Great Zambezi

President of Great Zambezi Initiative : Mr. Joseph Chakopo

Smart Innovation Summit Launch | Full Speech By GZI President J. Chakopo

The Smart Innovation Summit was officially launched at Le Elementos by Mantis in the capital city of Zambia, Lusaka. The event which attracted a lot of renowned guests from private companies and the government with the Guest of Honor from the Zambian Ministry of Transport and communication.

The Great Zambezi Initiative President Mr. Joseph Chakopo who is a young man with a great vision shared his vision on the upcoming Smart Innovation Summit which will be held from the 21st – 25th of June 2021. Below is the full speech that he shared.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege to extend a heartfelt welcome to everyone present today. The guest of honor, invited guests, esteemed partners, media houses present; allow me to simply say all protocol observed. 

We are gathered here today, 25th February 2020 to witness the Smart Innovation Summit launch.

The envisioned Summit will facilitate conversations and collaboration amongst individuals, startups, corporates, governments, and non-governmental organizations across the Zambezi Basin and beyond.

The Smart Innovation Summit is meant to be a community-driven event with a goal to showcase innovative Startup companies in Zambia and all countries that share the Zambezi Basin namely Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

To this day and as we countdown to the Smart Innovation Summit, the Great Zambezi Initiative team has held four Innovation Challenges with the first being:

The Great Zambezi and One Hack Innovation Challenge in August 2020,

Followed by the Smart Village Innovation Challenge in December, 2020

Also the Smart Cities Innovation Challenge in January, 2020

And most recently the Food Security Innovation Challenge

In the month of March we are going to be having the Women, Children and Youth Innovation Challenge, followed by the Sport and Art Innovation Challenge in April with the Diversity Innovation Challenge coming in May as we will be doing the home stretch towards the Smart Innovation Summit.

The Innovation Challenges have impacted over 170 women, children and youths representing 55 early stage startups who now look up to us for Mentorship and access to opportunities for growth. We have seen cross border collaborations with some teams having members from as many as 4 countries. We aim to have impacted at least 300 early stage startups in the region by end of 2021.

Allow me to take this opportunity to acknowledge those who have been walking with us through this journey so far and these include but are not limited to Ambitious Africa, Impact Innovation Alliance, Ecocivilisation, ICT Association of Zambia, Buoyant Africa, NyamukAfrica Solutions, Nyamula Logistics and others too numerous to mention.

Ladies and gentlemen, the determination that we have seen in our young people represents a glimmer of hope even  during the pandemic that has disrupted our lives as we knew it. We strongly believe that Innovation should not be the ultimate purpose, but rather the ideal means to introduce impactful change. Further if Innovation is to bring about Impactful change, it should be Sustainable, Measurable, Agile, Relevant and Time bound hence the name Smart Innovation Summit.

People living in rural areas remain largely excluded from the mainstream economy yet most of our population about 60% live in the same rural areas. This situation requires some urgent fixing and the incentive for doing so are the countless opportunities at economic growth that comes with it. We need to make sure that living in rural areas is not deemed a curse anymore, but a privilege if we are to control the rapid rural to urban migration which has left our cities overwhelmed trying to cope up with huge and largely unemployed youthful population.

Climate change on the other hand has been frustrating efforts by our governments at ensuring not only that food is available, but also affordable to all.

We have witnessed in the past few years how Xenophobia has shown its ugly head in South Africa targeting mainly nationals from countries in the Zambezi basin, Zambia included, who have gone to seek green pastures there, a case of forced migration.

Indeed, there is a cause for this initiative. We must water our own pastures and make them greener to lure our people back thereby restoring our dignity.

As the Great Zambezi Initiative our goal is to establish networking opportunities for entrepreneurs in the ecosystem by exposing them to necessary research-based information, knowledge, and services.

Our main areas of focus include education, agriculture, health, mobility, connectivity, and clean energy among other thematic areas.

In the early 1980s the world was introduced to the digital age which emphasised the need for technology as a means for survival and ultimately economic development. What this entails is that digital technologies are necessary for countries to achieve successful economic growth and development. To achieve this, governments are required to invest in the necessary resources especially their people, women, youths and children. The World Bank in its report on the digital economy for African initiative states that digital technologies offer a chance to disrupt the challenges of a failing economy, unlocking new pathways for rapid economic growth, innovation, job creation and access to services which would have been unimaginable only a decade ago.          

Ladies and gentlemen, at the heart of the initiative is the desire to enable Africa’s growing population the opportunity to expand their problem-solving skills and abilities in order to live up to their full potential. One way of achieving this is through the Smart Innovation Summit which will push individuals to participate in conversations and workshops that will help build their knowledge and capacity.

For the young and ambitious, this is a great opportunity to act and bring about change to your respective communities. The Digital Economy is here with us and research tells us that there is a huge risk of the gap between those said to be rich and poor widening if business is to carry on as usual. Yet in all this, Zambia and Africa at large have a rare opportunity to take the lead in addressing all forms of exclusion whilst at the same time creating new sustainable jobs at a pace that has never been seen or imagined. Vision 2030 will remain a pipedream if we will not adopt a radical approach in the way we do things. Being a young person myself, I urge my fellow youths not to seek after what our countries will do for us but rather what we can do for our countries that have already given us so much.

As I approach the end of my speech ladies and gentlemen, allow me to make a clarion call to all the Corporates and Government Agencies represented in this room as well as those joining us virtually. The Smart Innovation Summit can not be a success without your partnership and support. We need you to come on board, this initiative is way bigger than us alone. We are determined to make this happen come what may, as a Hybrid event and in the unlikely event that Zambia will be under a strict lockdown due to the pandemic, we aim to leverage technology and deliver a virtual experience that will give value to partners, sponsors and all that will be involved. We will be reaching out to you after today and we have no doubt that you will embrace us as you have already opened the way by making the time to be here.

The Smart Innovation Summit will be running from 21-25 June, 2021 under the Theme: “Innovation for Impactful Change”?? We expect over 300 Speakers from Zambia, the Region and all over the world with several confirmations having been received already.

Together we can, Together we are Strong and Together we Rise!! I thank you.