Written by Eric Akasa
The African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) with support from the World Bank’s infoDev Climate Technology Programme has established the East Africa Climate Innovation Network (EACIN) that will connect private, public, academic and community actors to accelerate climate technology innovation. The Network will work closely with Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (CIC) which actively supports Kenyan innovators to develop novel technologies and businesses in the rapidly expanding clean-tech sector.
To this end, the partners today kicked off a two-day conference aimed at planning for further development of the network. Participants are from technology institutions, entrepreneurs, business incubators, innovators and partners that support the development of businesses and a market for climate technologies within the East Africa region
EACIN is the first regional innovation network supported by the infoDev Climate Technology Program. Some of the activities it is currently running include Identifying and analyzing existing innovations for climate change adaptation with an aim of scaling up the technologies, and enhancing the capacity of SMEs and innovators in the region through engagement with key resource partners and the Kenya CIC.
One of the major challenges realized with innovation in the developed countries is that Transfer of technology from industrialized countries may not always work in developing countries because innovation has to be modeled to suit the identified needs of the particular countries. To this end, the network plans to actively work hand in hand with the developing countries so that they can participate proactively in the innovation value chain.
The network is also actively brokering South-South technology transfer through a virtual platform and a network of partners, including potentially linking East African SMEs to technology and business partners globally. Further, they are in the process of developing a long-term Business Plan and a model for scaling up and sustainability.
In a speech read on behalf by his Permanent Secretary Dr. Edward Sambili, the Minister of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 Wycliffe A. Oparanya lauded the initiative by showing the steps being taken by the government “in 2010, we launched the “National Climate Response Strategy and we are currently working on the “Kenya Climate Change Action Plan” which has eight subcomponents including long term low carbon strategy, an enabling policy framework, a national adaptation plan, mitigation strategies, new technology for response to climate change, measurement of progress, finance and policy coordination. I am also glad to hear that Kenya CIC is expected to support up to 70 sustainable climate technology ventures in the first 5 years and is set to generate 4,600 direct and over 24,000 jobs within 10 years.
Learning institutions were also challenged on the role they play in as far as innovations from the tertiary level are concerned.
The main concern being that there are numerous innovations which do not get the deserved recognition or support. In his response, Egerton University DVC Prof Gowald Mwangi said that they were putting into place measures to patent innovations so that the innovators could protect their intellectual property. After this, the university would incubate to see the potential of the product and then partner with industry players to roll out the products to the market.