Remarks by the UNDP Ethiopia Resident Representative

Mr Samuel G Doe

April 26, 2024

Dr. Belete Molla, Minister of Innovation and Technology
Dr. Brook Taye, Director of the Ethiopia Capital Market Authority
Madam Ahunna Eziakonwa, Regional Director for UNDP Bureau for Africa, Assistant Secretary General and Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme
Distinguished Members of the Ethiopia Startup Committee
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is my distinct pleasure to extend a warm welcome to each of you gathered here today for this important occasion. As we convene with esteemed members of the Startup Ethiopia Committee and active leaders in Ethiopia’s Startup ecosystem, I am delighted that my boss, Ms. Eziakonwa who is no stranger in Ethiopia, will have the opportunity to present to you one of her groundbreaking initiatives—the Timbuktoo Initiative.

UNDP’s mission with the Timbuktoo Initiative is nothing short of transformative. We envision the establishment of pan-African centers of excellence strategically positioned across the continent to serve as catalysts for innovation, incubating groundbreaking startups and fostering entrepreneurship that transcends borders.

Today, we are here to explore the possibility of Ethiopia hosting one of these centers of excellence.

Ethiopia stands at a pivotal moment in its journey towards economic prosperity and as strategic leader in the Horn of Africa Region.

Allow me to extend heartfelt congratulations to Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed and Dr. Belete Molla, Minister of Innovation and Technology for the launch of the Next Ethiopian Startups (NEST) initiative in October 2023; and for the deliberations that have taken place in the last three weeks with the Startups community.

The NEST and the ICT Park dedicated to ICT-based startups, which we just visited, underscore Ethiopia's readiness to embrace the digital age and harness the power of technology to drive socioeconomic development.  It is also a testament to Ethiopia's unwavering commitment to fostering innovation and nurturing the talents of especially its young population.  

The potential synergy between the UNDP Timbuktoo Initiative and Ethiopia's burgeoning startup ecosystem is remarkable. The NEST and the ICT Park not only provide a solid foundation but also serve as an anchor for the pan-African vision of the Timbuktoo Initiative.
All this, couple with Ethiopia's rich history, vibrant culture, and entrepreneurial spirit make it an ideal candidate to host a Timbuktoo Hub. By leveraging Ethiopia's unique strengths and embracing a collaborative approach, we can pave the way for a future where African startups lead the charge towards inclusive and sustainable development.

In conclusion, as we embark on today's discussion, let us recognize the pivotal role of innovation and technology in accelerating the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), for which the UN Secretary General made a clarion call to all Member States in the last General Assembly.

In a world grappling with complex challenges, from climate change to poverty alleviation, harnessing the transformative potential of innovation is not just an option but a necessity.

Together, let us seize this opportunity to shape a brighter future for Ethiopia, Africa, and beyond.

I very much look forward to the discussion.  Thank you. 

25 April 2024