The sub-Saharan youth populace, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report, is expected to double to over 830 million by 2050. This rapid population growth, experts aver, will bring unprecedented opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation to the young demographic considered Africa’s greatest asset.
Unfortunately, many young Africans lack the opportunities, training and support to exploit and develop their ideas for businesses and enterprise.
Against this backdrop, the British Council recently launched a programme tagged “Innovation for African Universities” (IAU), an initiative aimed at bringing together universities in Nigeria, across sub-Saharan Africa, universities in the UK and organisations, to support the entrepreneurial ecosystems in the sub-Saharan region.
The IAU programme comprises 24 project partnerships created to grow and strengthen the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation within universities in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and the UK.
According to the British Council, the programme aims to grow universities’ capabilities for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, and developing the skills graduates require to build sustainable industries, companies and services.
The council added that the innovation is targeted at strengthening the capacity of universities to support students with entrepreneurial ambitions, enable universities to participate and provide meaningful contributions as key players in the entrepreneurship ecosystem in their respective countries, enhance students’ employability and support economic development across the region, through stronger peer to peer connections, and sharing best practices and knowledge between higher education institutions.
Having invited universities in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa and the UK to apply as network partners, the council noted that successful 2021 IAU network partners will receive £60,000 funding to deliver their projects.
Commenting on the innovation, Moses Anibaba, regional director, sub-Saharan Africa, British Council, said bringing together universities from across the UK and sub-Saharan Africa with organisations supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the region, will help facilitate an exchange of learning, ideas, knowledge and connections to enable universities to become key champions for innovation and entrepreneurship.
“At the British Council, we recognise the key role universities can play in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa, helping enable African youth to become the job creators of tomorrow and drivers of economic development in the continent,” he added.
In his remarks, Bosun Tijani, CEO of Co-Creation Hub, Nigeria, noted that the project fosters a better relationship and connectivity between the academic institutions and the private sector. This, he said,will help address some of the significant problems in society while strengthening their understanding of how they can participate in innovation.