It’s just a few clicks away from being a few shillings richer, thanks to flawless innovations.
Innovation has made life easier in different ways, as not only have some tasks been simplified; it also made it easier to worship when we brought your grandmother into the equation.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, but there is a small problem and that is that almost all of these famous innovations are not homegrown despite an abundance of talent.
Combining innovation with entrepreneurial skills in the country’s higher education institutions could offer incalculable opportunities to many stakeholders, but especially to a population of excited young unemployed people fresh out of college.
As things stand, the employability of graduates is a global challenge and Tanzania was not spared by the 2014 findings of the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) indicating that 61% of The country’s graduates were ill-prepared for the job market – not that the jobs were readily available.
The figures offer a glimpse into the harsh reality of the situation on the ground and in an effort to help turn the situation around, the French Embassy in Tanzania has thoughtfully embarked on a two-year program to support innovation and entrepreneurship for university students, among others.
Thanks to the Innoversity project, as the program has been called, the French government has a grant of more than 1.4 billion / – (570,000 euros) to spend over the two-year period and will collaborate with a Tanzanian company , Sahara Ventures, as an implementing partner and three universities will benefit from the project.
The beneficiary academic institutions are Iringa University, the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology and the Sokoine University of Agriculture.
The French Ambassador to Tanzania, Nabil Hajlaoui, said the project has three main objectives among which is capacity building of the program’s partner universities.
“The aim is to help students, teachers, researchers and management integrate innovation and entrepreneurship to fill skills gaps and create job opportunities for young people. We think there is great potential because the country has a young population which is very promising,” he said.
The Ambassador said that other objectives of the program are to promote entrepreneurship in general and also to raise awareness among students and provide them with the right skills to become successful entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
“Yes, it is important to empower young people and create jobs. But the idea is also to show how we can unleash the creativity of young people in Tanzania, instead of importing solutions, we want it to be proven that solutions produced at home can work to solve local problems”, did he declare.
According to the Ambassador, the only way forward is to add value through entrepreneurship in innovation, adding that the Innoversity project will focus on specific sectors while working with the three beneficiary universities.
“We are committed to supporting higher education institutions beyond academics and research, but also by fusing innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Among the sectors we are going to focus on is the agri-tech sector which is a key sector, especially with the current Ukrainian crisis, as we all know, and many other sectors,” he said. .
The project could not have come at a more opportune time, as the government trumpeted the need to embrace the digital economy as a means of creating jobs for the nation’s youth.
According to the Knowledge Management Director of the Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Samson Mwela, the government has a five-year plan to create jobs and a key area to achieve this is innovation and entrepreneurship. .
“The Innoversity project complements existing government efforts, so it is welcome as we understand the importance of the programs, it will encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, technology transfer and commercialization of research to create new solutions. and job opportunities,” he said.
The managing director of Sahara Ventures, Jumanne Mtambalike, said that the selection criteria for innovators who will benefit from the program will soon be defined, adding that the project will greatly contribute to improving the employability of graduates in the country.
“There have long been calls for the role of universities to be revisited. What is needed are 3G universities that will be at the heart of solving community issues, developing talent and ensuring a lifeline for talent in the country,” he said during a project presentation workshop.
Technological advancements, he added, offer endless opportunities for young graduates and other innovators to become entrepreneurs in their own right, noting that the project is a platform where technology transfers and commercialization of research will be made possible.
Sahara Ventures is the implementing partner of the project whose main mission is to build a stable ecosystem of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa through consultancy and investment.
Mtambalike said that universities are at the heart of the innovation ecosystem in their own environment and as such they need flexibility in their programs and start doing unconventional things and encourage alternative approaches. learning processes such as inviting professionals to share their experience with students.
The director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Iringa University, Deo Sabokwigina, also admits that higher education institutions must accept the fact that times have changed and they must call on the services innovation coaches and mentors.
Iringa University is among the three beneficiaries of the Innoversity project and Sabokwigina commended the French Embassy for coming up with the project, noting that it will give visibility to the university’s students and innovators they work with and will add value to their existing programs.
Most importantly, he said, the program will build the university’s capacity and take it to the next level of scaling up innovations and helping innovators connect with potential innovators.
“We have worked with an innovator in existing programs such as Kiota Hub and we have also worked on finding digital solutions in the agricultural value chain and this project and funding will definitely take us to the next level,” said- he declared.