The Story

Kusi Ideas Festival

The Beginning

It's all in the wind

Nation Media Group (NMG) launched the Kusi Ideas Festival early in 2019 as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, to be an “ideas transaction market” for the challenges facing Africa, and the various solutions and innovations the continent is undertaking to secure its future in the 21st century.

Kusi is the southerly tradewind that blows over the Indian Ocean between April to mid-September, and enabled trade up north along the east African coast and between Asia and Africa for millennia.

Beyond trade, over the centuries, Kusi and other tradewinds made possible cultural, intellectual, and technological exchanges, and considerably shaped the history of the nations on the east side of Africa, its hinterland, and the wider Indian Ocean rim.

In the 21st century, the spirits of the tradewinds express themselves in new ways. The Indian Ocean is a rich bed of the fibre optic cables that make the Information Age possible in a large part of Africa.

The inaugural festival, co-hosted by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, was convened under the theme, “The Next 60 years in Africa” on 8th – 9th December 2019, in Kigali, Rwanda, as the highlight event of NMG’s 60th anniversary celebrations. The conference attracted 1,600 delegates (business leaders, policy makers, diplomats, innovators, researchers, young entrepreneurs, and students) from five continents and was graced by H.E. President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa Union Commission Chairperson H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat and Africa Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development and former Prime Minister of Kenya, H.E. Rt. Hon Raila Odinga. In attendance also were business leaders, policy makers, diplomats, innovators, researchers, young entrepreneurs, and students, among others. The festival was covered widely by media across Africa and had a large social media engagement averaging 500 million impressions.

The second edition of the festival, hosted under the theme “Towards a Post-Covid Africa: Recovering Together” was held against the backdrop of a global pandemic and sought to explore the impact of Covid-19 on the African continent and the innovations, opportunities and partnerships that will enable it to survive and thrive in a post pandemic world. It was attended by 14,000 participants virtually – from 44 countries and 83 major cities – and 230 delegates in person. Notably, it reached over 460 million social media users. The festival was awarded second place in the “Best Use of an Event to build a News Brand” category at the International News Media Association (INMA) Global Media Awards 2021.

The 2021 edition, co-hosted by H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, and attended by H.E. Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda and H.E Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda in Accra, under the theme, How Africa Transforms after the Virus, attracted global audiences and won recognition as Best Use of an Event to Build a News Brand at the 2022 INMA Global Awards. 

The 2022 festival, hosted in Nairobi, Kenya, was held under the theme “Climate Change: Exploring African responses and Solutions”, on the backdrop of COP27, which had just been concluded in Egypt. The theme focused on climate change, the impact it has had on the continent and the adaptation and mitigation measures that stakeholders must put in place to drive sustainable action to protect people and the planet. In keeping with previous festivals’ high engagement, it had 50 speakers from 19 countries. There were 524 in-person delegates, and 3,449 virtual delegates. It recorded 1.83 million TV views, and 28.6 million users engaged with it on social media from 31 countries.