Somali youth launch country’s first technology innovation hub
Mogadishu - Somalia has launched its first technology innovation hub, iRise, which will provide technology solutions to some of the challenges facing the country. The hub’s vision is to invest in the young generation and its future leaders, by attracting social investors who can support youth enterprises.
“We want to give a platform where youth can unlock their potential by coming up with ideas on tech entrepreneurship,” explains Abdihakim Ainte, a 32-year-old technology entrepreneur and co-founder of iRise Hub.
The launch of iRise Hub fulfills a desire to entrench a technology culture among Somalia’s youth - who represent about 80 per cent of the country’s population, while supporting the economic transformation of the country.
The hub offers young entrepreneurs a platform for technological innovations and collaborations, including business training, mentorship, free internet connectivity, project evaluation and support during the incubation stages of their start-ups. The hub will also offer research and working space for young people keen on using technology to drive business.
“We believe it is time for Somali youth to come to the fore with their ideas, claim and invest in their future,” Ainte notes.
Ainte says their motivation comes from the desire to nurture and bring new ideas to life. He also mentions that the initiative was inspired by experiences in Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda, which have thriving technology innovation hubs.
Ainte and his partners look forward to collaborating with existing global networks of like-minded technology entrepreneurs and other technology hubs. They also plan to encourage the contribution and participation of youth to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We want to make sure we combine our agenda with the global SDGs. If you look at the goals, each of them has an effect on Somalia. For example, SDG one, which is to end poverty, is one area that we as an innovation hub of young entrepreneurs, would want to address,” Ainte explains.
Targeting digitally empowered youth, iRise Hub banks on the fertile ground for technology and the widespread use of mobile telephony in Somalia, to achieve its objectives.
“About 25 per cent of the entire population has access to mobile services. That means we are already dealing with technology in one way or another. It’s an inescapable force that we have to reckon with,” Ainte says.
“We believe that technology can bring a solution to the country’s multifaceted challenges,” he adds.
The United Nations recognizes the role of youth in promoting initiatives and innovation projects that support social development, and encourages creativity and innovative ideas that open new avenues to solving some of the global problems.