Nokia recently gathered over 200 thought leaders in the ICT industry to discuss and develop a vision and strategy for an Open Innovation Eco-system in Africa.
The event tagged “Open Innovation Africa Summit” was not about Nokia or any of the event sponsors (InfoDev and CapGemini).
Judging from the feedback received, “the meeting potentially marked a moment of shifting into a higher gear in developing innovation ecosystems in the region as well as for establishing partnerships for turning the vision into reality”.
As a participant at the event, I was personally thrilled to meet innovators and experts from 25 countries around the world taking part in discussions about how Africa can innovate herself.
On Nokia’s part, here’s how they plan to innovate Africa.
1. Work with local universities in stimulating ICT education.
2. Provide training for developers across the region via laboratories, incubators and different developer networks.
3. Support establishment of mLabs in Africa (first phase in Kenya and South Africa) and continue to support the existing ones.
4. Provide a well functioning and accessible distribution platform for African developers to get their innovations to the global markets via the OVI store.
5. Ensure access to Nokia innovations such as Nokia Data Gathering open source platform.
6. Provide support for implementation of existing projects as well as new priority projects identified over the summit.
7. Organize Open Innovation Africa Summit in 2011, thus continuing the legacy of the summit and in keeping the established partnerships and networks alive.
First, I’m impressed with the fact that Nokia is gradually focusing on Africa as a region, instead of lumping the region together with the Middle East.
Second, Nokia is now keen on engaging local developers and allowing software programmers innovate on the platform.
This is good.
But Nokia should allow African developers to make money from their apps via the OVI store.
That should encourage local softpreneurship, instead of cash prizes giving out for developer competitions.
Finally, Nokia’s plan to transfer knowledge to developers via laboratories and incubation programmes is a good step.
And the idea of mobile application labs (mLabs) across the region will go a long way in driving innovation.
While we wait to see how all of these plans pan out in the next few months, I’ll be playing a part in connecting developers in Nigeria with the right partnerships and networks.
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