Africa Should Commercialize Socially Responsive Innovations


I often hear people preach the gospel which is written in the bible but at this year’s innovation summit i had the pleasure of hearing the TD Jakes of Innovation in Africa.

Meet the SABS GM of Design Institute, Mr Gavin Mageni who took us through how to take local entrepreneurs to global greatness through design thinking. Gavin believes in a famous quote which says “that once the mind is strained to a new dimension it never returns the same”.

He posed a mind boggling question, “Do we actually understand the economic potential of our continent”? The silence in the room was daunting and Gavin began to preach Innovation.

If we knew the economic potential of our continent we would be exploiting it, if you dont know the problems you have, you wont know the solutions. Where the world sees trade we see aid, they seem to be investors in our continent but are really here for economic gain for their own country, he said”

What is holding us back from being the economically strong country in Africa? Its not lack of funding, intentions nor policy, it is our inability to converge our efforts into targeted actions.

We need to stop debating the truth and create solutions, stop stating the obvious and build new enterprises. Commercialization lacks while billions are invested in research.
We lack the ability to influence the creation of jobs, opportunities and producing locally. We are permanently planning with limited time for auctioning the plans.

The time has come where we should start turning ideas into products, enhance local production capacity and create market pipelines to ensure sustainability of these new industries.

Gavin mentioned that Tehcnology Innovation Agency is one of the agencies turning ideas into active products that are marketable. Person > Idea > Business model, every idea is a good idea but not every idea is commercializable.
Active co-creation of a successful business lies in application learning not theory learning.

Gavin had us all thinking and i believe moving forward we will be writing great success stories about products made in South Africa which are in demand globally.