Sub-Saharan Africa is set to grow by 5% in 2012. As Africa’s population becomes increasingly educated and affluent, the global business community is looking to capitalize on this increase in human and financial resources. There appears to be a new optimism for future economic prospects for Africa and hence a fresh interest in the technology sector, as highlighted by Intel Capital’s recent move: The potential for growth in the technology value chain is material, given Africa has about 15% of the world’s population, but only about 2% personal computer users. The reason [we] invest in technological innovation is because, in the long run, it is beneficial if a country has a vibrant technology ecosystem.
Real startups are being created in Africa, developing real-world solutions, worthy of investment and global attention. In recognition of Africa’s economic emergence, the U.S. Department of State, in collaboration with Microsoft, DEMO, USAID, and Startup Weekend, is launching the Liberalizing Innovation Opportunity Nations (LIONS@FRICA) Partnership, a new public-private alliance to enhance and deepen the startup and innovation ecosystems of targeted fast- growing African economies.
DEMO Africa is one of the flagship initiatives of LIONS@frica and aims to connect African startups to the global ecosystem. DEMO Africa will be the place where the most innovative companies from African countries come to launch their products and announce to Africa and the world what they have developed. The GIST Startup Boot Camp Senegal (and potentially other African nations) will serve as an initial capacity-building effort to identify, vet, and train promising technology-based startups.
As the base of the LIONS@FRICA partnership, GIST will create a pipeline to inject the best ventures into the DEMO Africa and prepare entrepreneurs to maximize the benefit of the DEMO process. DEMO Africa will showcase products across five core categories including consumer electronics/applications, cloud computing solutions, mobile technology, social media and enterprise systems. DEMO will discover hard-to-define products that represent new categories and trends. DEMO Africa will also provide scholarships for young startups to deliver Alpha Pitches on stage typically these are pre-revenue student startups.