The government has committed to accelerating the commercialisation of research and innovation in the country, President William Ruto has said.
Speaking at the official opening of the Kenya Innovation Week in Nairobi, yesterday, Dr Ruto said the provision of incentives and the scaling up of funding in innovation will expand opportunities for the youth, and women.
He noted that the goal is to promote the achievement of innovation through value creation, and competitive advantage. “I must admit, the youth continue to sustain innovation in our economy with youth-driven start-ups securing $700 million (Sh107.8 billion) last year, among the highest globally making Kenya a top African investment hub,” Ruto said.
“The youth are also the overwhelming majority of millions of unemployed Kenyans who are relying on our plans to unlock employment opportunities.”
His sentiments were echoed by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Patricia Scotland, who noted that the current global challenges will require innovative solutions in different sectors.
“We are looking for solutions. You know that the world is facing quite a tangled knot of crisis, we’ve been through climate change and we’re still affected by… look at the trauma in Kenya today, so many lives have been lost, I think more than 70 people and homes have been damaged as a result of flooding,” she said.
“This we are seeing all over our Commonwealth, which has 56 countries. It is 2.5 billion people, 60 per cent of whom are under the age of 30, so we need solutions for the climate.”
Ms Scotland said the Commonwealth Secretariat is working on setting up an innovation ecosystem that will help bridge the gap between the developed north and the developing south and tap into the Commonwealth market.
“When everybody else’s trade was going south and reducing as intra-Commonwealth trade remained stable, and we discovered it was because of digital trade. We had more than $141 billion (Sh21.72 trillion) worth of digital trade and who is doing that digital trade, you people,” she noted.
“We know that for all our countries, unemployment is a scourge for our young people, but we can’t look at all jobs. We have to look at the new jobs, think about all the jobs that never existed ten years ago, five years ago….all of that change now means we have to look forward and say what are the jobs of the 21st century.”
Young innovators have been urged to take advantage of innovation incubators to fine-tune their ideas.
“The enterprises and the business are saying to us, ‘We have the money but we don’t have the bankable projects, so they’re are saying find the bankable projects that we can fund,” she said.