Africa, where 30% of the world’s natural resources are found is deemed to be potentially one of the richest continent in the globe. However the reality paints a grim picture of the continent, inhibited by 15% of the global population, majority of them wallowing in poverty and unemployment.
Over the years there has been an omnipresent and nearly deafening phenomenon that the panacea to the vexed problem of wealth and employment creation, is for Africa to embark on the process of investing in research and innovation initiatives. Some argue that innovation is fundamental to addressing socio-economic challenges in this fast-paced, technology and knowledge-driven economy.
Speaking during an Innovation Incubation seminar at JKUAT, August 23, 2018, Mr. Kangunda Chege, CEO Halisi Group says that for the enterprise of innovation to work in the continent, innovators need to exploit local resources and draw from global advances to serve Africa’s masses.
“It is time to think outside the box and come up with innovations that addresses the needs of the people,” said Mr. Chege.
Mr. Chege acknowledged that for the innovation ecosystem to be viable and productive we need a balance between large innovations such as Safaricom that serves hundreds of Kenyans and grassroot innovations such as Magiro hydropower that powers up to 350 rural homes.
“For the grassroot innovations, which are mostly driven by necessity to be sustainable, the academia ought to step in through R&D and help them upscale these innovations to commercialisation,” opined Mr. Chege.
With twenty years of experience in strategy and leadership development, Mr. Chege attests that one of the major hindrance in commercialisation of innovations is the lack of a well thought out strategy. According to the CEO, for commercialisation to be achieved we require an innovative strategy that becomes our way of thinking and empowers the innovators to act locally with a global view point.
“Innovation is rarely a smooth process. The innovators need an enabling environment that develops their capacity to react effectively with the ecosystem challenges and tap into local resources to realise transformative impact,” said Mr. Chege.
He further added that linkages between the right private sector players and innovators is vital in actualizing the innovators idea, capturing the value of the innovation and driving the innovation to the commercialisation stage. This helps in identifying what resources are required to ensure that the innovation comes to fruition.
This is the first seminar on Innovation Incubation in a series of ten seminars organised by AFRICA-ai-Japan project in a bid of transforming JKUAT into an entrepreneurial University.
The Project Manager, Prof. Martin Obanda, said he hopes the seminars will challenge researchers to develop, transfer and commercialise innovative products and technology for sustainable development in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.