In response to the challenges imposed on young Africans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Idea2Market and its partners are offering free discussions and consultations for young African innovators and entrepreneurs. Despite the adverse effects on countries and markets, the current situation also provides an opportunity for innovators in Africa to re-think product and technological innovations that will help the continent deal with the pandemic in the short term and at the same time propel the continent to greater technological heights.
The InnovACTION intitiave is a practical, problem-solving online support to African innovators and entrepreneurs. It helps them to enhance their product and technological innovations during a period when most onsite activities are impossible to access. The sessions will be delivered by African and global volunteer experts and they will be implemented remotely. These discussions will be based purely in the African context of innovations, including factors such as innovation infrastructure, innovative capacity, product and market innovations and other critical elements that hinder innovation development.
Throughout the economic history of the world, technological innovations have been critical to the sustainability of development in all societies. Technology has always been the foundation of any society’s socio-economic development. Historically, Africa’s path to industrialization and competitiveness has been characterized by importing technologies to add value to the abundant natural resources rather than by technology transfer or the commercialization of home-grown inventions. However, there is little evidence that any country has transformed by adding value to resources. What successful countries have done is to create technological and process innovations around their natural resources, accompanied by learning and innovation.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, African innovators and entrepreneurs had been making tremendous efforts in creating and accelerating projects, all with the view to creating the much-needed products, technologies and business ventures that Africa required. In addition to the existing challenges that African entrepreneurs and innovators faced (e.g. capacity to innovate, the lack of finance and the lack of innovation infrastructure and support from policy makers), the full or partial lockdowns and shrinking market space, which have been resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, have imposed additional challenges. Despite the adverse effects on countries and markets, the current situation also provides a unique opportunity for innovators in Africa to re-think product and technological innovations that will help the continent deal with the pandemic in the short term and, at the same time, propel the continent to greater technological heights. Disruptions in global value chains on which Africa depended for product and technology imports impose a sense of urgency on African innovators to accelerate solutions to bridge the gap created by the market disruptions.
InnovACTION was established to offer African entrepreneurs and innovators the much-needed support in accelerating their products/services, ameliorating existing technologies and re-thinking business models for the post-COVID-19 period. It provides existing African entrepreneurs and innovators with an opportunity to re-think their products and technologies in readiness for the post-COVID-19 market environment.