Building a Resilient Innovative Africa in a COVID-19 world

The year 2020 has been an interesting one globally. World economies were practicallybrought to a standstill due to the sudden and unexpected COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, the backbones of economies, the micro and small-to-mediumenterprises, were hardest hit. InAfrica, this ismainly the informal sector, which represents up to 90% of some African economies. Amidst the bleak outlook however comes hope and positivity, driven largely by the continent’s survival DNA, always resilient to internal and external shocks of all shapes and forms. Behind this resilience is the continent’s youthful demographic, one that is constantly creating, innovating, and looking ahead. Despite the turmoil, many African innovators have risen to the challenge to become part of the continent’s COVID-19 solution. Many innovators and entrepreneurs have rapidly evolved their business models towards greater online sales, diverse delivery methods, digital alternatives and solutions to help fight the virus and its impact. We have also seen policymakers and governments step up to varying degrees across the continent, with a vast range of emergency measures and solutions, from soft loans to lowering of interest rates. There is however much more to be done in terms of driving innovation inclusivity on the continent. From securing access to data, to reimagining education, investing in R&D, and scaling African entrepreneurs beyond borders, Africamust stay focused. Nowmore than ever, engagingAfricans to speak with one voice on building a resilient and innovative Africa is paramount in the quest to realize both the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union Agenda 2063, while embracing the impending single market that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will give rise to. This Insights Report, ‘Building a Resilient Innovative Africa,’ in collaboration with Djembe Consultants, is a tribute to the continent’s innovation spirit and youthful ingenuity. It offers a collection of rich perspectives from leading African-focused development institutions, innovations hubs, private sector enablers, role models and more who speak with one voice in support of Africa’s youth, entrepreneurs, and innovators. It offers workable actions that African leaders can adopt to steer the continent on the path to transformation. AfriLabs takes this opportunity to recognize the hardship that many Africans have faced in recent times, but we also invite Africans of all creeds to keep looking forward and be a part of the journey to a resilient, innovative Africa.

Anna Ekeledo Executive Director, AfriLabs


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