Conference Report: African Women and Youth as Agents of Change through Technology and Innovation

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On May 1, 2013, the Africa Program and the Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity (Leadership Project) at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Wilson Center) sought to highlight some of the exciting developments by women and youth in Africa utilizing technology and social innovations to tackle every day issues. In collaboration with several other Wilson Center programs and the Kenyan-based African Technology Policy Studies Network, The Africa Program and Leadership Project hosted an international conference titled, “African Women and Youth as Agents of Change through Technology and Innovation.”

Investments in science, technology and innovation are becoming increasingly critical for sustainable development, particularly in Africa. New generations of women and youth leaders throughout the continent are developing innovative strategies and solutions using new technologies that will help overcome daily issues on both local and national levels. According to a World Bank report published in 2012, women and girls account for 50.01 percent of the total population in sub-Saharan Africa . The African Union Commission (AUC) Youth Division estimates that approximately 65 percent of the total population is below the age of 35 years, and over 35 percent are between the ages of 15 and 35 years, making Africa the most youthful continent in the world. By 2020, the AUC projects that out of every four people, three will be 20 years old on average. Compound these statistics with the fact that about ten million African youth join the labor market each year.

Another promising development is the concept of “Technology Hubs,” centers that create new spaces for collaboration, innovation, and training for Africa’s youth and female populations. Several hubs have emerged over the past couple of years, iHub and NaiLab in Kenya, Hive CoLab and AppLab in Uganda, Activspaces in Cameroon, BantaLabs in Senegal, Kinu in Tanzania, and several others in South Africa.

Given the rapid growth in technology use and the demographic breakdown and projections on the continent, it is clear that African youth and women have tremendous innovation capacities yet to be fully harnessed for sustainable development throughout Africa. Please click on the link below to download the full pdf of the report.

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Experts & Staff