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Event Overview
Innovation and digital technologies have great potential to create jobs, boost productivity growth, reduce poverty, foster inclusion, and reduce inequality. They are vital for increasing the production of farms, firms, manufacturers, and service providers, and for accumulating knowledge capital. But they require collaboration by many actors working in digital and innovation ecosystems to ensure that they deliver benefits for society. This is not happening—yet.

Africa’s digital and innovation activities today are fragmented, with disconnected players, platforms, and services. The dominant practice—with startups, telephone companies, and governments in the digital space working separately in silos—needs to be replaced by greater integration of services and online platforms.

ACET’s African Transformation Report 2021: Integrating to Transform (ATR3) emphasizes that a move to integrated digital ecosystems will greatly enhance the prospects for innovation and economic transformation. The goal must be to transition from a fragmented landscape of closed proprietary systems—which lack interconnections between services and countries—to open integrated platforms and ecosystems, all interlinked.

Given the speed of technological advance, governments cannot burden digital innovation and entrepreneurship with unnecessary costs and regulations. Instead, working with private firms, academics, think tanks, and other stakeholders, they can support digital innovators and entrepreneurs by formulating national strategies, building digital infrastructure and online platforms, coordinating the policies and programs of line ministries, and ensuring that the workforce has the right set of skills for the continent’s digital economies. Both the African Union Digital Transformation Strategy (DTS) and implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) also support these goals.

ACET’s African Transformation Report 2021: Integrating to Transform identifies three priorities for action, to include formulating strategies and establishing policy frameworks, integrating innovation ecosystems, and boosting investments in digital infrastructure and skill development.

Event Objective

Innovation Policy: Securing Africa’s Future will bring together key stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, policy makers and international actors for a “deep dive” discussion on how African governments can accelerate policymaking related to innovation, technology and digital to support the continent’s economic transformation, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will also seek inputs to, and validation for, ACET’s new Innovation and Digital Program.

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