Supporting young African innovators is indeed crucial for development

09Sep 2020
The Guardian
Supporting young African innovators is indeed crucial for development

​​​​​​​Innovation is one of the most important contributors to economic growth in any market. Innovators create wealth, attract investment and provide job opportunities. They also create new supply chains and boost exports. This is a universal reality.  

Africa has a context of its own. Many African nations are growing in a post-colonial and or post-conflict environment with deficits in skills, technologies and infrastructure. However, the continent’s booming economies have given birth to a new wave of  opportunity entrepreneurs  whereby young people see new opportunities in a growing market. Africa’s burgeoning middle class is creating new consumer demand for products and services that never existed before.

Innovation in its modern meaning is  a new idea, creative thoughts, new imaginations in form of device or method. Innovation is often also viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs.

Such innovation takes place through the provision of more-effective products, processes, services, technologies, or business models that are made available to markets, governments and society. An innovation is something original and more effective and, as a consequence, new, that  breaks into  the market or society.

Innovation is related to, but not the same as, invention, as innovation is more apt to involve the practical implementation of an invention. Not all innovations require an invention. Innovation often manifests itself via the engineering process, when the problem being solved is of a technical or scientific nature. The opposite of innovation is exnovation.

In economics, management science, and other fields of practice and analysis, innovation is generally considered to be the result of a process that brings together various novel ideas in such a way that they affect society.[ In industrial economics, innovations are created and found[ empirically from services to meet growing consumer demand.  

It is good news  that the Africa Telecommunication Union(ATU) has launched the regional Innovations Challenge 2020 in a move to identify and support young African innovators who have developed mobile applications useful for benefiting the fight to contain COVID-19' and possibly other emergency situations in Africa in future.

According to the ATU Secretary General John Omo, top prize winner in the competition is expected to carry home a cash award of USD 5000 aside from being engaged in other mentorship and partnership programmes. 

 Indeed, this challenge will be instrumental in recognizing, testing and highlighting disruptive innovations and new business models that have the capacity to redefine Africa. We should stressed on the importance of African institutions to support initiatives that create, innovate and deliver for the continent. To do so  it requires a concerted effort from stakeholders at all levels.

The launch event brought together a number of innovators, ICT ministries and regulators, the academia and ICT organisations. Innovation has become the key differentiating element that can give economic opportunities to our young people. 

For over 20 years Huawei has been building ICT infrastructure, promoting ICT skills and enabling ICT innovation across Africa. We believe the trustworthy partner can support this initiative with their expertise, insight and experience both globally and locally.  

We underscore  the value of innovative approaches towards growth in the continent as well as dedication to investing in talent development. We also believe that ATU  can bring out the creativity and entrepreneurship residing in the African youth.  

The ATU innovation challenge is an initiative that seeks to provide both short and long-term solutions and opportunities to the African Youth. With increased suppression of the social fabric in many communities in Africa as a result of COVID-19, and in consideration of the fact that a large population of Africa are youths who are generally living in difficult conditions, the competition promotes the idea that the ability for countries' readiness for digital solutions, could significantly help address some of these challenges.The event was also used to unveil ATU's new logo as part of the Union's re-branding effort.

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