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UNDP Kenya hosted a Stakeholder Consultative Forum with the objective of raising awareness and collaboratively setting priorities for the SDG Accelerator Lab in Kenya following the launch of the global UNDP Accelerator Lab network and the Communique signed between the Government of Kenya and the United Nations. The consultation was intended to create an opportunity for a co-creation process that will enable the Accelerator Lab to be more responsive and catalyse actions that are relevant to the Country’s development. Bringing together a diverse and dynamic mix of Government officials, private sector representatives, development partners, academia, civil society organisations, UN agencies and youth groups, the forum gave participants a platform to network and showcase their innovations.
In his opening remarks, the UNDP Resident Representative Walid Badawi highlighted Kenya’s positioning as a hub of innovation in the region with a rapidly growing and thriving innovation ecosystem that is transforming lives and local economies as well as responding to societal and economic challenges in the country. Mr. Badawi emphasised the importance of partnership to the functioning of the Accelerator Lab, and need to bring diverse stakeholders to the table including target groups and communities as part of the solutions creation process, so as to have multiple perspectives and generate a portfolio of approaches to tackle development challenges.
The UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee, highlighted that Kenya’s population is growing rapidly, with an estimated figure of 100 million by 2050, and as such agribusiness and healthcare will emerge as lucrative industries. Referencing the Communique that was signed between the Government of Kenya and the United Nations, he acknowledged the role of Hon Joseph Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of ICT Kenya in bringing together Silicon Valley and the Silicon Savannah. He recognised the role of big data, technology and innovation as catalysts for achieving progress in healthcare and closed by highlighting the need to equip Kenya’s counties with the knowledge and innovation tools for sustainable development.
The Ministry of ICT presented various innovation initiatives, specifically the Huduma Whitebox, Ajira Programme and Konza Technopolis, which were all noted to be linked to job creation as a key objective. The Accelerator Lab team consisting of Lillian Njoro (Head of Experimentation) and Victor Apollo (Head of Solutions Mapping) presented on the UNDP Accelerator Lab network and the suite of methods that the Lab would employ towards incorporating innovation in sustainable development.
Mr Mukhtar Ogle from the Executive Office of the President reiterated the importance of having a change of mindset when it comes to young people radically rethinking social problems in their societies. He acknowledged the Accelerator Lab as a platform for bringing together stakeholders and emphasized the need for the Lab to go to the grassroots level in all the 47 counties across the country.
Participants at the forum took part in a Collective Intelligence exercise where they collaboratively identified youth unemployment as the most pressing development challenge in Kenya, and hence the challenge that the Accelerator Lab should focus on. The participants also worked in groups to identify and map solutions to address the challenge of youth unemployment, with responses drawing on a strong theme of entrepreneurship: solutions included mentorship and skills training for creative and informal economies, education around Intellectual Property law, expanded polytechnic education and support of youth-led start-ups.
In the closing remark, Mr Philip Thigo, a Senior Advisor from the Office of the Deputy President announced that Kenya had been recently selected to host the 2020 International Open Data Conference and highlighted the Kenya Open Data portal as an initiative by the Ministry of ICT to bridge the gaps in innovation. He also talked about creating opportunities for young people by making change meaningful and resilient. "The Business of Development is the business of everyone" he said. Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of ICT, Dr Jane Munga noted the importance of tapping into the collective intelligence of all Kenyans towards sustainable development and committed to an open-door policy in a bid to make government more accessible to young people.
The forum ended on a high note, with participants agreeing on the importance of creating opportunities for young people by having a global mindset while remaining inclusive for all Kenyans. Mr. Badawi ended with a call to action for everyone to continue engaging through the Accelerator Lab platform and for mutual accountability on the journey towards developing innovative approaches for sustainable development.