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PAU Innovation Challenge | Keynote speech of H.E. Prof Sarah Anyang Agbor


Your Excellency the German Ambassador  

The Director Human Capital Youth and Skills Department at AfDB,
The Acting Rector of the Pan African University
The Directors of the PAU Institutes,
The Rectors of the Host Universities of the PAU Institutes,
Your Excellencies, Members of Government of the Host Countries,
Invited guests, Media
Ladies and gentlemen,
All protocols observed
On behalf of the African Union and the African Union Commission Chairperson, H.E. Dr. Mo ussa Faki Mahamat, let me begin by expressing my sincere gratitude to all the people who worked tirelessly in the organization of this event, and to congratulate every participant, especially our 08 finalist teams–among which the winners will be announced at the end of this event, and to all PAU students, Alumni and staff who share the belief of a better Africa and are committed to the AU Agenda 2063 The Africa we Want.

I also want to warmly thanks our partners: AfDB and GIZ not only for sponsoring this competition but also for their continuous support to the development of the Pan African University

I  am very happy  to  be  here today for  the 1st PAU  Innovation Challenge  - Grand Final.  An event co-organised by  PAU Rectorate, PAUWES with support from  GIZ, my gratitude goes also to the German Ministry BMZ and the Algerian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

The PAU Innovation Challenge is a project that I hold dear because this challenge is representativ e of what PAU is trying to achieve.  

The driving idea of this competition is to raise the awareness of PAU students and alumni on innovation and to promote an entrepreneurship mindset across not only PAU but also Africa. The strategic focus of the PAU is geared towards the pursuit of excellence in order to attain world-class standards, placing PAU  in  a  powerful  position  to  directly  contribute  to  the  transformation  of  the  continent,  as  it  is envisaged by the Agenda 2063 and articulated within strategies such as CESA 2016-25, STISA 2024 and the Continental TVET Strategy.  

PAU established the Pan African Entrepreneurship Hubs, a platform for advancing skills development and  entrepreneurship across the continent through a  panel  of events in collaboration  with  different  partners. PAU graduates representing all Member States of the African Union and equipped with sound knowledge of frica’s current and future challenges – as well as solutions to overcome them – shall act as prime advocates of African integration and development.

This competition embodies one of the most important mission of PAU: identifying the most pressing needs  and  issues  of  the  African  continent,  strengthening  the  dialogue  and  cooperation  with policymakers, private sector and civil society to provide innovative viable solutions. This is essential for us, because it deals with real-life issues of African communities.
I  am extremely pleased to see  that among  the 69 projects submitted by competing teams from the four PAU Institutes, many team leaders were female alumni or students. These projects covered many applicative fields like Agriculture, Manufacturing, Renewable Energy, Trade & Retail, Platform & Apps  and  other Services.  The  whole  process  of this challenge respected the  pillars of  the AU in terms  of transparency,  absence  of  conflicts  of  interest,  regional  and  gender  distribution,  to  ensure  a  fair competition among the participants.

We celebrate our 08 finalist teams, young modern innovators, competing in this prestigious challenge as Africans and PAU champions.

I would also remind  our participants and audience that  the AfCFTA is now a reality that foster inter-African trade enlarging the arena in which today’s frican innovators and start-ups are competing to provide a better future for Africa.

The  quality  and  diversity  of  the  innovative  projects  of  PAU  community  in  this  1s t  PAU  Innovation Challenge, anchors P U’s position as a  hub for  innovators  and  young  African  entrepreneurs alike  to develop and scale their start-ups to global markets.

This  Innovation  challenge  has  been  carried  out  under  travel  and  lockdown  restrictions  due  to  the exceptional and serious world health crisis caused by COVID-19. Africa and the World need innovative and  relevant  ideas,  especially,  in  a  world  that  exposed  its  vulnerability  and  increasing  need  for resilience.  

The COVID- 19 pandemic constrained us to turn the 1s t PAU Innovation challenge grand final into a full online event.  This  constraint  turned  into  a  huge opportunity  for our finalists  to  have  a  continental exposure  of  their  ideas,  to  attract  more  venture  capitalists  and  to  strengthen  their  networks  and potential partnerships to nurture the growth of their start-ups.
So,  allow  me  to  congratulate,  once  again,  all  the  participants  and  to  express  my  gratitude  to  the organizers.  

I thank you all very much for your attention.