United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Accelerator Labs and AfriLabs have partnered to promote innovation policy in Africa.
This was recently announced in a hybrid event hosted by AfriLabs as part of its 2021 Annual Gathering which included a path forward for both organisations following the partnership.
AfriLabs Executive Director, Anna Ekeledo and UNDP Nigeria Accelerator Lab Focal Point Senior Advisor, William Tsuma, attended the event physically at the ImpactCove Hub, Abuja, Nigeria.
Ahunna Eziakonwa, secretary-general, UNDP regional director for Africa, and Gina Lucarelli, team leader of the UNDP Accelerator Laboratories, were also present.
The partnership between the two stakeholders of the African innovation ecosystem will focus on harnessing the knowledge of local innovators across the continent to close the gap on the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
So far, Africa has only pursued Goal 14; life on water and goals like Goal 16; peace, justice and strong institutions, have returned. That is why the urgent support of over a billion skills is needed.
Africans are moving towards these goals. The continent has been supported by a new, sceptical community of new founders, young people and members of the illegal movement, but the government has yet to realise its full potential.
Through this partnership, the UNDP Accelerator Lab Network and AfriLabs challenge the African innovation ecosystem to address some of the biggest development challenges and advocate for a new African policy.
The size of the organisations’ partners and network across the country is a unique place to achieve this. The UNDP Accelerator Lab network consists of 91 clinics in 115 countries, 35 countries in Africa, and AfriLabs is the largest African network of 320 technology and development centres across the country, 51 African countries and overseas.
Also present were the board and management committee of AfriLabs, as well as members of the UNDP acceleration laboratories. With the young population expected to exceed 500 million in the next five years, the importance of job creation cannot be overstated, and the Innovation Hub becomes the platform for business development.
Anna Ekeledo, managing director of AfriLabs, sees this partnership as a strong one that can double the organisations’ mission and looks forward to collecting impact assessment data to adapt to Africa’s changing ecosystem.
AfriLabs and 35 UNDP Accelerator Labs in Africa will work together to create a foundation for learning about existing policies and advocacy for African leaders. This could lead to new policies that could solve current development challenges.
Gina Lucarelli, director of UNDP Accelerator Labs, said: “The following innovations play a key role in achieving our mission. We know the momentum is in our own innovation that is happening across the country, and this partnership will help us bring it to that capacity. I am particularly excited about the upcoming National Innovation Policy Dialogue. We are working together to develop new policies that can unleash all its strengths and make it work.”
The signed agreement marks the Knowledge Partnership for Africa’s Innovation and Development Ecosystem.
Next, participants will hold a conference titled “African Innovation Policy Dialogue” in 2021 and 2022, starting in Nigeria and Kenya in November 2021, discussing how new developments in the region can facilitate sustainable development. The improvement goals were particularly clear during the COVID-19 period.