‘Seychelles represents innovation in Africa,’ says Commonwealth SG | 25 June 2019
The secretary general of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, has congratulated and applauded Seychelles for being a “trailblazer in the area of innovation”.
Ms Scotland made this remark yesterday at the first-ever Commonwealth Africa Innovation Ecosystem Workshop, being held at the Savoy Resort & Spa.
The three-day workshop, jointly organised by the National Institute for Science, Technology and Innovation (Nisti) and the Commonwealth, aims to group together member states of the Commonwealth for discussions on incubating and fostering innovation to meet the needs of the 2.5 billion people who form part of the Commonwealth and to meet the multiplicity of challenges of contemporary society.
Furthermore, the workshop aims to engage stakeholders on the utility of adopting and implementing principles of innovation in policy-making, public administration and public service and to establish a monitoring framework and mechanism tailored to the needs and context of member states in the region.
In her keynote address yesterday, Ms Scotland commended the government of Seychelles for being a leader in technology and innovation and for its stalwart and active championship of the Commonwealth Blue Charter which strives for the sustainable approach to ocean economic development and protection.
“Seychelles represents innovation in Africa. We believe in the transformational power of innovation at all levels, be it global, regional, national or local level to not only help us to meet the multiplicity of challenges we face, but also to assist us to realise the potential that is evident among us. Embracing, incubating and scaling innovation as well as digital transformation will be critical in helping Commonwealth countries to co-create the collusions which will be necessary to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs),” added Ms Scotland.
“We are facing global challenges which are complex, unique, but intimate and if we are to devise solutions necessary to address the impending threats, we need us all to cooperate and co-create solutions needed, we have to innovate if that fourth industrial revolution is to be a reality,” Ms Scotland highlighted.
Nisti’s chief executive Xavier Estico also addressed all present stating that it is widely accepting that incubation of innovation through digital transformation is critical in helping to achieve the SDGs.
“We are all embracing innovation on the continent. The time to achieving the SDGs is less than 11 years from now. While we work towards the SDGs with optimism, we should also be realistic about the slow pace at which we are investing in science, technology and innovation (STI). Our investments in STI should not be only through the prism of the SDGs but to the preparedness and relevance to the fourth industrial revolution if we choose not to be left behind,” Mr Estico noted.
Speaking to the media, Mr Estico noted that Seychelles has been selected by the Commonwealth for the efforts that are being made towards innovation in different sectors including blue economy, agriculture and eco-tourism. Moreover, innovation can be used to bring about socio-economic transformations, prosperity of the member states and populations.
Vice-President Vincent Meriton, who was also present for the opening ceremony, also addressed all present and emphasised the role of STI in the social and economic development of Africa.
“When we harness STI to serve the needs of our people, they are powerful tools for the transformation of lives for our continent. As we meet here today, we share a common understanding that innovative approaches are imperative if we are to meet the needs of our population. If we are to rise to the challenges of national development in a rapidly evolving technological landscape and if we are to attain the SDGs. Our nations must seize the opportunities that advances in technology can offer,” Vice-President Meriton asserted.
During yesterday’s opening session, the Innovation for Sustainable Development award was also presented to John Oroko, a social entrepreneur and co-founder and chief executive of Selina Wamucci, a Pan-African social enterprise that integrates small-holder farmers and fishing communities into local and global supply chains. Through a mobile phone based digital platform, small farmers can overcome market access challenges by digitising the supply chain and reducing inefficiencies leading to cost-savings and improved profitability for the farmers and their families.
The award presentation was followed by the signing of two memoranda of understanding (MoU), both of which are focused on the catalysing and accelerating innovation in Africa and across the Commonwealth. The first MoU was signed by Ms Scotland on behalf of the Commonwealth and the Global Innovation & Technology Alliance. The second MoU was signed by assistant secretary general of the Commonwealth Nabeel Goheer and the vice-president of Science, Innovation and Partnerships of Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Youssef Travaly.
The three-day workshop will consist of various sessions run by experts from the Commonwealth, the Research and Development Agency of Rwanda and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
Furthermore, delegates will be invited to voice their ideas in different panel discussions on building a better information network that can be used by all Commonwealth member states to foster innovation within their own states and bring about socio-economic transformations in their communities.