The Effervesce of Innovation in the Angolan Ecosystem: Towards a Sustainable Economy

20 de December de 2023

Angola is actively cultivating its innovation ecosystem to propel economic growth, technological advancement, and entrepreneurship across various sectors. The pervasive influence of "innovation" in debates, strategies, and events underscores its role as a development catalyst.

In recent years, the proliferation of startups and business incubators in Angola has become notable, playing a vital role in offering guidance, networking opportunities, and occasional funding to early-stage ventures. The UNDP Angola Acceleration Lab collaborates with the Angolan Government and numerous startups, contributing significantly to shaping the “ Future of Work Portfolio ” that UNDP Angola is implementing.

The innovation ecosystem in Angola

While the Angolan innovation ecosystem is still nascent, diverse initiatives led by the government, academia, private sector, and multilateral organizations aim to foster its robust development. The government, particularly through Ministry of Higher Education, Technology, and Innovation (MESCTI), acknowledges the importance of innovation, implementing policies and legal frameworks to support startups. UNDP's support further extends to the creation of the Technology and Innovation Transfer Network, , and the Policy Review on Science, Technology and Innovation in Angola

The study reveals that the innovation system in Angola is still at an early stage compared to other countries in the region (Graph 1). Furthermore, according to the study “Angola was ranked 132nd out of 132 countries in the 2021 Global Innovation Index… Inclusion in the ranking allows us to compare the global strength of the innovation system in Angola with that of other countries in Africa and Asia; the system in Angola is relatively weak not only compared to that of South Africa, which ranks 61st globally, but also to those of other less developed countries.... Furthermore, the sophistication and development of the national innovation are below expectations regarding per capita income.”

Graphic 1: Global Innovation Index, Various Economies, 2021

Despite ranking 132nd out of 132 countries in the 2021 Global Innovation Index, efforts by National Institute of Support for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (INAPEM), backed by UNDP, focus on enhancing the business environment, promoting collaboration between existing startups, and nurturing new ventures through initiatives like the  Start-up Summit and the financing platform, crowdfunding.

Academia's crucial role in promoting innovation involves research, fostering creativity, and organizing innovation events at universities. The academic sector has developed research projects and collaborated with industries to boost innovation, promoting innovation events among students and foster networking and idea generation through initiatives like the innovation centers at Universities .

Although the Start Ecosystem Assessment Report in 2023 highlights Angola's startup ecosystem in an embryonic phase, suggesting growth potential with improved access to financing, markets, and training opportunities, the private sector is the most restless sector and has been trying through initiatives to move the innovation ecosystem in the country, seeking financing, looking for new partnerships, and holding events such as hackathons, pitch competitions, innovation conferences and workshops to bring together individuals interested in entrepreneurship and innovation. These events aim to promote networking, knowledge sharing and the generation of ideas.

Innovation events as a driver of ideas

In the global context of innovation events (Web Summit, Vivatech, TechCrunch, etc.) Angola, mirroring trends worldwide, witnesses a surge in events aimed at stimulating its innovation ecosystem. The Angola Innovation Summit - AiS, initiated by the private sector, stands out as a global knowledge network since 2020, promoting the role of Innovation and Technology in organizational competitiveness and economic and social development.

The AiS 2023, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting, for the first time, to hybrid formats, connects experts, policymakers, investors, startups, and academics globally. Under the theme, "The Role of Innovation for Economic Diversification", the panel, led by UNDP, emphasized the advantages of integrated policies for science, technology, and innovation, highlighting the need for improved coordination and integrated policies for economic diversification.

The panel had the official opening chaired by the Secretary of State for Economy, Ivan Marques dos Santos and with the following speakers: Braúlio Augusto – Executive Administrator of INAPEM, Yolanda Arcelinda – First Program Officer of the African Development Bank and Edo Stork – Resident Representative of UNDP Angola. The panel was moderated by Professor Doctor Fernandes Wanda – Coordinator of the Center for Social Economic Research at Agostinho Neto University.

The main takeaways from this conversation are summarized in the graphical facilitation below.

In reflection, Angola is undergoing a significant transition towards a diversified economy. Despite challenges, continuous support from the innovation ecosystem, including government backing, development partners, and active collaboration with startups, paves the way for a sustainable future and economic prosperity.