Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation and the Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB) have confirmed their partnership with the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) for its 2023 conference. The 9th edition of the annual AWIEF Conference, Exhibition and Awards will be held at the Kigali Convention Centre, in Rwanda, on 9 and 10 November 2023.
The AWIEF Founder and CEO, Irene Ochem, said, “We are honoured and delighted to partner with the Ministry and RCB in what we believe will be our most dynamic and engaging conference yet. MINICT’s mission to address economic growth and poverty reduction through the development and coordination of policies and programmes related to information, technology, communication, innovation, and empowerment is closely aligned with AWIEF’s passion and purpose.”
Established in 2015, AWIEF has become Africa’s leading entrepreneurship, innovation and technology platform, bringing together more than 1,300 entrepreneurs and start-ups, industry experts, thought leaders, policy drivers, and change-makers from across government, corporate and development sectors. The event is built for impactful discussions and dialogue on new ideas, initiatives, strategies, and solutions to drive innovation, entrepreneurship, digitisation, intra-Africa trade, investing, food security, climate action and sustainability and, ultimately, economic and social transformation in Africa. The event features a multi-sector exhibition, workshops, the AWIEF Awards and gala dinner, and networking opportunities.
In matters tech, in 2022, African tech start-ups raised over $7 billion in funding. It was a testament to opportunities existing in tech and was an indicator of how quickly and strategically Africans are utilising them. However, as noted in an article in Tech Cabal by Titilope Adedokun, despite these numbers, the development of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in this ecosystem falls short. Women make up only 30 per cent of tech professionals in Africa, as observed by Adedokun strips DE&I bare, looking at it in the African context and finding it wanting. “At its core, DEI is intentionally creating and fostering a workplace where prospective employees and employees feel respected, included, and welcome, in spite of their differences. In a continent as diverse as Africa, it is concerning that most African tech start-ups do not have DEI strategies.”
This is why such partnerships are crucial. They create spaces where women can interact with decision-makers as well as get exposed to investors. The Minister of ICT and Innovation of the Republic of Rwanda, Paula Ingabire, said, “As a country that understands the critical role of women in national development and transformation, Rwanda is delighted to host the 9th Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) Conference and Awards, in November. We will be particularly interested in discussing practical solutions to accelerate Africa’s inclusive digital transformation and contribute to closing the gender gap.”
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion remain a challenge not just continental, but globally as well. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap report estimates at the current pace, it will take 99.5 years for the world to achieve parity based on a study of 153 countries. Broken down regionally, Sub-Saharan Africa will take 95 years, 140 years for the Middle East and North Africa compared with Western Europe’s 54 years.
Keeping in mind the incredible diversity that exists in Africa, strides such as those being taken by Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation say a lot about the role of women in digital transformation. Rwanda is also one of the few African countries that have been at the top of the IPU’s monthly ranking of women in national parliament for years and are the one country closest to achieving any form of gender parity.
Lauding the efforts of the Rwandese government, Janet Karemera, CEO, Rwanda Convention Bureau said that “The Government of Rwanda is pleased to partner with AWIEF to host the next edition of their Conference and Awards, in Kigali. This event provides a platform for the over 1,000 private sector actors, experts, policy-makers and thought leaders to discuss issues related to Africa’s inclusive economic growth and to further advance women’s economic empowerment and business leadership on the continent. We look forward to delivering a successful event and offering AWIEF guests a memorable experience in Rwanda.” This willingness to participate in the expression of DE&I enhances Rwanda’s reputation.
Ochem, while acknowledging Rwanda’s opening up concluded that, “We are excited to be working with RCB to bring our international speakers, guests, and delegates to Kigali, one of the most progressive cities in Africa right now. We are looking forward to advancing our efforts in connecting and inspiring the African entrepreneurship ecosystem in this significant hub for business, technology, and innovation.”
Registration has opened for AWIEF2023. For your early bird ticket, register online before the end of April. Please note that citizens of African Union, Commonwealth and La Francophonie member countries will obtain a 30-day free visa on arrival. All other visitors will get a visa upon arrival, at a fee.