UNDP has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ministry of Innovation and Technology to enlist the support of Ethiopian innovators and tech sector in coming up with innovative and home-grown solutions to fight COVID-19. 

A challenge grant will be jointly launched to identify local innovators capable to co-design, experiment and implement technology-driven solutions to monitor the outbreak, and advance preventive measures including awareness-raising, disease surveillance and citizen action, among others. UNDP plans to make an initial contribution of half a million US dollars and, depending on the success of the challenge grant, will potentially double the contribution. 

The partnership is part of a broader programmatic offer by UNDP to tackle COVID19, which also includes analysis on socio-economic impacts; support to the Government of Ethiopia in ensuring business continuity focusing on critical government functions in the wake of the pandemic; and addressing the negative impact of the pandemic on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and employment (in both the formal and informal sectors).  UNDP will work with the rest of the UN family and other development partners on these issues. 

The MoU was signed virtually by H.E Sisay Tola, State Minister of Ministry of Innovation and Technology and Turhan Saleh, UNDP Resident Representative for Ethiopia.  State Minister Sisay Tola said, “The support will focus on coordination and harmonization of individual, government and stakeholders efforts in research, technology and innovation to prevent COVID-19 and reduce its impact in the country. ”  Resident Representative Turhan Saleh noted on this occasion that ‘….this is a great opportunity for the tech and innovator community in Ethiopia – mostly young women and men – to show what smart ideas and applications, delivered quickly, can make a big difference in the fight against COVID-19.  Others e.g. in South Korea have done it.  So can we.’

As part of the agreement and working closely with UNDP Ethiopia’s Accelerator Lab team, MiNT will launch the Grand Challenge soon to select the best innovators from amongst the local tech community able to design and implement local solutions and to scale up the response against COVID-19.

Ministry of Innovation and Technology plays a vital role in the coordination and implementation of innovative technologies in the country in collaboration with financial institutions, higher education, research institutions and industries. So far the Ministry has supported information exchange platforms on COVID-19 and provided equipment to facilitate connectivity for staff working from home.

UNDP’s COVID-19 response focuses on helping countries to do three things in an integrated way: to prepare, respond and recover in the face of this pandemic, with three immediate priorities on the table: strengthening health systems, enhancing inclusive crisis management, and assessing and responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. In all this, UNDP’s focus remains, as always, on the most vulnerable people and those who may get left behind.

The Ministry and UNDP hereby call upon innovators and individuals interested to participate in the Grand Challenge competition to get prepared in advance. Details of the competition will be announced in the next few days so check out http://www.techin.gov.et/announcement/



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