The #i4Policy platform set out to bridge innovation and policy making communities in an effort to accelerate digital and social transformation across Africa. #i4Policy is initiated in a collaboration between innovation hubs from all over Africa, and launched on May 10 in continuation of the Transform Africa Summit in Kigali.
Innovation community leaders from Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Togo and Zimbabwe, representing community catalysts from 25 countries, met in Kigali during Transform Africa. #i4policy was mentioned during almost every session, as members of our community spoke on panels and it was the talk of Transform.
Social innovation hubs contribute to Africa’s digital and social transformation and drive visions for the digital and social development of the continent by engaging and connecting youth, tech entrepreneurs and innovators. Many African governments are encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation and are looking for tangible solutions to fully capture the potential for innovating around complex challenges that exist in Africa’s communities. #i4Policy aims at creating a bridge between the innovation and policymaking communities to work together to drive positive change across the continent.
“We can’t entrepreneur around bad leadership, and we can’t entrepreneur around bad policy. You also can’t make real change through policy if you don’t include the people the change is concerning. We are the grassroots, we make things happen, and thus our voices need to be heard in policy making”, said Nanjira Sambuli from World Wide Web Foundation in Nairobi and one of the main drivers behind #i4Policy as she presented the policy communiqué the innovators developed at the launch.
The #i4Policy communiqué sets out policy recommendations and examples from innovation communities across Africa with the aim of sharing them with policy makers. It emphasizes eight main areas to push for policy inclusion: education and R&D, digital infrastructure, public multidisciplinary spaces, business registration, finance for innovation and entrepreneurship, local and regional markets, taxation systems and regional mobility.
Among the speakers at #i4Policy’s launch event was Lawrence Lessig, world-renowned net neutrality advocate and founder of the Creative Commons.
“Change always starts by convincing people that they need to come together. We need to find out how to use tech and the internet to bring communities together. If not, the capacity of democracy is destroyed. This policy fight is critical, especially for Africa that has just started to make the innovations you want to see on your continent”, Lessig said to the crowd of innovators and tech enthusiasts from inside and outside of Rwanda.
#i4Policy is already engaged with the Rwandan Ministry of Youth and ICT to consult on a new procurement law that Parliament is reviewing. “This is a great example of how policy makers can involve the innovation community from the beginning to make sure that the law fits the need of the people and communities it affects. It shows that innovation communities can be an ally for policy makers in driving the digital transformation agenda.”, said Jon Stever, founder of The Office, co-founder of Impact Hub Kigali and one of the driving forces behind #i4Policy.