UNDP Africa releases a special online magazine highlighting 50 young Africans innovating against COVID-19

“Choose to believe in Africa,” Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa

September 22, 2020


Addis Ababa, 22 September 20202 - The UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa today released a special edition of an online magazine, showcasing how young Africans are resourcefully helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The magazine – dubbed Africa Innovates, is timely as the world grapples with a response and recovery to a global pandemic. 

As COVID-19 continues to ravage the world, scant attention is being given to efforts Africans are making to stem the spread of the Coronavirus. The magazine seeks to contribute to a new narrative – one that showcases Africa’s potential and Africans breaking with a wait for solutions from outside approach.

Africa Innovates features 50, mainly young innovators, who against all odds, and  limited resources, are inventing diverse home-grown solutions which are proving essential in mitigating the effects of the pandemic on their communities. 

According to Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary General and Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, the untapped potential of Africa’s youth creates urgency in rethinking “the way to do development – a way in which the promise frames the approach, and not the problem.”

She states: “At UNDP, we believe in Africa’s promise. We are not on a problem solving project.  Rather, we are investing in Africa’s abilities and its inherent capacity, if harnessed, to create its own solutions.  For this magazine, we found 50 African innovators who saw in COVID-19, the opportunity to solve today’s challenges, lending hope to a future of promise - not despair.”

The compilation – which is not exhaustive, was collated by the UNDP Africa Regional Representatives on recommendation from the communities in which they serve, as well as from industry insiders endorsement and research based on the following criteria: African-produced, innovative, game-changing, scalable, applicable, safe, impactful and can provide a long-term solution post COVID-19.

The projects featured say it all – Africa can. From drones to robots; contact tracing apps to rapid and non-invasive testing kits, portable hands-free sanitation chambers to community hand-washing stations that also cater for those less able; oxygen-making machines to genome sequencing, AI-powered healthcare chat bots to online platforms providing health services to those suffering mental health problems triggered by effects of  the pandemic – African is managing complexity in the world’s most denting pandemic – through home-grown  solutions.

“We see each of these innovators as an important part of the web of hands rebuilding Africa forward: delivering solutions for a new Africa,” says Ms. Eziakonwa concluding:

“I hope that you will be as inspired as I am – and that you will join us in investing in Africa’s promise.  Choose to believe in Africa – it is the future of development.”

Africa Innovates is one of the projects from UNDP Africa’s initiative – African Influencers For Development, (AI4Dev) – launched in  September 2019 by a high level panel, including the UN Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Amina Mohamed, during the UN General Assembly.