U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at Solve IT! National Competition
Mosaic Hotel, Addis Ababa
September 22, 2018
(As prepared for delivery)
Her Excellency, Ms. Efra Ali, State Minister for Science and Technology.
Distinguished guests, friends and colleagues.
Thank you very much for being here this afternoon, as we celebrate the fantastic results of an amazing competition.
The name of this program says it all – Solve It.
As Ethiopia embarks on the hard work of building its brighter future, there will be challenges.
But as this competition shows, challenges exist to be solved, and the challenges Ethiopia faces will be solved first and foremost by Ethiopians.Each of you is living proof of this.
I just had the privilege of walking around and hearing about your projects, and I’m frankly amazed.
Safe methods for oxygen delivery for infants; an application to identify plant diseases; electronic shopping to support fairer and more accessible markets; biometric voter identification; smart irrigation programs; and rocket launches that literally shoot for the stars – these are just some of the amazing innovations you’ve designed.
I could happily spend the rest of my time up here celebrating the remaining ones, but I’ve got a few other points I want to make.
Point Number One is this: Your innovations show what Ethiopian youth can do, using Ethiopian materials and Ethiopian insights, to address Ethiopia’s challenges.
You are this country’s future, and this is Point Number Two: the United States supports you.
We do this by investing in the Ethiopians who will build this country’s bright future, and an example of this investment is the SolveIt program we’re celebrating today.
The United States asks for no repayment from such investments, and there’s no interest accrued, but we will undoubtedly see a return on our investment.
The return we expect from these investments is an even stronger Ethiopia – a new center of democracy, a thriving economic and trade hub, and a guarantor of security and stability in the wider region.
And the additional payoff for both our countries is an even stronger partnership between us.
Ethiopians across the country are excited by what you’ve accomplished.
We see this in the enthusiasm from investors, the media, government agencies, and the general public as we’ve shared your projects with them.
The enthusiasm on social media alone has been incredible.
Each time we’ve shared one of the regional winning projects, we’ve seen an outpouring of support from Ethiopians through thousands of likes, shares, and comments celebrating the achievements of their fellow citizens.
And the support and admiration you receive come from every quarter of Ethiopia, without regard for where you’re from, your gender, or what religion you practice.
I find that very encouraging, and I love that this program has brought all of you here together.
From all over Ethiopia, you’re here because of your talent, but I hope you’ve taken the time to build up more than just your projects.
And this is the final point I’d like to make: I hope you’ve built lasting connections with each other as well.
You’ve accomplished so much on your own; imagine what you can do by working together.
I know from seeing your projects that your imaginations are thriving.
So keep imagining, and remember that a challenge is just a problem looking for a solution.
Thank you for inspiring me, and for inspiring your fellow Ethiopians.
The United States is behind you every step of the way.