Japan, U.S. launch innovation competition in Ethiopia

The U.S. government and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) today launch the third round of nationwide innovation competition to encourage young Ethiopians to address community issues through the application of software, hardware and other technologies.

It will be promoted across 15 cities in Ethiopia and seeks to support youth across the country to develop innovative projects, promote entrepreneurship, and solve local problems through technology, according to the press statement from the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa.



Solve IT 2020 will be implemented by iCog Labs, with sponsorship from the US Embassy, JICA Ethiopia, the Federal Small and Medium Manufacturing Industry Promotion Authority, and the Federal Urban Job Creation and Food Security Agency. As the name implies, Solve IT encourages Ethiopian youth to find ways to solve local problems using technological innovation.

Participants enter the competition by developing a product to solve a prominent issue within their community. In addition, a core component of Solve IT is the focus on providing mentorship to participants.

“Solve IT aims to decentralize technology by increasing the availability of technological products in all regions of the country. Often technology is found in the cities and is usually not attainable or affordable for the middle and lower classes. Hence, this competition is allowing for all social classes throughout the country to have an opportunity to connect with technology to make their lives easier and solve their daily struggles.” Bezawit Kassaye, Project Manager, Solve IT, explained.

“Moreover, Solve IT does not just decentralize technology, but it also allows for the creation of jobs and several opportunities for the youth.” Bezawit also added that it creates an environment where the youth are focused on creating jobs rather than finding them. “Thus, Solve IT provides an alternative solution to the problem of unemployment that is currently facing a majority of the youth,” she added, according to the Embassy’s statement.