One thing that COVID-19 did right was forcing us to really look up the word 'innovation ' understand it well and then invest heavily in it! Being a 90's born and trying to reflect back on what truly was the narrative I grew up around I fail to pin point a time where I heard or believed that 'innovation ' or 'technology' was for everyone. I remember vividly how I automatically categorised myself as the girl who was into history and social studies and that was the path I would take. To me or my other 90's crew STEM subjects were just of those that would be known as 'geeks 'or those that teachers would clap for them each time they scored high in those specific subjects.
Fast forward to where we are today and even before COVID-19 'technology' and 'innovation' is the new cool. Now what COVID-19 did despite it's ugly side, was it amplified the need for more of us to be innovative and come up with solutions that would solve our social calamities and still make us look cool. We are in a world where innovation is the beacon of hope and of growth! No innovation is wrong or nullified once put across and made adaptable. We are in a time where STEM now is STEAM because innovation and technological adaptation is infinite and goes beyond what we thought was enough. Art & creativity is part of the innovation band wagon and incorporating technology is not only important but necessary.
But now the other challenge still steams down to us talking a lot about innovation and technology adaptation and not really drawing up ideas on how to really own everything and not just in a span of months or even years. We are bringing up projects that are training and showcasing the possibilities being endless and advocating for more of us being in the technology industry. A lot of seed funding, grants and capital is being chimed into our streams and ideas yet not much is being talked about on how to identify the hook and protect yourself from being lost in translation.
We are celebrating more on how girls and young people are designing and are defining innovations yet if we look deeper into it we realise we are not being encouraged or taught about how to be able to be sustainable and functioning on our own once all that is gone. As a result, we are loosing so much of our innovations, inventions and ideas outwards forcing us to start off all over again because we have short term goals and managed to be convinced that innovations and ideas are infinite and that we shall always come up with new ones and once one is made and has achieved its potential we let it go.
So let me play devils advocate for a bit, being a young woman supporting Girls and Young people in tech and advocates for more investments put into educating innovators on how to protect themselves, their ideas and their work. We need to reduce our excitement on external parties liking our ideas and owning 3/4 of our work and focus more on sustaining our Innovations, protecting them, growing them and building them to be more home bound rather than letting them go. As much as being an innovator is truly exciting and fulfilling we need to start demanding more than just funding, we need to start asking for sustainable financial & commercial solutions that would help our industry grow more and make us the owners of our own innovations.
The industry is currently booming Locally, Regionally and Globally but we need to strengthen our ecosystem to be of our own. One that would have a greater percentage of African ownership, where we create our own training blueprints that would be used by the generations to come after in order to thrive and evolve in our Innovation and technological industry. Our ecosystem need us to amplify our spaces, our ideas and our voices to transform our continent into the strongest innovation think tanks using our own ideologies and beliefs.