Ethiopia’s Inaugural ‘Innovation Summit’ Sparks Imaginations

A technology, innovation and entrepreneurship summit sparked imaginations in Ethiopia last week. The inaugural Enkopa summit — a collaboration between the Ethiopian Ministry of Labor and Skills and other partners — brought in speakers and exhibitors from across the world to Addis Ababa to discuss technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Speaking at the two-day event, Ethiopian State Minister of Labor and Skills Nigussu Tilahun emphasized the important role of the government in clearing a path for job creation in the country.

Nigussu said government’s role in building the entrepreneurship ecosystem is to create and facilitate a conducive environment for it.

The event, which was October 12 and 13, had 150 speakers from sectors like fintech, health care and agriculture.

Feven Tsehaye, founder and CEO of Chakka Origins — which sources natural ingredients in biodiversity hotspots — said land management is crucial to the work the company does in Ethiopia.

She said working with small holder farmers is essential.

“It makes sense to work with them and more efficiently utilizing their space instead of engaging in land clearing or displacing people,” Feven said.

Sessions during the two-day summit also explored the role of AI in agriculture, and sustainable farming in Ethiopia.

Abrhame Endrias leads Lersha, which provides digital services to farmers. He said making technology accessible to farmers encourages tech adoption.

Lersha provides climate and pest control advisories, farming inputs and options for mechanization.

Abrhame said Lersha translates information into local languages so farmers can understand the information and make decisions. The information comes to the farmers via text message.

While Lersha focuses on small holder famers, there were startups at the summit that focused on Ethiopia’s commercial farmers.

Semegn Tadesse, CEO of ARMADA AgriTech, said working with commercial farmers promises to deliver a more radical change.

“If you want to show progress, here is a big room for improvement in commercial farmers,” Semegn said. “They are also underserved even though they have financial capacity.”

The summit, funded by the United Nations Development Program, and other partners is expected to be held every year.

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