First ever Mogadishu Tech Summit demonstrates leadership and talent of young Somalis

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Abdiwahab Ali, UNDP Somalia Innovation Specialist, speaks about the importance of innovation hubs as centres of excellence, during panel discussion at the final day of the Mogadishu Tech Summit, 25 October, 2018. Photo: UNDP Somalia/Keelin FitzGerald.
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Dr. Ashraf Abedlwahab of the Advisory Committee for Digital Transformation in Egypt, discusses cashless economies and the power of technology to transform societies, at the Mogadishu Tech Summit, 25 October 2018. Photo: UNDP Somalia/Keelin FitzGerald
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Mr. Abdullahi Hamud, State Minister of the Environment at the Office of the Prime Minister, gives closing remarks to participants at final day of Mogadishu Tech Summit, 25 October 2018. Photo: UNDP Somalia/Keelin FitzGerald
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Hassan Abdirizak, UNDP Somalia Climate Change and Resilience Portfolio, discusses how technology can build resilience to climate change, Mogadishu Tech Summit, 25 October 2018. Photo: UNDP Somalia/Keelin FitzGerald.
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Evelyn Aero of the NRC, speaks about building resilient, smart cities, alongside representatives from Somali NGOs and civil society, at final day of Mogadishu Tech Summit, 25 October 2018. Photo: UNDP Somalia/Keelin FitzGerald
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Pau Blanquer, UNDP Somalia, speaks alongside Guled Salah of SIDRA, on the importance of data in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, at Mogadishu Tech Summit, 25 October 2018.

Mogadishu, 25 October 2018.  Somalia’s first ever Tech Summit took place in Mogadishu this week, with a focus on youth and using technology to build a sustainable future in a global digitized world.  Over a thousand people took part in the event, which ran over three days from the 23-25 October. Attendees included young Somali entrepreneurs, investors, Government officials, United Nations experts on technology and development, and civil society and NGOs representatives.

The Summit was organized by Somali tech company iRise Hub, in collaboration with the Federal Government of Somalia, Benadir Regional Administration, and in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Integrated Office in Somalia, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.

Over the three days of the Summit, young entrepreneurs and innovators showcased their apps and ideas, and seventeen start-up companies pitched to investors and banks for seed funding.  Each day also saw a series of panellists discuss how tech and innovation can help build Somalia’s future.

In a video message to the participants on the final day, Mr. Mourad Wahba, Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Arab States said the Summit showed that today “Somalia is thought of not as country in drought or coming out of conflict, but as a country of growth, as a country of youth, as a country of leadership. I would like to thank the youth of Somalia for being such great leaders - not of tomorrow; you are our leaders today.”

The finale of the three-day event saw panelists from UNDP, alongside Somali tech and development experts, civil society and Government representatives, discussing mobile and cashless economies, “smart” cities, innovation hubs, the use of technology to protect against climate change, and how data can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), with support from Italy, also hosted a panel on the role of diaspora in promoting technology and innovative ideas.

Mr. Abdihakim Ainte, co founder of IRise Hub, said the Mogadishu Tech Summit was a landmark event in bringing together thousands of Somali youth eager to learn, listen and showcase their talent. “This is exactly what the Tech Summit is about – connecting Somali entrepreneurs, innovators and techies to the rest of the world,” he said.

The State Minister of Environment of the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Abdullahi Hamud, in his concluding remarks, highlighted that Somalia has been one of the first countries to embrace cashless mobile technology, and that young people are at the forefront of shaping innovation and technology in the country.

“There is a vibrant and thriving young community of entrepreneurs, innovators, coders, developers, techies here who are showing how keen they are to absorb and adopt new technologies. This progress has not been possible without the sheer resilience and determination of the Somali people, who have embraced peace over war, unity over division and continued to invest and rebuild this city,” Mr. Hamud said.

Contact:

Sherif El Tokali, Innovation Programme Manager, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Somalia. Email: sherif.el.tokali@undp.org.

Keelin FitzGerald, UNDP Somalia Communications Specialist. Email: keelin.fitzgerald@undp.org. Mobile: +252 619 505004. 

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