African Innovation Ecosystem Roundtables
Cameroon has one of the more advanced ecosystems in the region. There have been some big engagements with public sponsors and donations in excess of 80,000 USD. They also run around 75 to 80 women focused programs in the country. There is currently no innovation policy in place in Cameroon. Gabon’s ecosystem is still in a very early stage having only really taken off around 4-months1 ago with a limited number of female participants (as low as 5% of participants are women). There is currently no innovation policy in place in Gabon.
Chad has a slightly bigger ecosystemthanGabon and a community of close to 2,000 participants. Again there is currently no innovation policy in place.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has a number of key actors in their ecosystem which includes 10 Hubs (with 6 located in Kinshasa reaching close to 2,000 people) and some in the south of the country (with close to 300 innovators per year). The DRC ecosystem attracts more than USD 1million per year. DRC has recently sent through their innovation proposal to parliament and received big support form a political party. Even though there is still a lack of understanding of the tech industry, they have been making progress. The current need is for a policy framework to support the innovators and protect them from larger players in the market.
There is a big trust gap when it comes to governments involvement across the region and it is found to be very time consuming to the point of being unsustainable to involve them.
DRC has delivered some key products in the EduTech space with a current product (SchoolLab) reaching more than 15,000 kids with learning content. This has been backed by the presidency in DRC. The main challenge around scaling the product further is the large dependence on the telecommunication infrastructure. None of the other countries mentioned any really key products in their ecosystem however it was mentioned that across the region, the key challenges that innovators are looking at is the digital transformation of public services as there is currently little to no access to digital services in this space. As far as building resilient tools and the adoption of customer centric design is concerned it became evident that Cameroon and the DRC have made some progress indicating that the specific success depends on the maturity of the ecosystem. It was indicated that there are currently gaps in communication between incubators and global ecosystems that reduced the impact of some of the efforts both ways. The design thinking methodology has been adopted in parts of the region but they are yet to find evidence of success and sustainability once adopted.
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