We often hear about the challenges facing Africa, but seldom do we hear about the innovation and creativity emerging throughout the continent. Africa is now among the fastest-growing economic regions in the world, creating significant business opportunities in a wide range of industries. Key to the growth surge are government reforms that create greater political stability, improve the macroeconomic environment, and energise the business environment.
The question to ourselves should be: how do we seize these opportunities? How do we ensure we unlock value to the benefit of Africa and stimulate growth, employment, education and reduce poverty, address health and service delivery issues, tap into green energy and leave a legacy for our children?
Setting the scene:
It is projected that (1) consumer goods and services, followed by (2) natural resources, (3) agriculture, and (4) infrastructure could together generate as much as US$2.6 trillion in annual revenue by 2020. The biggest business opportunity of the four lies in consumer goods and services as a result of the rise of the urban African consumer. Today, 40 percent of Africans live in cities and urbanisation has not slowed down. There are 52 cities with populations greater than 1 million, which is equal to Western Europe, and is projected to add another 32 by 2030. This urbanisation is creating jobs, boosting productivity, and lifting incomes. The number of households with discretionary income is projected to grow by 50% over the next 10 years, reaching 128 million and could be worth US$1.4 trillion in annual revenue by 2020.
Urbanisation increases demand for investment in new roads, rail systems, clean water, power generation, and other infrastructure. There are also many other possibilities in Africa. With 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land and low crop yields, Africa is ripe for a “green revolution” like those that have increased agricultural production in Asia and Brazil.
If recent trends continue, Africa will play an increasingly important role in the global economy. By 2040, the continent will be home to one in five of the planet’s young people and will have the world’s largest working-age population. If Africa can give its young people sufficient education and skills, we could be a substantial source of consumption and production in years ahead.
And this is the main theme the 5th SA Innovation summit wants to explore – how do we build innovation capabilities in Africa? How do we create regional innovation systems?
As a diverse continent innovation strategies must reflect the different stages of development in each country. Unlocking the potential and value requires constant efforts at innovation, but the failure rate of innovations is high. Many innovations fail to take root at all. Others are not sustained over the long term. Why are some successful and others not? What are the strategies employed by the success stories? Are they primarily an exploitation of a comparative technological advantage, superior economic resources, or adaptability? What role do leaders really play?
How do successful organisational entrepreneurs build teams that balance technical and political competence? How do successful entrepreneurs guide their organisations through the process of innovation?
In evaluating organisational innovation strategies, there are obvious differences between public and private sector organisations. Yet while the incentives are often very different, the underlying processes of innovation are very similar in the two sectors. Successful innovation strategies in the private sector often involve effective exploitation of public organisations, while public innovation usually requires mobilisation of support from the private sector.
The Innovation Summit is calling for papers for the 5th SA Innovation Summit.
The Innovation Summit will explore the role of governments, corporations, academia and individuals as drivers of innovation and investigate principles that lead to sustainable successful innovation systems.
The 5th SA Innovation Summit will provide a unique opportunity for a select group of speakers to share their experiences and knowledge with national and international participants. Submissions from academic, research, consulting, industry, intermediary and policy organisations are encouraged and should focus on the following general themes or the Innovation Summit focus themes:
- Leading innovation – required skills and competencies;
- Africa’s competitive edge – what is Africa’s competitive edge? How do we unlock innovation in Africa?;
- Innovation 2.0: Redefining the boundaries between producers and consumers. Leveraging emerging social and technological trends and the desire and capacity of customers and citizens to create value for themselves and their peers;
- Inclusive innovation (equitable, cohesive) – innovation for the 90 percent of the population;
- Collaboration for innovation – networks, COP and KM;
- Catalysts/triggers for innovation: demography, big data (BI), technology, anthropology, design, geography, future scenarios, the green economy;
- Entrepreneurship, business models and financing innovation;
- Academia as the fuzzy front end for innovation?;
- Business creativity and idea generation - measurable impact on bottom line results;
- The impact of information and communications technologies (ICT): identifying best practices for a knowledge base economy and innovation systems;
- ‘The space between’ – linking government, academia, business and the community. What enabling platforms and frameworks will support the type of collaboration needed to support regional innovation?;
- Frameworks, methods, tools and measurement for innovation;
- The role of innovation in sustainable, environmental and socially conscious development;
- Organising for innovation: Eco systems for innovation and systems thinking in innovation.
Important submission deadlines:
- 18 April 2012: Outlines only (all submissions);
- 26 April 2012: Acceptance notification;
- 25 May 2012: Final submissions (including papers, profiles and photos) and registration;
- 20 August 2012: Presentation slides and hand-out material.
Only papers and accompanying information that have been completed in full and received on or before the above mentioned deadline date, will be accepted and considered.
For more information and how to submit, refer to http://innovationsummit.co.za/5th-sa-innovation-summit-call-for-papers.
Late submission will not be considered.
Enquiries: Mobile: 073 2578178, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more about the 5th SA Innovation Summit, refer to http://innovationsummit.co.za.
To view other opportunities, refer to www.ngopulse.org/group/home-page/other-opportunities.