Why innovation is key to solving problems, harnessing opportunities in Nigeria

The role innovation plays in any country’s pursuit for socio-economic turnaround was central to the various discussions at the Nigeria Innovation Summit held recently at the Sheraton Hotels in Lagos, Nigeria.

The annual summit themed: “Transforming Nigeria’s Economy through Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship”, was organized by Emerging Media to foster a culture where government, businesses and entrepreneurs can leverage innovation and technology to solve problems and move the country forward.

Davis Cook, CEO at the Research Institute for Innovation and Sustainability (RIIS), South Africa who spoke at the summit said innovation is not necessarily about creating new technologies or just replicating solutions from developed countries.

Making reference to the Uber example, Cook said that Africa must find new ways to utilize technologies to solve the continent’s problems.

According to him, “We need to ultimately think deeply about how we utilise technology in a different way. Technology is not necessarily innovation. For instance, the technology that underpins Uber is not a technology innovation, it is a business model innovation. What they did is they recognized they could use existing technology in an interesting way to solve a problem. All of a sudden, they changed the face of transportation industry around the world.

“Technologies that we can use to solve our problems have already be done, and they exist. What we need to think about is ‘how do we apply those technologies in ways that make sense to us in our environment.”

Officials at the summit

MD/CEO, Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria(PHN) , Dr. Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq stressed the need for bold innovation in the country’s health sector. He said partnership with innovative private companies can help address some of the critical problems in the health sector. “Our health outcomes are at suboptimal level.

“Over 60 per cent of Nigerians make use of formal and informal privately owned health care facilities. How do we leverage on telcos like Etisalat, MTN to disseminate the right kind of information to healthcare seekers? There are innovations that can potentially be adopted from the corporate private sector that can help strengthen the health system,” Umar-Sadiq added.

Bankole Oloruntoba, founder of Network of Incubators and Innovators in Nigeria (NINE) spoke on Open Innovation in Nigeria: Challenges and Opportunities, saying open innovation largely relies on the skills and talents of people to solve problems. He added that open innovation enhances global talent mobility, increase of venture capital and government funding, more market focused academic research among others.

Giving his welcome address, Tony Ajah, Director, Innovation Summit and Chief Operating Officer, Emerging Media, said Nigeria can become a global economic giant “if we embrace and invest heavily in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

“The absence of a clear-cut national policy document for technological development has over the years hampered the nation’s drive in using technology for economic development as we see in some countries. It’s our call to change the narrative. The world is changing. Times are changing, it’s time we change too,” he added.

Photos: Williams Ojo

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Deji Aroloye63 Posts

    a graduate of Linguistics and a staff writer at Outrepreneurs, Deji's forte includes tech, startups and innovations. Years back, Deji wrote on Entertainment and Lifestyle for a tabloid. If he wasn't a writer, Deji would be a photographer or teacher.

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