Young Africans & Japanese Demonstrate Innovative Knack

The Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD) was conceived to galvanize international support for an African owned development model.
Prof. Imbuga (left) and Mr. Yano (right) have a taste of cricket and cricket products during the Expo

Prof. Imbuga (left) and Mr. Yano (right) have a taste of cricket and cricket products during the Expo

As the sixth edition of the Summit is staged in Africa for the first time, attention is turned on the continent’s most important natural resource – its youth. With 65% of the 1.2 billion people below the age of 35 years, it is not hard to understand why the continent is continuously looking to her human resource for a more inclusive and sustainable socio-economic growth and development.

To tap the ingenuity of Africa and Japanese youth, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and the Association of African Economy and Development (AFRECO) staged an official TICAD VI pre-event on young innovators, Friday, August 26th, 2016.

The event dubbed Young African and Nihonjin Innovators Expo (YANIE) brought together over 30 innovators from Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa and Japan and aimed to cement intercultural and international relations through Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).

Prof. Imbuga (left) and Mr. Yano (right) award Ngugi Ndung'u (second right) at the end of the Expo

Prof. Imbuga (left) and Mr. Yano (right) award Ngugi Ndung’u (second right) at the end of the Expo

The young innovators presented projects in a wide range of areas such as health, agriculture, ICT, engineering, with others focussing on gender and disability issues.

Ngugi Ndung’u, a third year computer science student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology who emerged top innovator, said it was his desire to succeed as a mobile application developer and create jobs for other Kenya youth.  He won the expo with his innovation christened Pepeza; an easy to use virtual noticeboard for organizational communication.

The same sentiments were expressed by Sato Yukie, a fourth year linguistics student from Soka University, Japan who shared the top prize. She believes that tapping youth talent could be a game-changer in development of both Africa and Japan.

AFRECO President, Tetsuro Yano who opened the expo lauded the initiative as a critical step towards narrowing the divide between Africa and Japan. He said the young people could easily share ideas, exchange knowledge and create solutions to power the present and future.

YANIE team with officials from JKUAT, AFRECO and other supporting organizations after the opening ceremony

YANIE team with officials from JKUAT, AFRECO and other supporting organizations after the opening ceremony

JKUAT Council Chairman, Prof. Paul Kanyari, said youth form an important asset whose talents and energies can be harnessed through higher education and research. He thanked Japan for the continued support to JKUAT and said the University remains steadfast in its resolve to provide quality education, research and innovation.

Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel said Africa was in need of functional innovations that could help unlock its potential and make life better for over 600 million who still live in poverty.

YANIE was supported by a number of Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) Accenture Japan Ltd, Japan Weather Association, Waseda University, Institute of International Strategy, and Kenya Private Sector Alliance.

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