On November 9, 2021, KTN Global Alliance Africa held its Ekiti State Innovation Action Plan Launch Event, hosting local innovation stakeholders from diverse sectors.

The KTN Global Alliance Africa project is a six-year project funded by UK Aid through Innovate UK (GCRF) and FCDO.

At the launch, stakeholders expressed their commitment to supporting Place-Based Innovation in the State, while panellists discussed ways to ensure the programme’s effectiveness.

Dr. Nee-Joo Teh, the Project Director of KTN Global Alliance Africa, described the event as a milestone for the organisation. Explaining KTN’s choice of a Place-Based Innovation model, he said,

“At KTN, we have recognised the shifting trend both in the UK and internationally, away from innovation and development policies focusing on a top-down approach, towards a more inclusive place-based specialisation model based on the unique competitive capabilities of each region.”

Key stakeholders delivered keynote speeches expressing their commitment to supporting Place-Based Innovation in Ekiti. Speakers included Ben Llewellyn-Jones, the British Deputy High Commissioner, Lagos, Nigeria; Hon Akin Oyebode, Ekiti State Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development; and Dr. Olabode Adetoyi, Ekiti State Commissioner for Agriculture. On his part, Akin Oyebode spoke about the state government’s existing actions and plans to make Ekiti the technology hub of Nigeria while the Commissioner for Agriculture emphasised the importance the Ministry places on partnering with KTN Global Alliance Africa on Place-Based Innovation.

During the event, all stakeholders received copies of KTN Global Alliance Africa’s Place-Based Innovation (PBI) Audit Report and the Ekiti State Innovation Action Plan (IAP). Panellists from diverse sectors in the State also discussed measures that would ensure the success of Place-Based Innovation in Ekiti State. The first panel session, moderated by Adaeze Sokan, focused on ‘Leading an effective Place-Based Innovation approach in Ekiti’. Panellists were Dr. Tope Aroge, the Secretary General of the Industrial Cassava Stakeholders Association of Nigeria; Omowumi Ogunrotimi, the Founder and Executive Director of Gender Mobile Initiative; and Joel Ogunsola, the Co-Founder, Director of Partnerships and Sustainability, Tech4Dev.

Dr. Aroge opined that based on his experience in the State, Place-Based Innovation in Ekiti is a spark for existing programmes, and consistency of policies and a long-term focus would drive effectiveness. Ms. Ogunrotimi spoke extensively on the need for stakeholders to have a common front and bolster local ownership to ensure that the outcomes and processes of the Place-Based Innovation programme are embedded in the needs, yearnings, and aspirations of those communities. Concluding on the subject, Mr. Ogunsola said,

“Stakeholders need to have a shared understanding of what success is, otherwise it is not possible to collaborate.”

During the panel discussion on ‘The role of an effective stakeholder network in driving innovation in Ekiti State’, Professor Ayo Ajayi, a lecturer at Afe Babalola University, Ekiti, emphasised that Ekiti stakeholders need to “aggregate talent to achieve critical mass” in order to make the State attractive to global stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem.

After the keynote speeches and panel discussions, Emma McKenna, Head of Net Zero, KTN, presented the Ekiti State Innovation Action Plan and the PBI Audit Report, explaining the process of engaging stakeholders and the design process that led to their creation.

“Beyond launching, the next stage is about creating and delivering positive change within Ekiti, by delivering new networks and developing new partnerships. We are really keen to bring in the other innovation networks we host here in KTN in the UK, to address some of these shared innovation challenges and opportunities that are also prominent in Ekiti.”

Finally, KTN Global Alliance Africa’s Country Lead for Nigeria, Lamide Johnson, reiterated that KTN is committing its resources, partners, and initiatives to achieving Place-Based Innovation in Ekiti, Nigeria.

“We are coordinating and catalysing, saying there is innovation in this place, but we need the local innovation network to drive this programme.”

He went on to encourage stakeholders to spread the word to others they believe should be in the Local Innovation Network which was officially announced during the event. Lamide also gave highlights on TVC News Nigeria of what KTN Global Alliance Africa aims to achieve in preparing Ekiti for business. You can watch the report here.

The launch was followed by the public release of the Place-Based Innovation Regional Audit Report and Ekiti State Innovation Action Plan.

To learn more about Place-Based Innovation in Ekiti, please download the Audit Report here and read the Ekiti State Innovation Action Plan here.

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