Global Alliance Africa project inaugurates the first Innovation Advisory Group for South Africa

Posted on: 12/05/2022

With innovation and entrepreneurship identified as key drivers of economic growth in South Africa’s Gauteng province, Global Alliance Africa inaugurated its first Innovation Advisory Group for the region in early April 2022.

Consisting of more than a dozen key players in local academia, industry and government, the Group will assist Global Alliance Africa with the successful implementation of the recently launched Gauteng Innovation Action Plan (IAP).

Developed in partnership with a range of regional stakeholders, the IAP looks to strengthen the Gauteng innovation ecosystem through clear short, medium, and long-term objectives. Namely, the objective is to build new and stronger UK-African innovation partnerships within the ecosystem by maximising the creation of inclusive market access and increasing collaboration opportunities for local innovation ecosystem partners towards shared goals.

During a series of discussions held at the inaugural meeting, members of the Group reaffirmed the need for meaningful and cross-cutting collaboration between stakeholders in Gauteng innovation.

Commenting on the Group’s significance, the Deputy Director for International Relations at the Gauteng Department for Economic Development, Obakeng Pitsoane, says that:

“We tend to view innovation as a grand endeavour – one that all too easily becomes out of touch – when instead we need to see how innovation relates to the realities of the people on the ground, and how innovation can be used to solve their everyday challenges. In this regard, I look forward to helping make innovation a hands on exercise in Gauteng.”

This was supported by Gail Styger, an Executive Trustee at the Wot-If Trust, who sees her appointment to the Group as an opportunity to drive what she terms ‘co-innovation’ in the province. For her, a collaboration between organisations at different levels of society is key to ensuring that innovation becomes a means of achieving inclusive and sustainable development across communities.

Closing off the group discussion was Buti Makama, an Area Innovation Manager at The Innovation Hub and Programme Manager at eKasi Labs, who added,

“When innovating in partnership with the people of Gauteng, we need to realise that, in most cases, we need to move from a context of no-tech to appropriate tech. While advanced innovations may turn the heads of technocrats, our role in this Group will be to ensure that local people are not alienated by the introduction of new technologies.”

These sentiments were echoed by additional members of the Advisory Group, including Tandokazi Nquma (Technology Innovation Agency); Prof. Barry Dwolatzky (University of the Witwatersrand); Nicki Koorbanally (mLab); Palesa Kambule (Soweto Business Forum); Makhosazane Luthuli (Allegro Enterprises); Mike Jervis (Scarabtech) and Melanie De Nysschen (Grovest).

“We’re incredibly excited to welcome these local community members to our Advisory Group and look forward to working with them over the coming months and year,” says Marisa Naidoo, Knowledge Transfer Manager for South Africa at Global Alliance Africa. “By bringing together experts from the public sector, private organisations, and civil society, we will be better equipped to solve regional challenges, expand on new ecosystem capabilities, and unlock the full potential for innovation in the province.”

For more information on the Gauteng Innovation Action Plan 2022, please follow the below links:

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