Fund calls for boosting innovation and robust ecosystems in country

12Oct 2019
James Kandoya
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Fund calls for boosting innovation and robust ecosystems in country

THE Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) has underscored the need for strengthened collaboration with the government in supporting a more robust and interconnected innovation ecosystems.

HDIF’s team leader MarjolynWilmink said when speaking during Sahara Sparks 2019 organised by Sahara Ventures themed ‘Africa in The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

She said there was no way Tanzania could distance from digitalisation adding there is a need to engage the government in all stages of innovationsin the country.

She said there was a lively scene of hubs, labs, and accelerators in Tanzania – mainly clustered in and around Dar es Salaam and other urban centers – that were key spaces for young people to access skills and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Wilmink noted that cross-sectoral investment and support was necessary to build the capacity of hubs and the activities and services that they provide, including mentoring, facilitating connections to funders and investors.

According to her, the support should look not only across sectors, but across regions and different types of hubs.

“It is crucial that investment should connect clients with markets and we must always create innovation on what the government is actually focusing and its priorities,” said Wilmink in her presentation titled ‘Nurturing the Innovation Ecosystem in Tanzania’.

One of the panelists from Kenya,Emma Nkonoki said investment on human resources, domestic investment and training to local people were main keys to reach the success to achieve innovation ecosystem.

Tanzania’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index has climbed 31positions in the last five years from 123 in 2013 to 92 in 2018.
New start-ups and hubs are cropping up every day and there is a growing awareness of the role that innovation can play in finding solutions to large and pervasive development challenges.

Whilst Tanzania has progressed, the innovation ecosystem is still in its early stage where institutions are constrained by limited resources and competing priorities.

The Tanzanian innovation ecosystem is improving but is also fragile – with actors and the linkages between them still mostly in the formative stage. As new players appear, old ones change or disappear overnight only to reappear, sometimes in an entirely new role.

Innovation investors – including bi-lateral donors, foundations, government, and the private sector – have a part to play in supporting a more robust and interconnected ecosystem, beyond simply protecting and growing their investments.