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Shenzhen boosts Ethiopia's entrepreneurs

By Zhou Mo in Shenzhen | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-12 11:13
The Pingan International Financial Center and other buildings are seen in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. [Photo/VCG]

Guangdong province's Shenzhen, known as China's Silicon Valley, is leveraging its expertise in entrepreneurship and innovation to boost international cooperation with economies that are participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, such as Ethiopia.

It is spearheading a collaborative project called Designed in Ethiopia with the aim of connecting the resources of the two sides.

Four senior experts from Shenzhen went to Ethiopia to share their entrepreneurial experience, and give guidance and training to local people, helping them to incubate innovative projects by connecting them with Shenzhen's resources.

Michael Eagleton, an Australian entrepreneur and maker collaborator who came to Shenzhen in 1997 to explore opportunities in the then burgeoning Chinese market, is one of the four experts. "There is a massive need and market for electronics in Ethiopia," he said.

Shenzhen's well-established supply chain and strong hardware manufacturing capability match with Ethiopia's demand. They can help the country to achieve its goal of becoming an electronics regional center in East Africa, Eagleton said at a forum during the National Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation Week 2018, an event that kicked off in Shenzhen on Tuesday.

Ethiopia is accelerating its pace of industrialization. It is making efforts to transform its economy by building 30 environmentally friendly industrial parks by 2020 and become one of the 10 technology-driven economies in Africa, said Teferi Melesse Desta, Ethiopian consul-general in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province.

China's capability in innovation will help Ethiopia realize that goal and achieve rapid development, he said.

Enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and innovation has been rising in China as the country strives to shift from an economy fueled by exports and investment to one that relies on innovation and consumption upgrade.

The central government issued a document last month on upgrading mass entrepreneurship and innovation, including strengthening international cooperation in the field.

According to the guideline, support should be given to promote mass entrepreneurship and innovation in countries and regions participating in the BRI.

It urged all the players concerned to establish bilateral cooperation programs between governments and make full use of international cooperation forums as a platform to increase people-to-people exchanges.

"As Africa transitions from the margins to the mainstream of the global economy, technology is to a greater extent playing a critical role," said George Adwek, innovation and partnership director of Kenyan company Sunpawa Energy.

There are huge opportunities to be explored in Africa's maker ecosystem and greater cooperation will bring benefits for both sides, he said.

"Maker" is a term used in China to refer to the startup ecosystem involving founders, incubators, and accelerators.

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