CMU-Africa Innovation Summit 2024

Hope Reveche

Mar 28, 2024

View photos from the summit

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Event dinner

Carnegie Mellon University Africa’s Center for Inclusive Digital Transformation of Africa held their 2024 Innovation Summit earlier this year from January 24 to 26, hosting students from 17 different countries across Africa as well as some from CMU’s own Tepper School of Business. Organized by the Industry Innovation Laboratory (IIL), the summit built upon the entrepreneurial spirit and collaboration from the first Entrepreneurship Forum back in 2022.

The IIL’s goal is to develop and nurture technology startups and help their students develop the entrepreneurial mindset. By attending the summit, students would learn how to not only enhance their teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills but also build connections with diverse peers from Africa and beyond. Another one of the major aims of the summit was to expose students to numerous career opportunities in entrepreneurship, including becoming startup founders and securing positions in already established companies.

"The idea was to inspire students to think and act like entrepreneurs. To help them develop a mindset that allows them to take initiative to solve problems and use this experience to potentially create startups and businesses in the future," says Stanley Mukasa, associate director of entrepreneurship at CMU-Africa.

The summit’s main activities included guest speakers, panel discussions, and other workshops, in addition to a "hackathon"-style grand challenge where the 100 attendees were grouped up into 16 interdisciplinary teams and asked to develop tech-enabled solutions to meaningful problems. Each team pitched their ideas to a panel of judges, and four teams were selected to give an additional final presentation on the last day.

"All of the final teams won prizes like tablets or Bluetooth speakers, but I think the major win was in having them convene in one place to connect and exchange ideas," Mukasa says.

The students who attended also had plenty to reflect on and share regarding the summit: "This summit has further built on CMU's training by offering insight into what the industry currently needs. It has allowed an array of experts to share their insights and experiences from industry, academia, and government, exposing students to an entrepreneurial perspective. As a CMU student, I am confident that I have developed skills that will make me unique in the industry and enable me to help solve some of the world's most complex problems, especially within the myriad opportunities available in Africa," shares Muhammad Aliyu (MSIT '25).

For future summits, Mukasa hopes that they will be able to host more students and give them more time to develop their solutions and pitches. "At first, 17 universities seemed scary, but I could see the entrepreneurial excitement that came out of just 17. I think we always forget the experience that these kinds of things build within students’ minds; it is a strong foundation upon which groundbreaking future ideas can be built. Maybe next year, we’ll grow that number to 30 — I think we have the potential to do that," Mukasa says.

Watch highlight videos from the summit