Djibouti East African International Special Business District supports innovation and entrepreneurship of African youths

Updated: December 19, 2022 Source: China Merchants Group
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Employment is an urgent social issue in Djibouti. According to relevant statistics from the United Nations, 70 percent of Africa's 1.3 billion people are under 30 years old. African youth are in need of strengthening vocational education and skill upgrading, so as to increase effective employment, turn potential demographic dividends into real development impetus, and promote local economic development and social stability. With the rapid economic development, more young entrepreneurs have emerged in Africa in recent years. As an important part of China Merchants Group's overseas promotion and replication of the PPC model of "port-park-city", Djibouti East Africa International Special Business District has undertaken the vital mission of providing urban supporting upgrading for local industrial development, and has also taken the initiative to take the social responsibility of guiding and helping local youths in employment and entrepreneurship.

The Special Promotion Complex facility in the Djibouti East African International Special Business District (Photo provided by China Merchants Group)

China Merchants Group, together with Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority (DPFZA) and China Chamber of Commerce in Djibouti, implemented the "African Youth Innovation and Entrepreneur Program". China Merchants Foundation donated 767,000 U.S. dollars for the first phase to build and regularly operate the "African Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training Center" project in the East Africa International Special Business Zone. The project provides "one-stop" comprehensive leadership and employment development services for young people in Djibouti and the East Africa region. By employing professional instructors to provide online and offline training and cooperating with multiple resources of entrepreneurship and innovation space carriers and operation carriers, the project also offers strong support for the development of quality workforce and future leaders in Africa. The project has effectively promoted China-Africa cooperation, and has been recognized and supported by many ministries and commissions such as the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

On June 23, 2022, Guelleh, President of Djibouti, and Hu Bin, Ambassador to Djibouti, jointly unveiled the Special Promotion Complex. (Photo provided by China Merchants Group)

On September 15, 2022, the first-phase training camp on digital innovation and cross-border e-commerce was opened at the African Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training Center. 26 outstanding young entrepreneurs from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda were publicly selected into the first-phase training camp. They attended professional courses offered by internationally renowned professors and industry elites, with the content covering development economics, startup management, leadership and organizational behavior, cross-border e-commerce, logistics and payment, e-commerce marketing, operation management, etc. They also went to the ports and international free trade zones in Djibouti for on-the-spot investigation, and conducted topic discussion or project design on how to carry out China-Africa cross-border e-commerce projects in East Africa. The courses in the training camp were well received by the trainees for the professionalism, interactivity and practicality of the content.

Entrepreneurship and innovation space for youth in Djibouti and East Africa (Photo provided by China Merchants Group)

After the first-phase training, the African Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training Center will continue to follow up the cooperation between entrepreneurial teams and top domestic institutions, and provide remote tutoring services such as general education about entrepreneurship and advancement acceleration, as well as other services such as accurate matchmaking of entrepreneurial enterprise resources and venture capital institutions. Besides, the center will duly launch a touring program that offers young entrepreneurs face-to-face exchange opportunities with Chinese enterprises. The center will also select excellent projects to participate in the entrepreneurship competition.

In addition, the center plans to recruit 20 to 30 outstanding representatives from Djibouti and East Africa every year to participate in learning, training and practice, and strives to cultivate 150 young leaders or elite entrepreneurs for Africa within five years and complete the incubation of representative entrepreneurial projects. In the future, the center plans to introduce external financial support, invest in suitable local projects and follow-up cultivation and withdrawal, effectively combine "external promotion" with "endogenous power", and transform talent introduction based assistance to talent cultivation based assistance. It will endeavor to make these projects real drivers for local innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable development, and make them demonstration projects of people-to-people bonds that can be replicated and can promote China-Africa cooperation.

The Youth Innovation Center recruits outstanding students from Djibouti and East African countries. (Photo provided by China Merchants Group)

Editor: Yu Huichen