(CNN) The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) have announced a new partnership that will expand support for youth entrepreneurship on the continent.
The partnership will create an additional 1,000 places on the flagship Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), bringing the total number of places to 3,050.
Participants in the program, launched by influential Nigerian entrepreneur Tony Elumelu in 2015, will receive access to seed funding, expert mentoring, and a 12-week business training program.
Competition for places has increased in the past year, according to figures from TEF. The Foundation received 216,000 applicants compared to 151,000 for 2018, with a record 90,000 female applicants.
The African tech hubs fostering innovation
Africa is experiencing increased investment in its tech industries. One contributing factor is the amount of tech hubs in the major urban centers that are sprouting. According to research from GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator
in 2016 there were 314 active tech hubs across the continent.
Part of the appeal of tech hubs is that they provide affordable shared office space, fast internet, and access to reliable electricity, something that the continent overall still grapples with. Nairobi Garage in Kenya's capital offers all of these things, and holds tech events, conferences and workshops helping entrepreneurs gain new skills. Also in Nairobi, iHub tech incubator lists more than 150 companies that can trace their origins to ideas sparked there.
Over 50% of tech hubs are in five countries, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria Egypt and Morocco. One of the biggest in South Africa is Durban's SmartXchange
, which strives to develop small and medium enterprises, and holds monthly forums where successful business figures offer advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Cape Town-based RLabs
organizes digital and entrepreneurship bootcamps, and provides an investment of up to $20,000 for every social enterprise developed through their program.
The east Africa nation's capital is home to iceaddis
which supports youth-driven private sector initiatives and promotes interaction between techies, entrepreneurs, investors and people from the creative industries.
The Co-Creation Hub
in Lagos, Nigeria's most populous city, holds so-called tech-In series, where software developers and designers try to create new web and mobile based solutions to social challenges affecting the everyday lives of Nigerians over the course of two days.
Located in Tanzania's largest city, Kinu
aims to be an open space where Tanzania's tech community can collaborate, and make a joint effort to find new solutions to social challenges.
In the heart of Kampala is Hive Colab
, a community-run innovation hub which offers co-working space. It's a place where tech entrepreneurs, web and mobile app developers, designers and investors can meet, nurture ideas and get them off the ground.
Recovering from a recent, bloody history of conflict, Liberia is turning its attention to tech. Monrovia's iLab
offers free training in information and communications technology and serves as a meet-up space for a range of tech enthusiasts and professionals.
The final list of 3,050 successful applicants was drawn from all 54 African countries.
Elumelu said that choosing the finalists was an "almost impossible task" and expressed confidence that TEEP participants would make an impact.
"Our entrepreneurs are hungry to effect change," he said. "We know we are only scratching the surface, we see the depth of entrepreneurial talent, that all of us -- government, business, indeed African society, must harness to transform our economies and livelihoods."
"We must rally together to empower them and accelerate the change we want on the continent."
"The partnership will bring about future collaboration focused on strengthening small to medium-sized enterprises, talent and skills development, and optimization initiatives for Africa's youth," said AfDB in a statement.
Elumelu is credited with coining the term "Africapitalism" to describe his belief "that the African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth."
One of the major challenges that TEEP seeks to address is youth unemployment and poverty.
According to the AfDB, more than 12 million young people enter the labor market each year, but just three million jobs are created, which contributes to a youth poverty rate of around 70 percent in sub-Saharan Africa.