The influence of innovation on African countries’ developmental progress continues to be one of the most frequently discussed topics at high-powered meetings like this year’s World Economic Forum Africa. Many of the discussions on panels or in private conversations with presidents and captains of industry and leaders of social causes often come down to finding new approaches and principles to tackle many of the intractable challenges faced on the continent. Such new approaches underlie our philosophy in picking people for Quartz’s third edition of the Africa Innovators list. The word innovation is often linked with technology alone, but since our inaugural list our innovators have always been people with “big ideas, creative vision, entrepreneurship and homegrown, globally scalable problem-solving.” This year is no different.
Many wonder about the fate of Africa in 2017 when several of the world’s leading powers, like the US, have turned their focus inward. Yet, we’ve again identified more than 30 Africans who aren’t waiting for help from the outside. The influence of their work goes well beyond their immediate community and will ultimately impact millions of lives. They’re taking leadership and control in a wide range of fields including finance, healthcare, education, agriculture, design and many other fields.
The Quartz Africa team is especially proud of the women and men on the 2017 list; it’s our most widely represented group of innovators yet, picked from 18 countries. As with our 2016 and our inaugural 2015 innovators, it has been inspiring for us to follow the dedication, determination, and creative enterprise of each person here.
We congratulate everyone and recommend that you take time to follow their impressive work.
Yinka Adegoke, Quartz Africa editor
Berjo was commissioned to create a series of 33 illustrations featuring African innovators. These illustrations were a part of the third African Innovators list published by Quartz and these were also featured during Africa's Unicorn Effect panel discussion at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Durban,