On 26th April, DIGILOGIC participated in the annual Finnish Week of Business in Zambia (FWBZ) by Dr Stephen Fox being a panelist in the panel discussion Maximising Opportunities: Partnering with Innovation Hubs.
The FWBZ panel discussions are organized and moderated by the Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS). This is a regional initiative that supports the growth of new businesses through strengthening innovation ecosystems and promotion of cross-border collaboration between innovation role-players in Southern Africa. SAIS is supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Finland, in partnership with the Ministries responsible for Science, Technology and Innovation of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat. Other panelists were Mr John Nambwa, Manager, Kafue Innovation Centre, Zambia; Mr McKevin Ayaba, Chief Executive Officer, Setup a Startup, South Africa; and Ms Pamela Kapaya, Assistant Public Relations Officer, National Technology Business Centre (NTBC), Zambia. Each panelist brought their own perspectives to partnering with Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH).
With regard to how European innovation hubs can best partner with counterparts in Africa, Dr Fox, Senior Scientist, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and DIGILOGIC partner, emphasized the value for European DIHs of African DIH’s local and regional expertise. He highlighted the importance of DIHs to facilitate leapfrogging over fixed industrial infrastructures that can require massive capital investment and can be unsustainable. In particular, digital innovation can encompass leapfrogging over fixed industrial infrastructure by virtual-social-physical convergence where Internet and/or GSM can support social exchange with physical resources. For example, Internet / GSM-enabled pay-as-you-go (virtual) for urban-rural transport of medical supplies (social) within light-weight solar-powered cold chain units that can be carried through challenging terrain by resilient low cost transport such as pack animals or motorbikes (physical). During Q&A, Dr Fox pointed out digital is not solely dependent upon the Internet, and can encompass GSM technology, rural telecentres, and rural radio. Thus, there are wide range of resources that can enable leapfrogging by virtual-social-physical convergence in rural as well as urban areas.