The UNDP and Afrilabs recently partnered to focus on harnessing the knowledge of local innovators across the continent as they aim to close the gap towards achieving the SDGs.
It is understood that Africa is only on track with regard to achieving the SDG 14 (life below water), with a regression in achieving the SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).
The continent, according to development experts, has an incredibly innovative community of grassroots innovators, youth and members of the informal sector. However, governments do not yet fully utilise this incredible potential.
‘With our youth population projected to be over 500 million over the next five 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’, AfriLabs Executive Director, Anna Ekeledo, said in Abuja as the development partners formally announced their partnership.
‘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 revolutionise the innovation ecosystem in Africa’.
AfriLabs is the largest pan-African network, comprising 320 technology and innovation hubs across 51 African countries and the diaspora, while the UNDP Accelerator Lab Network comprises 91 labs covering 115 countries among which 35 are located in Africa.
According to the Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa, the two development partners will leverage existing policies and develop a roadmap to address the complexity of emerging challenges.
‘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’, Eziakonwa said.
Also, the UNDP Accelerator Labs Team Leader, Gina Lucarelli, said bottom-up approach in innovation was critical to the realisation of SDGs.
‘Bottom-up innovation plays a critical role if we want to accelerate progress towards the goals’, Lucarelli said virtually.
‘We know there is power in the homegrown innovation happening across the continent and this partnership will help us tap into this potential’.
Photo source: UNDP