The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Accelerator Labs and AfriLabs have announced a partnership to advance innovation policy in Africa. The partnership was announced recently at an event hosted by AfriLabs as part of their 2021 Annual Gathering.
The partnership between the two well-established actors in the African innovation ecosystem is expected to focus on harnessing the knowledge of local innovators across the continent to close the gap towards the Sustainable Development Global Goals (SDGs). To date, Africa is only on track for Goal 14 (life below water), with a regression on Goals such as 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), which is why we urgently need to mobilize the collective intelligence of more than 1 billion Africans to accelerate progress toward these Goals.
While Africa is fuelled by an incredibly innovative community of grassroots innovators, youth and members of the informal sector, governments do not yet fully utilize this incredible potential. With this partnership the UNDP Accelerator Lab Network and AfriLabs bet on the African innovation ecosystem to increase its contribution to solving the continent’s most pressing development challenges and advance innovation policy in Africa.
Speaking on the partnership, Executive Director of AfriLabs, Anna Ekeledo, said “with our youth population projected to be over 500 million over the next 5 years, the importance of job creation cannot be understated, and innovation hubs act as a platform that build systems and businesses that create these jobs. We see this partnership as a powerful collaboration that can multiply the effect of our goals and we look forward to recording measurable impact tailored to revolutionize the innovation ecosystem in Africa.”
“Together, AfriLabs and the 35 UNDP Accelerator Labs in Africa will draw lessons from existing policies and develop a framework which will be shared as input for African leaders,” said Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP's Regional Bureau for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa. “This can shape inclusive innovation policies that will better address the complexity of current development challenges.”
“Bottom-up innovation plays a critical role if we want to accelerate progress towards the Goals,” said UNDP Accelerator Labs Team Leader, Gina Lucarelli. “We know there is power in the homegrown innovation happening across the continent and this partnership will help us tap into this potential. I am particularly excited about the upcoming national innovation policy dialogues we are co-organizing to surface what kind of innovation policies can unleash and enable all that power.”