By Daniel Nonor
Will Africa be the next global success story in innovation? This is the question that over 200 selected thought leaders from 25 countries across the world are gathered in Kenya’s Rift Valley to address.
The aim of the first-ever Open Innovation Africa Summit (OIAS) is to stimulate critical thinking about the role of innovation in sustainable socio-economic development and to contribute to creating a conducive environment for innovative entrepreneurial activity in Africa.
The Summit intends to generate actionable ideas and recommendations for the gathered public policy specialists, researchers, entrepreneurs, ICT experts and financiers to take forward in their respective contexts for positive social impact.
The Summit is designed as a unique, three-day dialogue of critical minds and change agents intended to contribute to external dialogue and action on social innovation at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
So far, delegates have identified a number of key issues for in-depth discussion including the need to create sustainable systems in the knowledge economy, heightened focus on research and development capacity building, and the role of broader local, regional and international partnerships among all stakeholders as basic steps to catalyze new, demand-driven innovations to improve the quality of life in Africa.
Delegates have also highlighted the role of government in creating an enabling environment to foster innovation, ensuring continuity and predictability at the public institution level for continued knowledge development.
Considering that Africa has the highest penetration growth rate for mobile phones in the world, the role of mobile technology in building an information ecosystem will also be central in discussions at the Summit.
Currently, many countries in Africa are enjoying improved economic growth with some countries achieving as much as 12% GDP growth annually. There is increased investment and an increasingly attractive business environment.
The completion and operation of many submarine fibre optic cables linking Africa to the rest of the world has made more bandwidth available at significantly reduced prices making information more accessible to many more people. This also presents a valuable opportunity for young people to be heard and participate in development through information and ideas-sharing and entrepreneurship.