“Africa currently has more firefighting than innovation”

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The African tech scene currently involves more “firefighting” than innovation, with the continent yet to produce a successful solution that addresses global issues.

This is the view of Vodafone Ghana chief executive officer (CEO) Haris Broumidis, speaking during a panel discussion at the Africa Technology Summit (ATS), hosted last week by the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST).

Broumidis said Africa had not yet produced a really successful solution addressing global issues, though that was not to say there had not been commendale efforts.

“There is no big scale innovation currently that addresses the rest of the world or has been exported abroad,” he said.

“I believe the reason is because there is not enough effort, or investment, or policy framework to drive the innovation and efforts on that front.”

Broumidis said there needed to be more motivation and a better enabling environment for companies to thrive and drive technology forward, adding there is currently “more firefighting than innovation”.  

Building a better ecosystem, he said, is not a “nice to have” but a “need to have”, and to do that different stakeholders needed to work together.

“And we need to build a system that will outlive us not to gain majority stake per se,” he said.

Taking part in the same panel, Ghana country director at IBM Angela Kyerematen-Jimoh disagreed with Broumidis, saying M-Pesa was an example of a local solution going global or serving as a good test case for other countries.

She agreed, however, that there was need for more collaboration in order to encourage innovations that could go global.

“I look at the areas of need and see how best I can contribute to the solutions in that area. More importantly we need to collaborate and work together instead of competing against each other,” she said.

“How about IBM and Google working together to our individual strengths in solving the issues on the ground?”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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