Innovation is at the core of Canadian approaches to socioeconomic development and Canada’s emphasis on innovation is often highlighted by distinctively consistent financing of Innovation. This includes 700M$ in funds recently earmarked by the Government of Quebec to sustain innovative manufacturing ventures in Quebec, or the 36 M$ fund allocated to the research project on “Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa “(IMCHA) and jointly funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Global Affairs Canada, and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The IMCHA project, which the aim is to “improve maternal, newborn, and child health by using primary health care as an entry point to strengthen health systems, ensuring they are more equitable…” displays a feminist approach to innovation and international development that primarily focuses on women and children issues and concerns as the backbone of north-south cooperative agendas. Legitimate approach that however should now also consider entrepreneurial and technological innovation as a focus point of international cooperation and development initiatives. Canada’s innovative fiber and legacy is globally celebrated and Africa yearns to tap into this innovative potential by seeking and involving Canadians professionals, entrepreneurs and businesses in local development initiatives. Africa is now the battleground where the global community addresses various issues and challenges, of global relevance, that still interferes with globalised socioeconomic development; and indeed, Africa is where the future of humanity lies. The strategic place of Africa in our global future was in fact the main topic of the Vivatech conference that took place in Paris from May 24 to May 26, 2018. During this event, notable guest speakers, such as, Emmanuel Macron (current French president) and Paul Kagame (current African Union president and Rwanda president) underscored the huge technological and innovative potential of African start-ups; both speakers highlighted the crucial contribution of African start-ups to global technological advancements. President Macron also first revealed a 65M$ investment on African start-ups made by the French government, via the governmental institution Agence Française de Développement. A broad Francophone digital strategy is thus being implemented that puts Africa at the centre of international cooperation initiatives and emphasises technological innovation as the cornerstone of development. Corporations in the North are consequently re-strategizing and redefining their approaches to business in the continent as several axes of commercial cooperation are being organised. Governmental institutions are too following suit, and it is to be noted that Quebec has recently opened a General delegation (the most important office of Québec abroad) in Africa, namely in Dakar, Senegal. Meanwhile, in Africa, processes and initiatives supporting innovation are gearing up, with the recently implemented « Startup Act » that catalyses Tunisian TICs sectors and the scheduled creation, still in Tunisia, of an African Centre for Digital Technology. An International Trade Fair on ICT also unfolded in Tunis from April 10 to 12, 2018, with the presence of a significant Canadian delegation composed by entrepreneurs and officials from Quebec and Canada. Africa’s potential is real and certain, despite the continent still facing technological hurdles that constrains the growth of several sectors, such as, the energy sector, education, farming and agriculture, environmental protection and infrastructures, both public and private. Innovative solutions are thus needed and the continent could learn from Canada’s successful experiences and mishaps. Let’s discuss this further on the 15th and 16th October of 2018 at the International Forum on African Digital Potential in Montreal.
The World Bank, the African Bank of Development, and the International Monetary Fund are International Financial Institutions (IFI) whose aim is to finance investment-friendly countries. This way, they contribute to the development of local companies, as well as both private and public infrastructures in each country where it operates. The World Bank thus recently allocated 200M$ to a development project for an off-grid solar system in Africa. This infrastructure project benefits several African countries, including, Mauritania, Chad, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. The Senegalese Makhtar Diop is, in fact, the World Bank’s Vice President in charge of Infrastructures, his offices deal with a wide range of issues, from transportation, the digital economy, the energy and extractive sectors, to financing for infrastructures projects and public-private partnerships. Training and formation are crucial elements of industrialisation processes being implemented in Africa; Quebec, and Canada, have undeniable expertise in these areas, expertise Africa eventually ought to emulate. Such vision has clearly been highlighted by African decision-makers, at all levels. During a recent Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank emphasis was drawn on the major importance of training as a vehicle for allowing young people to take advantage of the evolution of modern technologies and to prepare for the professions of the future. Korea announced a $ 5 billion financial package to Africa during these Annual Meetings that will go, inter alia, toward improving youth training and leveraging technology for inclusive growth. African decision-makers, partners and stakeholders are teaming up and collaborating such as to effectively elicit the maturation and growth of ICTs sectors on the continent. Such was, for example, the main topic of the 53rd African Development Bank Annuals Meetings on “Accelerating Africa’s Industrialization.” An interesting approach here discussed posited: “Africa and the 4th Industrial Revolution: Opportunities for leapfrogging?” Indeed, considering that both the willingness to act and the finance to sustain actions are effectives, what is currently urgently needed are support, training and formation for the youth, relevant expertise for enterprises and institutions and, finally, viable projects to be implemented. Let’s discuss this further on the 15th and 16th October of 2018 at the International Forum on African Digital Potential in Montreal.