After the convention of hubs organized last year by i4Policy, during which innovation community leaders from across Africa co-created the Africa Innovation Policy Manifesto, the first meeting of the Africa Innovation Policy Task Force took place at Impact Hub Kigali in Rwanda.
i4Policy is a pan-African movement gathering over 140 Innovation Hubs from 43 African countries. The 21 members of the Task Force include several GIG members: Sheila Birgen of iHub, Kenya; Markos Lemma of iceaddis, Ethiopia; and, Jaiksana Soro of Platform Africa, South Sudan & Uganda. Jon Stever of The Office & Impact Hub Kigali in Rwanda hosted the meeting and convened the task force as lead of the i4Policy secretariat. I was invited to take part in both the 2018 and 2019 events as an observer – and I did observe history in the making!
After three intense and long days of co-creation to update the Manifesto (one evening ended after 3am!), the Task Force presented a new outline of the Africa Innovation Policy Manifesto and work plan for the activities of i4Policy at a public event on Wednesday, May 14. The community will further refine the Manifesto through internal consultation, and intends to launch a coordinated consultation across the continent in October.
In addition to the regional work, i4Policy brings together innovation community leaders on a national level in deliberative and participatory open innovation activities to engage innovation communities in the development of laws and strategies. Jon explains the policy hackathon format much better than I could in a blog post for World Bank:
Typically, a hackathon is an event where computer programmers and other experts collaborate to develop new software and applications. A policy hackathon works in much the same way. A mix of stakeholders are invited to a facilitated, user-driven policy workshop to harness their collective intelligence and design solutions for identified problems. During these hackathons, policy-users are asked to adopt a policymaker’s perspective to create and propose legislation that can dismantle barriers to innovative entrepreneurship.
It is truly amazing to see the momentum and impact that i4Policy has, organizing policy reform processes in Rwanda, Nigeria, Senegal, Côté d’Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, Togo and Botswana to co-draft national policies intended to accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation. Next week i4Policy is teaming up with the Ghana Hubs Network to launch a national tour of Policy Hackathons, with events scheduled in 10 regional capitals to co-create a draft National Entrepreneurship Act in support of the Government’s efforts to support innovation and youth employment.