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Annual innovation competition kicks off

SOLVE IT, a nationwide annual innovation competition, was launched at the compound of the United States Embassy on Thursday in an effort to embrace the “realm of tech entrepreneurship” among Ethiopian youth, and provide needed training in software, hardware and marketing for start-ups.

This year, the effort has managed to attract a record of interests around the nation.

Supported by the US and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), it was started in 2018 and is credited with creating awareness in the use of technology among a local society that is playing catch-up to it.

The US ambassador, Michael Reynor has been an active and noted supporter of the initiative.

Your innovations show what Ethiopian youth can do, using Ethiopian materials and Ethiopian insights, to address Ethiopia’s challenges. You are this country’s future, and this is Point Number Two:  the United States supports you,” he told the participants in 2018. “We do this by investing in Ethiopians who will build this country’s bright future, and an example of this investment is the SolveIt program we’re celebrating today.

The Amassador further added stating “the United States asks for no repayment from such investments, and there’s no interest accrued, but we will undoubtedly see a return on our investment. The return we expect from these investments is an even stronger Ethiopia – a new centre of democracy, a thriving economic and trade hub, and a guarantor of security and stability in the wider region.”

This year’s event has attracted 112 young entrepreneurs from 15 cities and they have been networking and presenting their tech-based solutions all week, including participating in boot-camps and meeting potential investors.

The final competition will take place in Kana Studio, this afternoon and according to sources, there are to be major potential investors, and representatives of the respective Embassies and iCog Labs in attendance. 

The US continues to emerge as a partner of youth development and the virtue of democracy within Ethiopia. It is seen as a major supporter of the array of reforms implemented by the government of Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and through USAID, it plays a major role on developmental initiatives.