President Paul Kagame said technology and innovation are among the driving forces and tools for transforming the Rwandan economy.

He said this during the first edition of the Hanga Pitch Fest 2021 awards ceremony which took place at the Kigali Arena.

He said that for innovation and technology to have an impact on the economy, more effort needs to be invested.

“If you want to run the economy on the basis of knowledge, which is very important, and how you are available in any part of the world you go to, it depends on how you are. ready to exploit that and the difference will be made by how you focus on it, invest in it, ”he said.

President Kagame also called on investors and businesses to invest and support start-ups so that they can grow, but also stressed the importance of partnerships.

“Hanga Pitch Fest has equipped everyone who has helped grow your businesses. I want to encourage you to take full advantage of our countries’ programs and services to help start-up entrepreneurs succeed. More public and private partnerships are needed to accelerate the growth of the startup ecosystem. In advanced economies, ultimately what ours wants to be. The link between universities and entrepreneurship runs deep and productivity in Africa should be no different, ”said the president.

He also encouraged the emerging technology hubs to continue their efforts to support start-ups and businesses in Rwanda.

“I want to cite an example of Norrsken East Africa, which was recently launched and which will provide 20 Rwandan start-ups with a platform to address some of Africa’s health challenges,” he said.

Meanwhile, Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation said the event is a call to responsible bodies to continue supporting young innovators. “They cannot undertake this entrepreneurial adventure alone and they will need all of us,” she stressed.

Claire Akamanzi, CEO of RDB, congratulated the winners for their talent and innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, commitment and perseverance and reminded them of the major contribution they have made to the economy, calling them ” the future that will bring the economic transformation of Rwanda ”.

Winners

Of the 400 different start-ups that applied, only 25 were selected and 5 reached the final stage where the overall champion walked away with a cash prize of US $ 50,000.

Among the top five, Dianne Cyuzuzo, the only woman in the group of finalists, became the HangaPitchFest 2021 champion for her digital project which seeks to bring Rwanda’s traditional artifacts back to market.

Leandre Berwa, whose project, Second Life Storage, provides backup power and energy storage, walked away with US $ 20,000.

While Norman Mugisha, the 3e Afri’s farmers won $ 15,000, and respectively Yussouf Ntwali, CEO of BAG, and Angelo Igitego, whose project aims to boost employment and medical services for $ 12,500.

In addition to the financial boost, the winners will also be helped to access investors around the world, among other benefits.

HangaPitch Fest is an initiative of the Rwanda Development Board and the Ministry of ICT and Innovation that aims to provide young entrepreneurs with a platform where they can present ideas that create different innovations.


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