Nairobi enjoys more benefits of innovation outputs than other counties - UNDP report
December 5, 2022
Nairobi, Tuesday 6th December 2022 - Out of the 200 innovation centers mapped in 47 counties in Kenya, 46% of these centers are in Nairobi, skewing those in the rural areas and other cities. This is according to a new report launched today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kenya. The report calls for an urgent need to decentralize and increase young people’s access to spaces that advance their development and provide an opportunity to develop and test their ideas.
“As a matter of priority, Kenya must address the glaring drawbacks to unlock the immense potential of its innovation landscape. Infrastructure, funding, skills gap and gender disparity are some of the issues that the report flags for stakeholders to address,” said Anthony Ngororano, Resident Representative, UNDP Kenya.
Produced in partnership with Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA), the African Center for Technology Studies (ACTS) and the Association of Countrywide Innovation Hubs, the ‘Mapping of the Kenyan Innovations Ecosystem’, report emphasizes that Kenya undertakes robust steps to harness the immense technological innovation opportunities that promise significant and sustainable economic gains.
Kenya’s robust innovation space saw a significant rise in investments secured and the number of start-ups between 2017 and 2021. The number of start-ups that attracted funding doubled from 40 to 86, while investments increased from $40 million to $280 million. Grants are the main source of funding for start-ups below three years while advanced start-ups receive credit. Even though equity is the most sustainable funding mechanism in an innovation ecosystem, such funding is extremely limited. The report indicates that only 31% of the start-ups in Kenya have received funding, mainly grants (59%) and loans (41%).
“Unlike creditors, equity investors are highly valuable since they are more tolerant to risk and invest for the long term without expecting immediate payments, a key incentive for start-ups to grow and scale up,” added Anthony Ngororano.
For the innovation ecosystem to thrive the report recommends, synergistic collaboration between capital firms, policymakers, innovators, the research community, academia and the private sector to collectively invest towards robust infrastructure, capacity, incentives, and investor readiness. Such deliberate support will unlock development barriers, reduce unemployment, enhance incomes per capita, and contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“We need to work together to create an environment that allows the youth and women to thrive. Women empowerment in the innovation space should not be a cliché. Data has proven that they face several barriers that they must overcome to succeed in business. Promoting women innovators and creating innovations and technologies that meet their needs is a sure way to accelerate Kenya’s promising innovation ecosystem,” said UNDP’s Caroline Kiarie, the Head of Exploration.
Note to editors
Click here to download the 'Mapping Innovation Ecosystem in Kenya Report'.
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