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22 January 2015 | Economy & Investments

West Africa is on the verge of success..How? Transforming potential into impact

Aurora Chiste

San Francisco, California 21th January 2015 - We are encouraging the most talented and ambitious entrepreneurs in West Africa to create truly innovative businesses through a program that will take place in January and February 2015 in Accra, Ghana. The goal is to impact West African economies by creating sustainable businesses that match entrepreneurial intentions with opportunities. The program will take place at a leading innovation hub in Ghana, Hub Accra. The hackathon will be the grand final in February 20-22nd.

West Africa is on the verge of success...maybe. Here's what we know:

- Ghana's economic growth averaged 6%+ over the past six years and 14 percent in 2011
- Ghana's economic growth predicted 8% in 2015
- 6/10 of the fastest growing economies in last decade were African
- Africa has fastest growing middle class in the world, 1.1 billion middle class Africans predicted by 2060
- Population: 340 million people in ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States)

- If sub-Saharan Africa drew on East Asia's experience, adapted it to the local context and made comparable investments in young people, the region could experience an economic miracle of its own, adding as much as $500 billion (R6 trillion) to its economies every year for as many as 30 years.

Our goal is to impact Sub-Saharan economies by creating sustainable businesses through matching entrepreneurial intentions with opportunities. The Hackathon's challenges include sanitation, prenatal complication, education in remote areas, sexual transmitted diease, and transportation.

A new generation of talented and tech savvy Africans is emerging in West Africa - unleashing new creative communities with crisp perspectives. These Africans have the potential to change and improve their countries with their ideas, and innovate at a time when Africa's growth is accelerating in the face of serious challenges that have yet to be solved.

We are making this happening with strategic alliances that include global and local organizations:

Hub Accra, the leading Coworking space in Ghana, to incubate Ghana's best ideas to ensure sustained impact and deliver real value. Startups part of the Hub Accra include SliceBiz, that received funding from the Rockfeller Foundation and Tony Elumelu.

- Working with MEST, the leading tech school and incubator in Ghana to bring the country's best minds and talent to the hackathon and contribute to thought leadership

- Hackathon is supported by the US government through judge seat as part of commitment to support economic development and youth empowerment in West Africa

We see great potential attracting capital to build innovative disruptive solutions that can improve lives in West Africa. Africa is unique as it has the highest rate of early stage entrepreneurial activity in the world, while needing disruptive solutions to fix real crises and build infrastructure for the rising Billion.

The program seeks to contribute to the ongoing process of transforming West Africa by driving the economy to become more innovation-driven. Part of the program involves local partners offering long term committed support for entrepreneurship and innovation such as Hub Accra and Mest.

Aurora Chiste', founder and CEO Hack for Big Choices, “We believe this is deeply necessary because Africa's population will grow more rapidly, further constraining efforts to address poverty, create jobs, and protect the environment. We envision a landscape where African citizens source and adopt the best technologies to address local needs, become emerging entrepreneurs and create impactful innovation.”

Greater Sub-Saharan Africa has the fastest growing population of any region. According to the UN, the population of the region is set to more than double from the current 900 million to 2.1 Billion by 2050. Given its youthful population, future population growth in Africa will depend upon the culture and infrastructure that we can build today with technology and tools that enable innovation. It's fundamental not only to create a strong entrepreneurial culture but also create sustainable solutions, and West Africa is the perfect place to start.

John-Paul Parmigiani, cofounder Hub Accra, “Now is the time to collaborate with African change makers to create solutions to local and pan-African challenges through teamwork and technology. At Hub Accra we want to encourage entrepreneurs to spark truly impactful innovations that can better serve their communities in a sustainable way.”