The AIS is an Africa-wide and home grown initiative aimed at harnessing the innovation potential of the continent. It aims to mobilize the people and, especially those with the ‘power to act’, including investors, the people with the ideas, the policy makers, the researchers and academics, the business community, the youth, as well as innovators and thinkers into a coalition for collective action to promote and build an enabling environment for innovation in Africa. The goal is to engage as many people as possible in order to build a broad constituency in support of innovation in Africa. The basic fact is that Africa cannot outsource its development.
Addressing the fundamental challenges facing the continent will not happen through a laissez-faire agenda and, more importantly, Africa’s structural transformation and sustainable development will only happen if African countries are able to build innovation-driven economies and societies. This is a pre-requisite in the emerging world, with accelerating pace of change and hypercompetitive economy, in which the only competitive advantage, according to Aires de Geus, is the ability to learn faster than one’s competitors.
African countries must transform and diversify their economies through value addition to primary commodities, efficient resource consumption, the use of low-carbon energy forms and services, and the development of services sector. Innovation is the single most important prerequisite for this to happen. Innovation must become a way of life on the continent. Through innovation, Africans can develop the solutions to address the developmental challenges such as poverty, health, energy, water, productivity, competitiveness, economic diversification, food security, climate change and governance facing the continent. The AIS aims to serve as a key platform to promote innovation in Africa.
The 2018 Summit will be a multifaceted event that will bring together stakeholders from various sectors, including decision makers to seek innovative and disruptive solutions for the challenges facing African countries. The focus of AIS 2018 will include energy access, water, health, food security and climate change. AIS II will be a three-day event and the program will include five plenary sessions to introduce major thematic issues followed by a series of facilitated workshops, which will take place in focused workgroups to deepen the dialogue and to seek solutions to address the key challenges facing African countries. Each workshop will focus on a specific theme with three to four panelists and will be led by a facilitator. The aims of the discussions are to seek solutions, develop an agenda and mobilize the people and stakeholders for collective action going forward. The AIS 2018 will include activities before, during and after the Summit.