There Must Be Collaboration To Enhance Innovation

by Business Watch Team

The Nairobi Innovation Week, a two-day event at the University of Nairobi, brought together academia, industry stakeholders, innovators, and start-ups as well as the student community to bolster the country’s innovation ecosystem through this year’s theme dubbed ‘Strengthening Innovation Ecosystem in Higher Education Institutions through Academia-Industry-Government-Community Linkages for Sustainable Development’.

The Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade & Industry Rebecca Miano called for stronger linkages between training institutions and the industry. “I have a target to double foreign direct investments as well as domestic investments, increase exports, reduce imports of products that we can produce in the country, and grow our manufacturing industry from 7.6% to 15% to drive a double-digit economy by 2027. This can only be possible through accelerating innovation in this country which is key for industrial breakthroughs and economic growth. I commend the University of Nairobi for bringing together many stakeholders today within the innovation ecosystem,” said Ms Miano.

Speaking during the event Absa Kenya MD Abdi Mohamed said Kenya is a pivotal market for innovation. Globally, it is viewed as one of the hotspots of innovation in agriculture, health, and fintech sectors gaining the name ‘Silicon Savannah’ for Kenya.

The youth population stands at 19.5 million, projected to increase by 16 percent to 22.7 million by 2030. Many of these young people are well-educated and inclined towards innovation-driven growth. In the investment space, in 2023, Kenya was the largest recipient of fintech investments across the African continent, receiving approximately 670 billion dollars spread across 665 start-ups, making Kenya Africa’s top destination for start-up funding.  The technology landscape has rapidly evolved and as of March 31, 2023, the number of mobile subscribers reached 66.1 million, with 17.86 million internet users recorded in January 2023.

“As a private sector, we have a big role to play in driving the innovation ecosystem and we are keen to be part of such conversations. Our approach as Absa is to look at innovation as an ecosystem in a way that can be commercialized to scale up ideas of our innovators and start-ups to be the next Absa or M-pesa through strategic partnerships that are crucial in taking this conversation to the next level,” said Mohamed.

“In the area of innovation, we prioritize entrepreneurial skills and entrepreneurship and prepare the youth of this country for the market; job market, and entrepreneurship. In 2017, we launched the Ready To Work program, an online free training program for young people, that targets to train 1 million youth and so far we have impacted over 300,000 young people with digital and soft skills to help them transition smoothly from institutions of higher learning to the job market,” he added.

Kenya’s workforce has been ranked among the best globally regarding innovation, creativity and productivity. The World Intellectual Property Organization ranked Kenya’s innovation ecosystem at number 8 out of 28 economies in Sub-Saharan Africa in its 16th edition of the 2023 Global Innovation Index Report.

“Our role is to transform our society and address the lack of employment and create wealth by building a strong innovation ecosystem. The Nairobi Innovation Week is a platform by the University of Nairobi to bring together different players and stakeholders, a linkage between the industry and the academia to provide solutions, that is through innovation and entrepreneurship, to problems that confront us as a nation and contribute to the 2063 African Agenda and the attainment of SDGs,” said University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Prof. Stephen Kiama.

The Nairobi Innovation Week is a 3-day event, hosted by the University of Nairobi, that brings together key stakeholders, innovators, students, government representatives and the private sector.

Related Content: Unlocking Healthcare Access in Africa: Innovations That Matter

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