IDRC Forum - Opportunity calls: Booming innovation in Africa

Source: IDRC Forum - Opportunity calls: Booming innovation...

11/06/2014, Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, 900 René Lévesque Blvd. W., Montreal, Quebec: Register

The International Economic Forum of the Americas (Conférence de Montréal): IDRC Forum on Wednesday, June 11, 2014: 10:30 a.m. to noon

Opportunity calls: Booming innovation in Africa

With weak economic outlooks in industrialized economies, the next stage of growth will depend on trade with developing countries. And the next frontier for trade is Africa, whose economic growth has surpassed that of industrialized countries over the past few years. Trade between China and Africa rose from $10 billion to $170 billion over the last decade.

While much of Africa’s historic and recent growth has been based on the export of natural resources, opportunities for enhanced collaboration with the continent are growing as Africa increases its investment in science and innovation. For example, Africa is building the world’s largest radio telescope. Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa have recently performed well on innovation indices. Starting a business in Rwanda is easier than in Switzerland, Sweden, or Singapore.

In addition, new agencies that fund or catalyze innovation are emerging. For example, iHub in Nairobi, a technology business incubator, has spawned more than 150 companies in three years. It was named one of 2014’s most innovative companies by Fast Company. The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences is providing world class training to the best students across the continent. The goal: finding the next Einstein in Africa.

However, a number of constraints to growth remain, including poor knowledge about local needs, weak science and technology capacity, and lack of collaboration between African countries.

Growing opportunities to collaborate

The ongoing transformation offers opportunities to universities, granting councils, and the private sector from industrialized countries to collaborate with African countries for mutual benefit. It offers opportunities for industrialized countries to secure their prosperity by helping develop strong partners with whom they can innovate and trade. Collaboration is also a good way to enhance synergies between the development, trade, and diplomacy aspects of foreign policy.

Panelists will describe promising investments in innovation in Africa, how advanced skills training can further propel Africa’s economy, and opportunities for collaboration to enhance innovation, trade, and development.


  • Prof. Johann Mouton, Director, Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Thierry Zomahoun, Executive Director, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, South Africa
  • Juliana Rotich, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Ushahidi Inc, Kenya


  • Naser Faruqui, Director, Science and Innovation, International Development Research Centre, Canada

Opening Remarks

  • Jean Lebel, President, International Development Research Centre, Canada


IDRC has limited amount of free registration passes. The pass gives you access to all activities taking place on June 11th, including the breakfasts, lunch and the reception. To obtain a free pass please register. F​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​rench and English simultaneous interpretation will be available. Read the speakers' biographies. The Conference's full program can be found at