The new directions and reform undertaken by the government of Ethiopia (GOE) that liberalizes the telco sector and puts digitization at the forefront of the country’s development agenda have led to much optimism, but uncertainty remains as to their pace and impact that is further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and by instances of ethnic and political violence currently happening in the country. With 60% of Ethiopia’s 113 million population currently being under the age of 24, and projected to double by 2050, the high unemployment rate with more than 2 million youth entering into the workforce, restless youth, food insecurity and increasing urbanization is exerting a huge pressure on natural resources, infrastructure, the economy, services, and political stability.

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Startup ecosystems are rather cultivated than created, they flourish on their own using existing research and knowledge base, capital, environments that are influenced by existing assets such as market opportunity, historic and cultural legacy, regulatory incentives, geographic location and perhaps most importantly, from existing firms with a high growth potential that have developed local solutions and have a deep knowledge of the local context and needs.

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Silicon Valley is a global center for high technology, innovation, and social media. With a population of eight million people, Israel also has over 6,000 startups and attracts more risk capital per person than any other country in the world. Both entrepreneurial ecosystems were built on a knowledge base that required billions of dollars of government investment and a culture that was influenced by their local context.

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