The Rockefeller Foundation Africa Regional Office convenes partners to deliberate on the role of innovation in catalyzing change and driving growth in Africa.
· Harnessing innovation critical to building relevant solutions to complex development challenges in the 21st century
· Speakers and grantees discuss challenges, opportunities and innovative approaches needed for Africa’s economic transformation
NAIROBI, August 16 2012: The Rockefeller Foundation today convened policy makers, members of academia, the private sector and grantees from around the continent to discuss the pivotal role innovation will play in securing Africa’s economic transformation. The two-day convening takes place in Nairobi, where the Foundation’s Africa Regional Office is hosted.
The Rockefeller Foundation continues to support innovative solutions to complex development challenges across Africa through its diverse network of grantees. The Foundation’s initiatives on the continent are focused on building resilience to shocks which impact the lives of poor and vulnerable people, as well as expanding opportunity through more equitable growth. Through its convening power, the Foundation is committed to encouraging the creation of partnerships and networks that promote innovation and a systems-based approach to address persistent development challenges.
Commenting on the convening, Eme Essien Lore, Interim Managing Director for the Foundation’s Africa Regional Office explained:
“The Foundation continues to support a legacy of innovation on the continent; fresh and bold thinking in finding solutions to complex developmental challenges is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Visionary approaches in building resilience to climate change, transforming health systems throughout the region, and attracting responsible private investment to enable meaningful and equitable economic growth are key to driving and sustaining the transformation of our continent.”
Dr. Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, opened the convening, calling on participants to engage actively in the conversations over the 2 day session:
“The Rockefeller Foundation has been active in Africa for nearly 100 years and our commitment to the continent today is stronger and more ambitious than ever. We see innovation as the driving force shaping Africa’s future and one of the key exports Africa can share with the world. It is my hope that over the next 2 days, we will all play a significant role in contributing to this critical process by sharing learning, reflecting on emergent issues and leading change across and for the continent.”
Ms. Obiageli Ezekwesili, Senior Economic Advisor of the newly formed Africa Economic Policy Development Initiative and former Vice-President, Africa Region, World Bank gave the key note presentation titled “Africa: Towards Strong, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth”. Addressing the audience, Ms. Ezekwesili reiterated the importance of indigenous solutions:
“Africa is a continent rich in resources and ideas yet the poor have waited too long to see how this changes their daily life. We as Africans therefore need to develop solutions that address our particular challenges in order to spur faster and more sustainable economic growth. Critically, we must involve people both in generating and in benefiting from quality growth in order to deliver real impact for the people of our continent.”
Panel discussions scheduled during the convening are designed to stimulate debate around the theme “Catalyzing Change and Driving Growth through African Innovation” with perspectives from diverse fields of expertise offered, as well as a review of broad trends across the continent which offer potential to drive massive growth in the coming decades and which can best be harnessed through indigenous innovation.
The Innovation Market Place provided grantees with the opportunity to showcase their innovations to the partners in attendance. Grantees due to part in the Market Place include: Digital Divide Data (Kenya), Oxfam America (Ethiopia), Nature Conservation Research Center (Ghana), Clinton Health Access Initiative (Kenya), and B Lab (Global).
The two day convening brings together partners and guests including Ambassador Dr. Richard Sezibera, Secretary General, East African Community; Dr. Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, Director Development Research, African Development Bank; Mwangi S. Kimenyi, Senior Fellow and Director, Africa Growth Initiative, Brookings Institute; and Dr. Fareed Arthur, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission.
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About the Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission to promote the well-being of people throughout the world has remained unchanged since its founding in 1913. Today, that mission is applied to an era of rapid globalization. Our vision is that this century will be one in which globalization’s benefits are more widely shared and its challenges are more easily weathered. To realize this vision, the Foundation seeks to achieve two fundamental goals in our work. First, we seek to build resilience that enhances individual, community and institutional capacity to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of acute crises and chronic stresses. Second, we seek to promote growth with equity in which the poor and vulnerable have more access to opportunities that improve their lives. In order to achieve these goals, the Foundation constructs its work into time-bound initiatives that have defined objectives and strategies for impact. These initiatives address challenges that lie either within or at the intersections of five issue areas: basic survival safeguards, global health, environment and climate change, urbanization, and social and economic security. For more information, please visit http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org.