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Commonwealth innovation ecosystem for Africa launched in Seychelles | 01 July 2019

Commonwealth innovation ecosystem for Africa launched in Seychelles

Delegates in a souvenir photograph with guests

An innovation workshop in the Seychelles is spurring the transformation of the Commonwealth into a more connected network of countries ready to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

The Seychelles government and the National Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation (Nisti) joined forces with the Commonwealth secretariat to host the first ever ‘Commonwealth Africa Innovation Ecosystem Workshop’ in Beau Vallon, Seychelles, last week. 

Government officials, entrepreneurs, young innovators from across Africa as well as international and regional organisations such as UNCTAD, UNOPS, Africa’s Next Einstein Forum and others gathered in Seychelles to share innovation best practices and insights into peer-to-peer learning and capacity building, through a combination of presentations, case study analysis, data review, simulations, networking as well as debate. 

The workshop opened with Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland praising Seychelles as an “innovation trailblazer”.

She said: “Your leadership is showing the rest of the world how innovation can help address the challenge of climate change and threats to the blue economy.

“We believe in the critical importance of Commonwealth countries adopting a whole of government approach to innovation, which is key to our future development, prosperity and security.”

Launching the workshop, Vice-President Vincent Meriton said: “Our region, compared to others, stands to reap the greatest benefits of the digital age.  And the only barriers that can prevent us from so doing are our lack of imagination, our inertia and timidity. The Fourth Industrial Revolution beckons, and Africa cannot stand at the periphery and remain a bystander and an onlooker.”

Xavier Estico, chief executive of Nisti, said: “This workshop is taking place at a very important time for Seychelles and Nisti. We have proved that Seychelles is ready to become an innovation hub and a digital innovation centre for Africa and the entire region. Thanks to this workshop that we organised with the support of the Commonwealth secretariat, we learnt about the many exciting developments in the field of innovation that will help us to develop a smart innovation policy and plan of action for Seychelles. The workshop was also very helpful in connecting Seychelles with our neighbouring countries, the youth of Africa and the partners who will be very important in helping scale up Seychelles’ innovation agenda.”

Speaking about the importance of the workshop, Abhik Sen, head of Innovation and Partnerships at the Commonwealth secretariat, said: “Africa is home to 20 Commonwealth countries. With its young population bursting with ideas and ambition, Africa is ready to be the next innovation powerhouse of the world. Whether it is its innovative policies to protect the blue economy or its pioneering of the ‘blue bond’, Seychelles has shown that it is already an innovation champion. That is why the Commonwealth was delighted to partner with Nisti to convene the first ever Commonwealth Africa Innovation Ecosystem Workshop here. We are very grateful to the government of Seychelles, Nisti and the Seychellois people for their warm and generous support.”

As part of the workshop, the participants completed an ‘innovation challenge’ assigned to them by the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust. In the presence of the vice-president at the workshop, the Commonwealth also signed memoranda of understanding with the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences Next Einstein Forum, which will help promote STEM education and innovation in Commonwealth Africa, and with the Global Innovation Technology Alliance, India’s innovation platform, to strengthen South-South cooperation and public private partnerships between Seychelles and other Commonwealth countries by connecting them through a ‘technology and funding bridge’.

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