African youth innovating

Namibia to become hub of innovation in Africa
The summit saw youth in Africa come together to innovate for opportunities in the African diaspora.
Jeanette Diergaardt
At the fourth edition of the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge, a number of opportunities were introduced for African youth in the tourism sector. The ministry of environment and tourism announced that Namibia will become the centre of tourism in Africa through a tourism innovation hub that will be built in the Land of the Brave. More information on the hub is still to be shared.

“I call all African youth to implement lessons learnt from this summit sustainably,” minister Pohamba Shifeta said.

The announcement was made at an award ceremony that concluded the three-day event that saw African countries come together to spur innovation in the tourism industry amongst the youth.

The event saw the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST) signing a memorandum of understanding with the Durban University of Technology (DUT) which marks the start of a long-standing relationship between the two universities that will see students taking part in exchange programmes between the two countries and many other opportunities for students in tourism and hospitality.

AirlinePros Inc - through its CEO Achma Foster - will introduce a six-month internship programme for students interested in pursuing a career in aviation.

At the summit, a total of 36 countries attended the event with 700 conference attendees. It also saw 500 masterclass participants, with Shifeta adding: “The journey is forever, do not feel like you have arrived”.

Challenge winners

At the summit, youth from Africa were given the opportunity to present innovative ideas and stand the chance to win a cash prize to develop their ideas into a business as well as to receive mentorship from industry experts affiliated with the summit. Paulina Alfeus was awarded as the winner from the Namibian participants. She creates furniture from recycled oil barrels and sells it to the Namibian tourism industry. Her business is called Fredina Trading. Alfeus is a boilermaker by profession and holds a qualification from the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology.

She shared her excitement on winning US$500 (N$7 920). “Every cent counts,” she said, adding that she will be using the money for the marketing of her business.

Alfeus will also receive a scholarship from DUT as well as mentorship and will be provided with a network of manufacturers in South Africa.

Zimbabwean challenge participant Jeffrey Takundamurugweni was crowned the winner of all the challenge winners. His idea looks to use the WhatsApp platform to create a chat board to direct tourism enquiries as well as various services within a platform called Traffiki Africa.

“It will act as a centralised platform for key tourism services,” Takundamurugweni said, further explaining that because of the widespread and global use of WhatsApp, it proved to be a lucrative and sustainable way for Zimbabweans to book accommodation and obtain information. The 19-year-old’s idea stemmed from his experience wanting to travel with his family after the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted and the difficulties he experienced looking for a suitable place.

He also received a cash prize of US$500. The prize will assist him to further establish and develop his platform.

Maria Shipapo, a Namibian youth, was the first runner-up from the top three Namibian entries, with her business MISTAL (MIST Agricultural Laboratory). She currently heads the innovation of the all-female agricultural laboratory. With her business, she and her team members analyse soil for the production of crops. The team of young researchers focus on soil management, pest management and food science, and come equipped with a research team.

At the summit, Shipapo pitched the different uses of indigenous crops in the industry to be sold in the Namibian market.

The Namibian participants made up three from the six participants who took part in the innovation challenge.