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  • Timothy Laku

Here is why the Innovation Agenda in Africa has failed to impact the world in ways others have.

The top 5 most innovative countries, based on the number of patents issued per capita are United States, South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, and Denmark. Not one African country makes the list of 100.


Why are most of the major tech innovations coming from the global west? Why are we not seeing many global innovations coming from Africa? Is it because of lack of resources?

The top 5 most innovative countries, based on the number of patents issued per capita are United States, South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, and Denmark. Not one single African country made the list of 100.


North America is home to about 600 million people. United States of America accounts for almost 80% of the tech innovations that have impacted the world in the last 50 years. If population is anything to go by, Africa, home to over 1.2 billion people, should be pushing out twice as many innovations as the United States of America.


Why is it that most of the major technological innovations are from the global west? Why is that we are not seeing many global innovations coming from Africa? What exactly is the problem?


Could it be a lack of resources exacerbated by poor leadership?


The Democratic Republic of the Congo alone has an estimated $24 trillion in untapped mineral deposits. including the world's largest reserves of coltan and significant quantities of the world's cobalt.


Africa is far from poor.


In the digital age that we live in today, innovation is king. For a business to thrive, strategy creates a competitive advantage. People and a culture of innovation sustain it. Technology is how it is delivered.

Most of us went to schools that favored discipline above self-expression. As children, we weren't allowed to think outside-the-box. We were reprimanded for coloring outside the lines. The teacher's direction was final


There was little room for children to be creative at home as well. Most parents punished self-expression. It was considered "big-headed" to question what parents said. We associated curiosity with punishment.


Creativity is the freest form of self-expression and, for children, the creative process is more important than the finished product.


Today, we are looking at millions of adults who are unable to innovate because they were punished for coloring outside the lines. There is a real fear associated with inventing. A deep fear of thinking different.


How can we expect to see innovations coming out of Africa when as children, we were punished for "asking-too-many questions"? When our schools favored discipline above self-expression?


We need to offer our children a range of creative materials & experiences such as drawing, painting, photography, music, poetry, working with clay, paper, wood, water, etc.


We need to provide our children time to explore, to tinker and pursue their ideas. We need to give them frequent opportunities and lots of time to experience and explore expressive materials.


For the next generation of Africans to thrive in a world driven by innovation, we need to deliberately foster the creative process in our children. We need to encourage our children to make their own choices.

We need to see more global innovations coming out of Africa. We are a step closer to this reality, every time we allow our children to tinker, to invent, to explore, and to express themselves freely.


Be part of the conversation on Twitter @timothylaku and follow the hashtags below:


#Africa

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