As expected, , Nigeria Innovation Summit 2019 (#NIS2019), tagged ‘Accelerating Nigeria’s Economic Growth Through Innovation’ presented opportunity for thought-provoking discussions, data, opinions and launching of innovative solutions and permeated to the realm of how and why Nigeria and indeed Africa cannot do without innovation.
From one speech to another, panel session, presentations and group discussions, it was obvious that indeed “Innovation is the hallmark of entrepreneurship”.
The Summit speakers agree that opportunities in Africa are still waiting for entrepreneurs who have the ideas and might to pursue them.
Here are the Synopsis of presentations at the two-day event held at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja on August 20 and 21, 2019:
What is the theme all about?
In his address, the CEO, Emerging Media and Conveners of the Nigeria Innovation Summit (NIS), Mr. Kenneth Omeruo, tried to explain why Nigeria cannot do without innovative technologies. He said that events across the globe are characterised by emerging technologies that are driving great innovations.
“The opportunities around these technologies are giving birth to new business models, disruptive ideas, which cut across all sectors, creating enormous wealth for organisations, businesses, entrepreneurs, and the nations, who understand the times”, Mr. Omeruo said.
He added that as an organisation they have decided to contribute their quota in creating this forum that will increase awareness on the need for Nigeria to really embrace and invest in innovation at different levels and across different sectors.
“It is also important to note that innovation does not happen in isolation but needs a healthy ecosystem driven by great need for collaboration. Such an ecosystem is usually facilitated by the government in collaboration with the private sector, innovators, and the academics, each playing their key role to build the ecosystem”, he said.
NCC sponsors innovation-oriented research projects – Prof. Danbatta
First, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Keynote Speaker, Professor Umar Danbatta, said that Commissions’ activities in the recent years are geared toward promoting research, development and innovation across the ecosystem.
The EVC who was represented by the NCC’s Director of Research and Development (DRD), Dr. Ephraim Nwokonneya, said that, more importantly and in line with its commitment to promoting innovation to drive digital transformation, the Commission too the decision, which was in line with the provisions of the National Telecommunications Policy 2000 and the Nigerian National ICT Policy 2012, is helping the Commission to stimulate and sustain innovations in the ICT industry.
He said, “Suffice it to say that from 2013 to date, the Commission has disbursed millions of Naira, in grants, to sponsor innovation-oriented research projects in tertiary institutions and other research institutes.
“For instance, in May this year, the NCC announced N40 million endowment fund for Bayero University, Kano and the Federal University of Technology, Owerri. The fund will be utilized by the institutions for innovation, research and development in the digital space with an ongoing commitment to expand the list of benefiting institutions.
He recalled that another area where NCC has been playing a pivotal role in promoting investment opportunities and innovation within the digital ecosystem for economic growth is in exposing young Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) owners in the ICT industry to global investment opportunities.
UK is interested in innovative strides in Nigeria – Ms Thompson
The Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission, Ms Harriet Thompson disclosed that the United Kingdom Government is interested in supporting innovative solutions in Nigeria.
She maintained that innovation is the power to drive economic growth and provide jobs which both countries need.
She spoke briefly on the benefits innovation brings to the clime which embraces it as a way of life.
Applying Open Innovation to SMEs – Prof. Wim
The Professor of Strategy & Innovation Management, Neoma Business School Paris, France, Prof Vanhaverbeke Wim, shared that a product test facility is needed where SMEs can test and develop their own products, so that data becomes the basis for the products.
He also gave a list which serves as guidelines to help fix the mindset of Entrepreneurs, Founders and Co-Founders on practising Open Innovation in their SMEs and Startups.
- Small firms can be highly competitive through asset-light strategies. You need a smart strategy
- It is all about you – your sense of entrepreneurship
- Be ready to face and manage some challenges and failures
- Learn how to manage an external network of partners
- Share the risks and costs, but also the profits and visibility
- It is a never-ending journey, but rewarding, changing and transforming your company into a vibrant place and changing you as a person and an entrepreneur.
Role of innovation-based research in driving innovation in Nigeria – Prof. Emeagwali
An Associate Professor and Director, Centre for Management Research (CMR), Girme American University, Cyprus, Prof. Lawrence Emeagwali, shared interesting facts about basic research and exponential technology.
According to him, exponential technologies are more funded by governments than any other body, an example being Baby Formula which was invented by research funded by NASA while the researchers were looking for nutritious options for Astronauts. Such researches which lead to exponential technologies take time, an average of 30 years, to create and mature.
He iterated that basic research is at the core of innovation as it leads to new knowledge and makes it possible for entrepreneurs to provide consumers with an enhanced level of utility.
Driving growth through innovation
Sharing a little about Nigeria’s economy, where he revealed that the Nigerian economy is being supported by remittances from Diaspora, and more funds are expected to flow in from that source as the years go by, the Advisory Partner and Chief Economist, PwC, West Africa, Dr. Andrew Nevin, disclosed that Nigeria has lots of great things tied down to unproductive uses.
Sharing further that 85% of the children in Lagos State attend private schools because the government cannot deliver, he reminded the audience that technology is not a luxury for Nigeria, but a necessity which is needed for the country to be prosperous.
The effect of technology and innovation on the future of Africa – Prof. Quaynor
“Computing and communication are at the heart of innovation. Africa needs to be more innovative,” says Africa Internet Pioneer and Chairman, Ghana Dot Com, Prof. Nii Quaynor. He also shared that Africa needs to innovate to become globally competitive.
Using the fallen glory of Alaba International Market, which used to be a known place for repair of digital hardware, as an example, he defined innovation as the extra steps which are added to get products, services or processes in a market place. Africa is expected to create value by solving proven market needs, even if it is not as network-enabled as it can be.
While he acknowledged that Africa needs to learn from others’ mistakes and those in the Diaspora need to pay back to mama Africa, we should stop importing solutions and learn to solve our own problems.
In conclusion, the grey-haired, wide smiling, stooping Professor shared that innovation thrives more in an open environment where there is sharing, caring and order and if we solve Africa’s problems, we might be solving a global problem.
[You can read further about Prof. Nii Quaynor’s speech HERE]
Open Innovation, partnerships needed to drive innovation – Tosin Faniro-Dada
The Head, Startups (Lagos Innovates), Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Tosin Faniro-Dada, believes that open innovation and partnerships are like two sides of a coin in drive innovation in Lagos State.
Therefore, through the special purpose vehicle, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), they have launched a number of programs aimed at making it easier to build successful tech startups in Lagos State.
These programs, Faniro-Dada, said at the Summit, help founders and startups by facilitating access to infrastructure, talent, investor and peer networks. “We also source for partnerships for Lagos Innovates to help widen our reach and provide experience and expertise in areas that we are testing”, she explained.
Driving Innovation in Nigeria through a virtual platform – Mr. Ajah
The Programme Director, NIS, Tony Ajah shared insights into the need for a virtual platform for innovators.
This collaborative (virtual) platform – Open Innovation (OI) Nigeria, he shared passionately, will serve as an open ecosystem of innovators, connecting solution seekers to solution providers.
This platform, he envisioned, will empower entrepreneurs with problem-solving skills and eliminate time and acceleration constraints.
He opined that such a platform will foster the creation of an innovative and knowledge-based economy.
This kind of economy would then, in turn, allow Nigerians to leverage local innovations in solving local issues.
…To be continued