Demo Africa is exciting for a number of reasons as it’s a well-structured opportunity to bring massive amounts of innovation [to the continent],” said Fernando de Sousa, general manager of Microsoft’s Africa Initiatives.
DEMO Africa is one of the flagship initiatives of the Liberalising Innovation Opportunity Nations (LION@frica), a project started by the US Department of State, Microsoft, DEMO, USAID and Startup Weekend.
The initiative aims to connect African start-ups to the global ecosystem by giving the most innovative companies on the continent a platform to launch their products to the world.
Out of 400 applicants, 40 were selected, reviewed and had participated in regional events in order to make the cut for DEMO Africa 2014 held in Lagos on the 25 September.
De Sousa added that not only does the event expose the latest innovations to investors, business leaders and the press, but it also gets dialogue going on the creation of fundamental solutions for Africa.
“Africa is moving so quickly and I think that the enabling capacity of the digital world addresses many of its issues like infrastructure as well as opportunities. Primarily however, it addresses the aspiration that young Africans have of participating in the global economy,” he added.
“That aspiration and enthusiasm makes Africa the most exciting and opportunistic continent in the world. It also makes the young people of Africa the most privileged in the world because it’s all there, they can just take it.”
(READ MORE: Finding African solutions to local problems)
In two years, DEMO Africa alumni have generated eight million US dollars through investments, businesses or partnerships using the platform.
De Sousa said that the initiative has inspired more than 1000 innovators to setup businesses and monetise their opportunities. It has also educated African governments about the importance of protecting intellectual property, supporting innovation and creating local solutions.
(READ MORE: S.Africa business leaders more open to innovation