ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

Growing impact of Africa’s innovation hubs ecosystem [ICT Clinic]

History was made a few weeks ago when some stakeholders of the African tech and innovation ecosystem converged at the African Union for the 4th edition of Afrilabs annual gathering, a yearly event designed to bring together hubs from over 40 African countries into a location, with the sole aim of discussing the way forward for tech and innovation in Africa.

The role a body like Afrilabs plays cannot be over-emphasised because this era presents a great opportunity for Africa and Africans to take charge and fashion out how the continent can be truly developed. Young innovators coming from Lagos, Douala, Kigali and Accra, among other cities, are testing, prototyping, building and in many cases, collaborating to solve various types of challenges. And this, indeed, is very heartwarming.

I had earlier planned to publish this piece immediately after returning from the event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but the nasty experience I had, with the NDLEA officials, which was published last week necessitated that it got delayed by one week. Anyway, I am glad that last week’s piece titled, ‘Our Airports Need The Latest Technology Equipment’, got published instead because, based on the feedback, a number of people, particularly, young people have either been intimidated or harassed by various officials at our International airports.

My hope is that someone is listening because at the end of the day, Africa’s future lies in her young. We have invested in them and should support them, not frustrate or intimidate them, especially, because many of those in authority simply do not understand how to view the world. I must, however, say that a lot seems to be changing because more traditional and bureaucratic institutions are now consciously trying to understand or even under-study the innovation ecosystem.

This is why hosting the 4th edition, of the Afrilabs Annual Gathering, right at the headquarters of the African Union is a welcome development and quite commendable. I believe it was a good start for the purpose of engagement but it must now be taken to the next level. The African Union should engage stakeholders to find how to provide the necessary support and required policies that will assist players in the ecosystem because what they have achieved, with little or no support is highly, commendable.

I believe that Africa needs to get to the full realisation that aids as it were, is not designed to develop Africa and this is evident from the fact that despite all the billions of dollars of aids received, the continent still faces numerous challenges. I belong to the school of thought that believes that what Africa needs to do is build the capacity of its entrepreneurs, particularly the young, to solve its own problems. This will eventually create more jobs but most importantly, help to fuel a system of improved efficiency and effectiveness.

Stories abound of various start-ups already changing the status quo in their respective countries, which is a trend that has to be encouraged. Tech and innovation hubs play an important role in all of this, which is precisely why Afrilabs, the umbrella body of hubs in Africa, — Finish Reading on the Punch