“Innovation” the Most misused, overused and abused Word in Kenya

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Innovation innovation..what a word.. I have used it before but now I just want to run a way from it. This week it was all about innovation.. On NTV African Agenda hosted  by Wallace Kantai..the topic was innovation. There were  high level top CEOs from top companies and Multinationals in Kenya. But I felt that NTV and Wallace do not understand who the potential  innovators are . If you talking about Kenyan innovation and then bringing in the big Companies and Multinationals as the point of reference then I think you are missing the point.

I have realized that NTV and Wallace in particular think that you must have made a million dollars before taking your opinion seriously on his show. I have message for NTV, the real innovators are the men on the street, the hustlers, and the guys sweating it at iHub to make something work. Innovation is never scheduled and planned for as most people tend to think. In most cases innovation is accidental. The day the media houses will start looking at the Jua Kali workers as the real innovators in Kenya, it is the day they will start to promote the right people and in extension the local home bread industry..  The guys sweating it out at the Gikomba market, making things like mekos, boxes, tables, vikapus. Those are the people who at least trying to produce things which can be labelled as made in Kenya from the scrap.

I can remember Wallace dismissing all the women in tech whom I listed here as having done nothing to be called women in Tech and be invited on his show!

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Too much of Wallace, back to issue at hand, the Innovation and the week. Up in Addis Ababa, the World big fish were doing their annual useless World Economic Forum.  And the innovation came up again. Apparently something called [email protected] was announced . It is a Partnership to Promote Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Africa.  It was launched by High-level representatives from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, African Development Bank, Microsoft, Nokia, infoDev, DEMO, and the World Economic Forum.

Sorry if you still don’t understand what the LIONS is about . It is Liberalizing Innovation Opportunity Nations ([email protected]) and it seeks to mobilize the knowledge, expertise and resources of leading public and private institutions to encourage and enhance Africa’s innovation ecosystem and to spur entrepreneurship across the continent. Great stuff but how.. It is one thing to say mobilizing but achieving the aim and measuring the achievement is another thing . I read the press release about the launch and as usual the PR guys litter it with statistics which do not help at all. Put up the stats about 6 of fastest growing economies in the World are from Africa bla bla bla and leave out the most important bit.. how the innovation is going to be encouraged!


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