Strengthening the case for timbuktoo in Addis

April 25, 2024

Heading into the timbuktoo event at the Science Museum in Addis Ababa - UNDP RBA Director Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa is accompanied by the State Minister for Innovation Dr Bayissa Bedada (center) and UNDP Ethiopia Resident Representative Mr Samuel G Doe

Addis Ababa, 25 April 2024- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has initiated discussions to officially bring the ‘timbuktoo initiative’ to Ethiopia.

A high-level event co-organized by the Ethiopia StartUp initiative, on the sidelines of the Startup Ethiopia exhibition at the Science Museum in Addis, brought together UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa’s Director, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, members of the Ministerial Committee for Startup Ethiopia and stakeholders in the Ethiopia startup ecosystem. The dialogue focused on unpacking the timbuktoo initiative for the Ethiopian audience, understanding where the country’s startup ecosystem is, and discussing how Ethiopia could contribute and also benefit from the continental initiative.

UNDP Africa Regional Director in discussions with Dr Belete Molla and Dr Bayissa Bedada (Minister and State Minister respectively of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology), Dr Brook Taye (Director General of the Ethiopian Capital Markets Authority) and Dr Hassen Hussein (Director General of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute). UNDP Ethiopia Resident Representative Mr Samuel Doe and UNDP Africa Regional Streategy Advisor Dr Joy Kategekwa were also present.

In January 2024, timbuktoo was launched in Davos on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum as an ambitious pan-African innovative initiative to support Africa’s startup ecosystem and bring ideas into disruptive solutions on the ground.  

“We have to do a readiness assessment, but it is already clear that Ethiopia has shown a strong promise in terms of commitment, space, and talent pool, to make us start to explore how to conceptualise the timbuktoo initiative for Addis.” reflected UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa Director Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa.

timbuktoo will help create opportunities by strengthening partnerships and linkages between the government, universities (through the establishment of university innovation pods), corporations, and commercial investors to address gaps in the national startup ecosystem.

The initiative also commits governments to have the right legislation in place, making space available for a hub where startups can innovate and test, and contributing US$ 3 to US$ 5 million through state financial institutions towards the timbuktoo Africa Innovation Fund.

timbuktoo also helps countries tap into catalytic and commercial capital in a strategy that helps to de-risk venture capital, mobilizing US$ 1 billion for investment in ten years to scale up 1000 startups across Africa and creating US$ 10 billion value while impacting 100 million livelihoods.  

IT Park Corporation CEO Mr Henok Ahmed and State Minister of Innovation and Technology Dr Yeshurun Alemayehu take RBA Director Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa around some of the features of the ICT Park on the outskirts of Addis Ababas the ICT Park in the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

Addis Ababa is looking at being a strong candidate to join the timbuktoo hub following the eight thematic hubs across the continent as follows Accra (Agritech), Cairo (Trade/Logistics/E-Commerce), Cape Town (Creatives), Casablanca (Cleantech), Dakar(Tourism Tech/EdTech), Kigali (Healthtech), Lagos (Fintech), Lusaka (MineTech), and Nairobi (Climate/Green/Energy). The thematic focus for Addis will be decided once Ethiopia is officially on board. 

For more information on timbuktoo contact UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa,