A speech delivered by Anna Ekeledo, Executive Director, AfriLabs at the 2020 AfriLabs Annual Gathering.
Good morning to everyone here today. To our innovation hub members logged in from all over Africa and our diaspora members from all over the world, we are really excited and grateful to have you with us today. We are one large family and we have supported each other through the years in the work we do building an innovation-driven economy in Africa and particularly this really tough year with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Thank you!
Good morning to all our partners, funders, friends and larger community of innovators, entrepreneurs and startups from across over 47 African countries and beyond. We welcome you today. Before we move on the main programme for today and hand over to our Board Chair to give the Official Opening Address, I would like to draw your attention to the ongoing situation in Nigeria. We young people in Nigeria and all over the world are calling for the end of the Nigerian Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a corrupt unit of the Nigerian police.
Over the weekend, unfortunately, our peaceful protests have been met with violent responses from the police, which has led to the deaths of 9 protesters including a 10-year-old boy, with many more arrested or missing.
Why is this important to talk about on this platform? Because young people, including those within the Nigerian tech and creative communities, might be facing harassment by a police officer (or more) and tend to be targeted for moving about with laptops, smartphones, looking casually dressed, or even successful. They have been searched, robbed, brutalized, gone missing, and killed for no reason!!
At AfriLabs, our vision is an innovation-driven economy in Africa, driven by the power of our Community. As such, we cannot be silent when our community members are being killed by police brutality in Nigeria or any other African country. I call on everyone who cares about the growth, safety and lives of our young people in Africa to speak up on these heinous crimes against our people and make a call that – and I quote – hashtag #SARSMustEnd!
Thank you! Now I will hand over to Rebecca Enonchong, Board Chair of AfriLabs for her Official Opening Remark.
From the time of the speech was made to the time of the publication at 12 October 2020, another death allegedly by the police has been recorded at the protests.
Read all you need to know about police brutality and the Nigerian Tech Ecosystem here.