Business News of Thursday, 20 July 2017
For innovators and creators to attract capital from global funds, they must endeavour to register their innovations with the necessary authorities, locally and internationally, Yoofi Grant, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), has said.
“There is the issue of innovators not registering their innovations. We still have a lot of work to do in absorbing the innovations on the continent into the global world and until we can actually get them to register, they will miss out on a big pool of resources the world offers.
The difficulty we have is that a lot of the innovation happening on the African continent is informal and not captured in the formal economies so they do not appear in front of investors unless investors go look for them,” he said.
Mr. Grant made the remarks at the opening of 2017 edition of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) competition, organised by the Africa Innovation Foundation (AIF) in Accra which saw 10 innovators nominated, with no Ghanaian representation, for the prize of US$100,000 for the best innovator.
Africa’s budding innovators have struggled to attract funding whereas their colleagues in Europe, North America and Asia seemingly access funding from several sources to support their works with ease.
Analysts have asserted that the continent’s innovators challenges in accessing funds from international institutions are due to a general lack of structures to monitor such funds, bureaucracies on the part of government officials and a general lack of understanding of the continent by investors.
According to the 2017 edition of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Global Innovations Index, an index that provides detailed metrics about the innovation performance of 127 countries and economies around the world, the three best run African countries are South Africa, which came in at 57th; Mauritius at 64th; and Kenya at 80th; without any representation from Ghana.
The index noted that South Africa, as the most innovative African country has registered only 314 international patents while Kenya has registered 11. But within the same period, China has registered a whooping 43,168 with the United States of America (USA) registering 56,595 and Germany registering 18,315.
“Even as you are creating stuff you must register them. That is why the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) is ensuring that a lot of these have the necessary intellectual property attached to them because that is how we can put them on the global stage,” Mr. Grant added.
To him, innovation will be a key driver in Ghana’s ambition to move the economy from one of just the exports of raw materials and resources to one of value added and production.
“Innovation will also drive wealth creation on the continent because many of the solutions that are being proposed are going to bring significant changes in people’s lives,” he noted.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), in his remarks, noted that government plans to invest 1percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in science, technology and innovation.
“Our President has promised to put science and technology at the centre of his government and will, therefore, devote 1percent of the GDP into research and development,” Prof. Frimpong-Boateng noted.
He said the ministry would establish a Presidential Advisory Council on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), draft a bill on STI Policy as well as set up STI Fund to support research and development.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said the Ministry had established an incubation centre at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to provide facilities that the technology innovators needed in order to scale-up and make practical their innovations.
Jean-Claude Bastos De Morais, the Founder of the AIF, commended the Government for planning to invest one per cent of the GDP into science and innovation and expressed belief that it would positively change the African innovation market place for good.
The Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), which is the sixth edition, is on the theme: “African Innovation: Investing in Prosperity.” It aims at recognising Africans with innovative ideas that would enhance the lives of the people.
There are 10 finalists out of more than 2,000 applicants who entered this year’s competition. They comprised Peris Bosire, Kenya; Nokwethu Khojane, South Africa; Omolabake Adenle, Nigeria; Nzola Swasisa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Badr Idriss, Morocco; Aly El-Shafei, Egypt; Dr Dougbeh-Chris Nyan, Liberia; Olanisun Olufemi Adewole, Nigeria; Gift Gana, Zimbabwe; and Philippa Ngaju Makobore from Uganda.
The overall winner would receive US$100,000, the first runner-up would take home US$25,000 and a special prize of US$25,000 would be given to the nominee with project on social impact while each nominee would take home US$5,000.