Social innovation hubs are critical spaces for engaging and connecting communities–youth, tech entrepreneurs and innovators–and bring forth innovations in the form of new companies, products and services that could drive visions for the digital development of the continent further.
Many improvements need to be made before the continent can fully capture the potential for innovation that exists in our communities. And whilst we acknowledge that some governments are working hard to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and job-seeking youth, we believe there needs to be inclusive dialogue amongst policy makers, innovators and local communities a dialogue between policy makers and local communities, users and innovators in order to create policy frameworks that foster local, bottom-up innovation.
In order to best contribute to Africa’s digital and social transformation, we have gathered recommendations and examples from innovation communities across Africa with the aim of sharing them with policy makers. Our communique offers suggestions based on the experience of entrepreneurs and innovators from across the continent. We believe these recommendations will develop strong social innovation hubs across the continent, accelerate digital transformation and, ultimately, contribute to a more equitable and sustainable development of our economies and societies.
Project History / Timeline
In October 2016 a group of African innovation hubs, bloggers, entrepreneurs and community catalysts, met in Kigali to discuss their public policy needs. Since then we have collaboratively drafted a policy vision with hubs across the continent.
In May 2017 we will present our collective vision for public policy to Governments across the region at the Transform Africa Summit in Kigali, a grouping of policymakers, corporates and innovators.
i4Policy is managed by The Office and GIG. Geraldine and Jon manage the project while Georgia and Nanjira are the heads of research.
Geraldine de Bastion is an expert on information and communication technology and new media for development. She works with activists and bloggers around the world and is founder of the consultancy Konnektiv GbR, a free curator and moderator for re:publica, has an honorary position as head of board at the German NGO Digitale Gesellschaft e.V. and is an active member of iceBauhaus e.V..
Jon Stever is the Founder and Managing Director of The Office and a co-Founder and Chairman of Impact Hub Kigali. He is a macroeconomist and an activist social entrepreneur.
Georgia Nicolau an activist and a researcher in the fields of culture, arts, politics and citizen innovation. Since 2013, she is part of the Global Innovation Gathering network, bringing together innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world, with a focus on the global South.
Nanjira Sambuli currently leads the Web Foundation’s advocacy efforts to promote digital equality in access to and use of the Web. The ICT powerhouse previously worked as Research Lead at the iHub in Nairobi and is also a columnist for the Daily Nation newspaper in Kenya, a member of DFID’s Digital Advisory Panel and served as a deputy on the United Nations High Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment.
The Office is a hub of hubs in Kigali, Rwanda. Founded in 2012, The Office is both a social real estate manager for the innovation ecosystem–creating a building that can house multiple hubs, community spaces, and creative and entrepreneurial organizations–and works to broker collaboration between hubs and innovation communities. The community building currently hosts a rooftop community venue and cafe/bar; Impact Hub Kigali’s coworking space; One Acre Fund’s government relations office; Niyel, a social campaign agency from Senegal; Illume, a Rwanda-based creative agency; and, Educat and Organge Kat, business service providers and publishers of the Accelerator Magazine.
The Global Innovation Gathering (GIG) is a vibrant community of innovation hub founders, community managers, makers and hackers from across the world, who exchange ideas and collaborate online as well as offline at various conferences worldwide. GIG has been growing steadily since 2013 and now comprises of more than 100 drivers of global innovation from over 30 countries. With its diverse members and collaborative projects and due to its truly equitable setup, GIG is pursuing a new vision for development and cooperation based on equality, openness and sharing.
This project is funded by OSIWA