IAN MERRINGTON

CEO, THE CAPE INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE (CITI) AND THE BANDWIDTH BARN

"AFRICA’S POTENTIAL ECONOMIC GROWTH REMAINS HAMPERED BY INEQUALITY BETWEEN COUNTRIES AND INEQUALITY WITHIN COUNTRIES. THIS HAS BECOME EVEN MORE APPARENT DURING THE PANDEMIC WHICH HAS AMPLIFIED PRE-EXISTING VULNERABILITIES ACROSS THE REGION."

- IAN MERRINGTON, CEO, THE CAPE INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE (CITI) AND THE BANDWIDTH BARN

Covid 19 has had a particularly harsh impact on the region’s most vulnerable citizens. Access to vaccines and the ability to deliver these to individuals faces infrastructural and logistical constraints in less developed countries. As the global economy adopted the digital value chain at an exponential pace during lockdown, many in Africa fell even further behind.

However, looking ahead, the potential for the continent remains undiminished.

Half of the world’s population growth over the next three decades will take place in sub-Saharan Africa! To quote the IMF “This represents the region’s single greatest challenge, but it also represents perhaps its greatest opportunity: it embodies a growing pool of human talent and ingenuity, with a billion more individuals all interacting and seeking new ways to better themselves and their communities.

Not only does Sub-Saharan Africa have the world’s most promising renewable energy potential, it also has vast stores of innovative and resilient individuals with enormous potential to accelerate economic growth. However, for this to be unlocked, full participation in the digital economy becomes essential for Africa.

Employment and economic prosperity cannot be driven by corporations and big business alone. Much of the continent’s economic growth will evolve from small business and entrepreneurs. For 21 years, CiTi has been refining and improving on its entrepreneurial support programmes. We believe that generic business incubation, digital enablement of SMME’s (particularly in the informal sector), specialised incubation and acceleration are an essential and powerful part of CiTi’s ability to positively impact economic growth and employment.

We will continue to identify and seed technology clusters, which can make an impact over the next five years while becoming truly transformative over the next twenty years. We will bring our proven capability and expertise to bear on the areas of BioTech, EdTech, digital skills, energy, food and water security and Web3, through specialised catalytic interventions which create ecosystems to support cities across the continent.

Bio: Ian Merrington is CEO of The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative and The Bandwidth Barn and is also a Director of Injini, Africa’s first EdTech Accelerator and Chairperson of BioCiTi.

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