highlights on the goals, Zambia’s position/ranking, existing challenges with achieving each goal. At the beginning and end of every session, a selected healthcare professional addressed the escalating novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by sharing an overview of the current situation at the national level (as presented by the WHO and Ministry of Health of the Republic of Zambia), as well as small and large scale interventions taking place across the globe to fight the pandemic and deliver value for communities. The Virtual SDG Meetup was organized as part of the #Innovation4Future Startup Webinar Series. The meetup happened in 2 series; the first series was a virtual workshop that was facilitated by company builders, investors and developmental organizations that are working directly with the SDGs and the second series was a hackathon, where participating start-ups worked in groups to design tech-driven solutions around the discussion SDGs during the workshop. The winning group were awarded a mini-grant. In regards to this virtual meetup, the focus was on SDG 3, SDG 8, SDG 17 and COVID-19. An online meet-up for interactive discussions on how to provide innovative solutions that can leverage digital technologies particularly for teachers and possibly parents particularly during and post the current pandemic. The meet-up also provided a means to improve the digital literacy of these groups to enable them to function in a rapidly changing technological age (consistent with SDG 4.4.1 on relevant skills and lifelong learning. This webinar was the first in the EdTech low-income schools series, where presenters gave concrete examples of uses of educational technologies in low-income schools, and low-cost implementation strategies to use Tech to continue education for the underserved. Current effects and challenges faced due to the pandemic were also discussed. Virtual SGD meetups with key stakeholders (a network of climate change advocates, startups, innovators and hubs). The key outcome of these SDG meetups was the development of a strategic climate and sustainability digital campaign around WASH campaigns in light of COVID-19. The meetups specifically addressed SDGs Goal 3 – Good Health and Well Being; Goal 4 – Quality Education; Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation; Goal 17 – Partnership for the goals. This also aligns with globally recognized COVID-19 preventive measures such as regular hand washing, use of alcohol-based sanitisers and general hygienic practices. The project empowered deaf and dumb persons with entrepreneurship, health and leadership education and brought innovators together to brainstorm new ideas and generate solutions to basic social integration challenges of deaf and dumb persons. The meetup focussed on SDG goals 4,8,10,11 & 17 with emphasis on Goal 10 which is Reduced inequality within among countries. Disability is referenced in various parts of the SDGs and specifically in parts related to education, growth and employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and monitoring of the SDGs. The deaf and dumb state of existence has been made far worse with the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and this project attempted to change the narrative starting those located within the Western Region of Ghana. The virtual meetup was done in collaboration with the Western Region Association of Deaf and Dumb, University of Mines and Technology and Ghana Hubs Network.

BongoHive Zambia

Ennovate Hub Tanzania

TechQuest STEM Academy Nigeria

Clean Technology Hub Nigeria

Tarkwa Entrepreneurship Development Hub Ghana

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