African Influencers for Development rally behind continent’s largest initiative to support innovation ecosystem

April 28, 2024

Members of the African Influencers for Development in a group photo at the 2024 Annual Retreat in Cape Town.

Photo @Oluwagbemisola Fagbemi /UNDP

African Influencers for Development (AI4Dev), a powerful coalition of African leaders in business, academia & arts, pledged massive support for timbuktoo at their annual meeting in Cape Town, to spark a start-up revolution in Africa.  


timbuktoo is a bold initiative supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to unlock catalytic and commercial capital supporting African innovators to drive economic growth through a tech – enabled industry expansion.  

Give us responsibilities. We are ready to bring our networks on board to execute timbuktoo”, noted H.E Tigui Camara, CEO of Tigui Mining and a member of the African Influencers for Development group.

This year’s annual meeting of the African Influencers for Development focused on leaping forward timbuktoo execution.

timbuktoo has the support of Africa’s governments and private sector.  We have the right frame to accelerate Africa’s development”, stated Natalie Jabangwe, Ad Interim Executive Secretary of timbuktoo Africa Innovation Foundation and a member of African Influencers for Development Super Group. 

The discussions at the Annual Meeting centered on unlocking public-private capital and philanthropic financing to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship among Africa's youth.

Africa’s power lies in partnerships and timbuktoo will bring together its youthful talents in a tech-enabled development partnership for the one African market opportunity under the AfCFTA”, said Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa.  

timbuktoo’s mission is to build strategic pan-African innovation hubs in selected cities across Africa as a world class one stop shop in ecosystem and venture building in areas like FinTech, EdTech, MineTech, AgriTech, Creatives, SmartCities, TradeTech, and GreenTech. In 2024, at least three Hubs will come on stream – starting with FinTech in Lagos, HealthTech in Kigali and AgriTech in Accra. ManuTech in Ethiopia is also being considered.

In addition to the hubs, timbuktoo is empowering African Universities with equipment to bridge the gap between innovation-based research and development and industry application, through University Innovation Pods (UniPods). So far, 13 Unipods are set up in Benin, Guinea, Liberia, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi, Mauritania, Rwanda, Uganda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Togo, and Zambia. Five more are planned for 2024 (Botswana, Gabon, Gambia, Burundi and Burkina Faso). The timbuktoo Africa Innovation Foundation has also been set up to oversee timbuktoo fund management and offer operational support to the Foundation, and its assets.

At the Annual Meeting, members of the African Influencers for Development were assigned to lead on the execution of each of the timbuktoo thematic hubs to mobilize resources from their networks. Dr. Edem Adzogenu for HealthTech; Tiguidanke Camara on MineTech; Kunle Adeyemi for SmartCities; Jaswinder Bedi and Bethlehem Tilahun for ManuTech; Natalie Jabangwe for Creatives Tech, Tadesse Admassu for Green Tech. This will facilitate timbuktoo’s drive to empower African youth to lead the fourth industrial revolution and create jobs for communities at scale.

The Guardian of the timbuktoo Africa Innovation Foundation, Professor Yemi Osinbajo - Immediate past Vice President of Nigeria – also graced the annual meeting, sharing his wisdom on how to invest for Africa’s youth and their innovation ventures.

I am proud of the impact of the African Influencers for Development. They are an important part of the solutions to break the development gridlock our world faces today”, said Ahunna Eziakonwa. 



For media enquiry, please contact:

Ms. Praise Nutakor, Partnerships and Communications Specialist at UNDP @