“Zambia, Wow!” Launch of Mukuba UNIPOD Leads Zambia to Join Eight Other Countries Hosting Timbuktoo Hubs

As the country joins 12 other African countries in leveraging youth creative and innovation skills to stimulate development through innovation and technology

February 25, 2024
An image of the Regional Director Ahunna Eziakonwa, the UNDP Zambia Resident Representative, James Wakiaga, and the Minister of Technology and Science, Hon Felix Mutati, engaging with Mervis Ngosa, the Zambia innovator behind the Copperslag Stove at the launch of the Mukuba UniPod in Copperbelt University

UNDP Regional Director for Africa, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, Minister of Technology and Science, Hon Felix Mutati, and the UNDP Zambia Resident Representative, James Wakiaga, engage with Mervis Ngosa, the Zambian innovator behind the Copperslag Stove at the launch of the Mukuba UniPod in Copperbelt University

UNDP Zambia

February 26th Kitwe, 2024 – Today marks yet another monumental occasion for UNDP and the people of Zambia as the nation joins 12 other African countries in launching a University Innovation Pod (UNIPOD), a strategic effort to bolster Africa's burgeoning innovation system intended to contribute towards supporting local grass root innovations that respond to development challenges. 

The UniPod is a UNDP flagship initiative, implemented through the Timbuktoo  – a pan-African startup builder and venture fund with aims to bridge gaps in early-stage risk capital for African startups, and the UNDP Accelerator Labs – the largest and fastest learning network for solving development challenges, the UniPod will tap into the incredible potential of makers, creators, and entrepreneurs on the continent to solve complex developmental challenges.

Named Mukuba UniPod, the hub is housed in at the Copperbelt University in Kitwe, creating a space for entrepreneurs and innovators to engage on and exchange ideas, develop prototypes, test solutions, access a wide variety of resources to scale ideas into marketable solutions.

The launch of Mukuba UNIPOD is therefore an opportunity to engage youths to channel their talents towards innovative solutions – a cornerstone of sustainable development.

Speaking at the launch of the UNIPOD in Kitwe, the UN Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa shared that “the launch of the University Innovation Pod (UniPod) underscores Zambia’s pivotal role alongside 12 other African nations, demonstrating the transformative power and strategic influence of innovation influence of innovations in improving the lives of people.

Ms Eziakonwa expressed joy at both the nation of Zambia and CBU in particular for achieving this landmark status in the use of technology and innovation to attain sustainable development, “we extend our heartfelt congratulations to Zambia and the Copperbelt University for the monumental achievement of establishing the country's pioneering UNIPOD”.

The UniPod was established after 10 months of implementation has been set to not only cater for the Copperbelt University students but will cater for all innovators across the country with a particular focus on promoting female led grass root innovations, bringing together diverse actors in the innovation ecosystem and leveraging Private sector partnerships with Liquid Intelligent technologies leading the way. With this backdrop, Ms Eziakonwa has recognized Mukuba UniPod as a model UniPod, which must be used in establishing other Innovation Hubs particularly across the country. 

The incredible innovations and technologies that were showcased at what the UNDP Regional Director dubbed as a “Centre of Excellence” has to the re- evaluation of Zambia's suitability as a host for a Timbuktoo Innovation Hub, in addition to the eight innovation hubs in Africa!

“This is a centre of excellence. It is a model for establishing other UNIPODS and I believe that Zambia should be the 9th country to join the Timbuktoo project”, Ms Eziakonwa shared.

Ms Eziakonwa said of Zambia’s readiness to host the Timbuktoo hub, “I think you are ready”

Further, as a continent rich in youth, embedding innovation and technology resources at public institutions like the Copperbelt University will ensure that the door is open to young people seeking opportunities to experiment, innovate and penetrate the startup and technology ecosystem.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Technology and Science, Hon. Felix Mutati MP noted: “I am confident that this platform will serve as a catalyst for innovation, collaboration, and excellence in professional and occupational development, paving the way for a more prosperous and sustainable Zambia.”

"We saw ingenuity. The level of ingenuity is without limit. In the last three years we witnessed UNDP’s partnership with the National Innovation Initiative where over 4000 innovators have been supported.” Honourable Mutati emphasized that the collaboration with UNDP in the past has culminated in the launch of UniPod whilst not ignoring the development of the science and technology policy.

“UNDP has delivered inspiration, hope and progress. What was an idea has now become a reality. This place will forever remember you in technology and innovation,” he shared in his closing remarks.

Also in attendance, Hon Elvis Nkandu, Minister of Youth, Sports and Arts, echoed Hon. Mutati and Ms Eziakonwa’s sentiments saying, “Let us embark on this journey of innovation with optimism, determination, and a shared vision for a brighter future. Together, let us harness the power of creativity, collaboration, and entrepreneurship to propel Zambia towards prosperity and excellence on the global stage. May the university innovation pod at Copperbelt University be a beacon of inspiration and innovation for generations to come.”

The launch reaffirms that with 60% of the continent's population under the age of 25, positioning UniPods in public universities ensures engagement with the youth, channeling their talent towards innovative solutions.

This achievement is a clear indicator of UNDP’s commitment to supporting the growth and sustainability of Zambia's innovation ecosystem through working hand in hand with the Government of Zambia, contributing to Africa's broader innovation landscape.

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For more information and media interviews, contact:

Mercy Khozi; mercy.khozi@undp.org; +260211386200, Lusaka 


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