African governments lack innovation policies – Ndemo

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African governments are failing entrepreneurs by not creating a comprehensive framework supportive of innovation and entrepreneurship, according to Bitange Ndemo, Kenya’s former permanent secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communications.

In an exclusive guest post written for Disrupt Africa – to be published on Friday – Ndemo said the failure of many African countries to implement innovation policies means that a comprehensive ecosystem supportive of entrepreneurship cannot develop.

“Many African governments do not have a comprehensive innovation policy.  Policies create an institutional framework for research funding, research dissemination and general awareness of innovations within any country,” Ndemo said.

“This is perhaps why research funding in Africa remains depressing, a fact that undermines sustainable development of the continent.”

According to Ndemo, one key element in supporting entrepreneurship is promoting relevant skills through education – another area in which he feels policies are often lacking.

“Education policies that can support innovation too lack in many African countries.  Our education systems in Africa have over emphasized on liberal arts subjects at the expense of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that is key to enhancing productivity in all sectors,” Ndemo said.

This failure to actively promote technical education and focus on transferring relevant skills to students places too heavy an onus on budding entrepreneurs to tackle a range of challenges they may be unprepared for, and as such entrepreneurship in Africa is hindered, Ndemo believes.

“Developing an app for example in the agricultural sector dictates that the developer has extensive knowledge not just in the sector but how to convert complex issues into computer language.”

The full text of a guest article written by Bitange Ndemo for Disrupt Africa will be published on Friday.

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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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