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Innovation Centers: Africa Institute

building bridges to a secure, peaceful and prosperous future,
within and among peoples, cultures, faiths and nations of Africa and the world

Introduction:

In a 2004 United Nations report, “ A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility”, a High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change identified six clusters of threats that our common world should be concerned with in the 21st Century: war between states; violence within states, including civil wars, large scale human rights abuses and genocide; poverty, infectious disease and environmental degradation; nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons; and, terrorism.

Earlier, in 2000,  during the Millennium general Assembly, United Nations set forth eight goals, to be achieved by 2015, to respond to some of the above challenges: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and, develop a global partnership for development.

The African Union (AU), through its New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), has a vision and strategic compact that hinges on the following: to eradicate poverty; to place African countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development; to halt the marginalization of Africa in the globalization process and enhance it full and beneficial integration into the global economy; and, to accelerate the empowerment of women.

Africa is richly diverse continent with numerous challenges and tremendous opportunity.  In the last decade or so,  Africa made progress on the social, economic and political fronts. Africa is a microcosm of global threats, challenges and change. Poverty,  hunger and disease  remain pervasive, and parts of the continent continue to suffer from the dangerous blend of insecurity, instability, conflict and genocide. In Africa and the Millennium Development Goals 2007 Update, the United Nations warns:

“At the midway point between their adoption in 2000 and the 2015 target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, sub-Saharan Africa is not on track to achieve any of the Goals. Although there have been major gains in several areas and the Goals remain achievable in most African nations, even the best governed countries on the continent have not been able to make sufficient progress in reducing extreme poverty in its many forms.”

The Africa Institute, founded by Partners International Foundation, is being created as a response and complementary effort to help catalyse and speed up Africa’s progress to peace and  prosperity. Through engagement with government, business and civil society, the institute is dedicated and committed to Africa’s broad-based transformation. Through development, deployment and retention of  Africa’s talent ( in and outside Africa) and other resources, the Africa Institute will contribute to create Africa’s growth with equity, themselves  indispensable conditions for sustainable prosperity.

Currently there are several multi-lateral and bi-lateral initiatives, and various forms of help from philanthropy and business to aid Africa. The international community has been engaged with Africa for over a century now, with both positive and negative consequences. Designing and executing high impact interventions, especially at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid, with Africans owning and leading the effort, remain big but surmountable challenges.

Knowledge, skills, science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship are both critical and urgent to make local and international efforts effective, efficient, and sustainable. Leadership and managerial skills are especially vital in connecting the dots in the development enterprise. Such skills are more urgent in a rapidly changing globalised world that is rife with threats and uncertainty. African leaders are required to spot and influence the mega-and micro-trends locally and globally. They are required to provide relentless stewardship in building viable, adaptable, sustainable, and resilient systems and communities. It is Africa Institute’s mission to make its contribution in these areas.

The Capital Analysis and Performance Strategy (CAPS): A Knowing-Doing Framework

The Capital Analysis and Performance Strategy (CAPS), is based on the assumption that were  a nation to be compared to a wheel, its potential to move forward, stagnate, or even roll back depends on a complex and dynamic interaction of strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities across government, business and civil society among seven capitial forms.

Four Priority Constituencies:

The institute’s initial focus is to foster the development of market and non-market mechanisms and institutions to enhance synergy among and within the health, education, agriculture and environmental protection sectors. The institute will endeavor to work with the relevant stakeholders, national and international, to map and respond to the special needs of the following, especially where they intersect:

· Citizens’ groups and networks at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid, especially faith-based organizations. Emphasis on women and youth.

· Universities and other institutions of higher learning: nurturing the knowing-doing framework

· Security Sector: developing and deploying the “soft power”, civil-military relations, regional security frameworks, R&D to promote science and technology, international peacekeeping…

· Small and Medium Enterprises: in the formal and informal sectors

Three Priority Regions:

· West Africa

· Horn of Africa

· Great Lakes Region of east and central Africa

What we do:

The CAPS framework is the template around which the institutes work is carved, with an added international dimension that both constrains and creates opportunities for Africa’s development.

Research: Research will be conducted by resident as well as visiting scholars.  Through fellowship and grants programs the institute will conduct research and promote collaboration between researchers and research institutions in national, regional and international settings. The Institute will also establish a grants program to support research by local and foreign based experts working on issues of interest to the institute.

Advisors  and Facilitators: The institute will provide advisory services to governments, business, civil society, African Union and sub-regional groupings, multilateral and bilateral agencies, and foundations

Public Private Partnerships: The institute will help build and maintain viable and productive public private partnerships with global reach to support African development.

Training: The Institute will undertake training activities The training activities would include conferences, seminars

Technical Assistance: Institute personnel would provide technical personnel to states in need of expertise in their fields of specialization. Engaging and developing Africans themselves to provide TA will be the institutes priority.

Publications: The institute would disseminate the output of its research and other work through print and electronic means.

Financing: Investing in people, transforming smart ideas into affordable, accessible and sustainable products and services.

Healthy Africa Scenarios Exercises (HASE) 2008

HASE was a global and multi-national exercise using regional scenarios to simulate, predict, prevent and respond to complex emergencies. Such emergencies, whether pandemics or natural disasters,  always have a health dimension.

HASE placed strong emphasis on host nation, civil, military, international organization, non-government organization, and other private sector planning, coordination and execution. The purpose of HASE  was to assist the international community in developing improved methods to conduct rapid and adaptive interagency, multinational, and private sector planning, coordination, and execution of partnered interventions in complex emergencies.  Our approach sought to learn as we went along, creating open platforms to share insights broadly and deeply.

Communities of Innovation (CI): Promoting Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Resource-limited Settings

In the area of education and training, the Africa Institute will seek to promote partnerships that will promote and enhance the use of information and communication technologies in expanding access to education and training. In this regard, Africa Institute will partner with African and other institutions already providing long distance learning to scale up the use of ICT to promote knowledge and skills sharing.

The institute will, through the Communities of Innovation, develop appropriate technologies, innovative businesses, and sustainable business models that will create jobs and reduce poverty on the continent.  It will incubate innovative private sector capabilities owned by Africans and benefiting Africans to improve their standard of living. 

The technological resources the Africa Institute and its local and international partners will bring will be open to all grade levels schools as well as select university programs to establish such a capability.  It will help consolidate efforts already through NEPAD ( New Partnership for African Development) and sub-regional organizations like SADC (Southern Africa Development Community), COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa), and ECOWAS ( Economic Community for West African States).

A Pipeline of Ideas, Projects, Programs and Initiatives:

Af-MAST: African math, science, and technology (Af-MAST) for primary and secondary schools. Starting early with parents and teachers to develop entrepreneurs and innovators of the future.

ATM: African Tinkerers and Mavericks (ATM) networks. In urban slums and rural settings, identifying young Africans with innovative and entrepreneurial potential; mentoring, coaching, and providing them with tools to translate their ideas into marketable products and services.

LISTA: Leading Innovation, Science and Technology in Africa (LISTA). A interdisciplinary cross-campus, and cross-sector course to develop the next generation of African leaders and managers in innovation. This will have a continuing education/executive education component, taught with partners on six continents to expose participants to the global innovation landscape.

Africa Innovation Summit (AIS): Annual State of Innovation in Africa event. For networking and le

The Africa Library (TAL): Africa’s largest knowledge depository. TAL is a library to other African libraries. This is a long term endeavor, which, when complete,  will be both a testament and celebration of Africa’s contribution to human civilization.

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