Quick recap: Is “Good” Good Enough for Africa?

Kids pushing a Hippo Roller, a water drum that can be rolled on the ground, so people with injuries, the elderly, children and the like can transfer water from a source far from their homes, into their kitchens. Source:How South Africa

Africa is known as a tourism destination, an untapped area when it comes to investment and the dark continent-perhaps. To worldwide travellers, we are known for our beautiful landscape, diverse cultures, and languages. However, very little is known about how diverse, dynamic and highly innovative Africa’s culture is. Innovation in Africa is the purest form: innovation out of necessity. Not angry birds, the innovations emerging from Africa allow farmers to check where they can get the best price for their produce, warning on the storms for the fishermen and send mobile money even from the remote rural areas using mobile money transfer. Even the pay-as-you-go payment system pioneered in Africa. For instance, in the East African region, the M-Pesa service has revolutionized money transfer and made transactions easier and at the same time helped boost the economy.

However, regardless of the resources, knowledge, and technology at Africa’s disposal- it is a long way from translating those advances into decent lives for all its people. Despite innovation by business both large or small the central to close the gap in solving the world’s challenges, nothing much has changed.

World Bank launches agri-tech platform to boost the agriculture sector in Kenya. Photo source: Food Business Africa

Innovation in agriculture has improved immensely but the continent still grapples of hunger and the need to import more to feed some nations. For instance, to meet the food and nutrition requirements, African countries import about $25 billion worth of food each year, yet there are innovations adapted to reduce post-harvest losses and also address the drought-prone areas.

The right kind of innovation is needed to propel growth in Africa, for an impact to be felt by the vulnerable in the ‘food chain.’ Africa’s innovation is dependent on minds, not mines. This is according to the Deloitte report presented at the world economic forum on Africa in 2016. The report seeks to invest in innovation as an absolute and fundamental shift in the continent’s traditional way of doing business.

With a population that sees 60 percent under the age of 35; valuable resources and the right set of skills could fuel innovation and ultimately growth in Africa. Competitive economies with consistent community inclusion and national growth generate a higher return on investments is hinged on the capacity of the resident labor market to create innovative solutions that impact the domestic and international market as well. In the long-run, this has a positive impact on the citizens and economic growth.

Impactful innovation starts with an education that nurtures creative thinking for the future we intend to create. This expounds on the local skills and talent for creative solutions and exercises innovation muscles among the citizenry.

Support for innovation at local levels in Africa could attract more global firms and tech hubs. These tech hubs could be anything from incubators, co-working spaces, and accelerators just to mention a few. These tech hubs provide space and a platform for the locals to exercise their creativity and develop various solutions.

Therefore, until innovation is meaningful and focuses shifts to all inclusion, sustainable impact on the community and economic development will be a word of mouth. There is a need to enhance an atmosphere that encourages innovation, provides an environment in which it is safe to fail and harness the power of partnerships, collaboration, and research to size down the solutions or products to particular niche markets.

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