On 27 May 2022, the East African Community (EAC) hosted a regional stakeholders’ engagement forum that took place in Kampala, Uganda. The regional gathering brought together key innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem actors from startup support organisations, the business community, academia and governance institutions of science and technology. The participants came from the EAC Partner States Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The workshop was organised by the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), through the project dSkills@EA.
The aim of the workshop was to explore opportunities for enhancing regional collaboration and forming synergies between the national ecosystems, with offers for practical solutions that contribute to EAC’s digital transformation initiatives for regional development and integration. National innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem stakeholders from across the EAC were represented, such as the East African Communications Organization (EACO) and Envisage Incubator from Rwanda; Koneta Hub and UNDP Accelerator Hub from South Sudan, Tanzania Startup Association (TSA) and Nelson Mandela Institution for Science and Technology (NM-AIST) from Tanzania; Association of Startup and SMEs Enablers of Kenya (ASSEK) and Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA) from Kenya, StartHub Africa and D4D Hub from Uganda, University of Burundi and Aclis Africa from Burundi, to mention but a few.
In depth group discussions were focused on how key actors in the ecosystem can strengthen their roles and contributions in supporting young innovators scale their ideas and implement digital solutions that are demand-oriented and market-driven. An agreement was made on priority areas for regional research as well as further deliberation of collaboration in areas of synergies between the dSkills@EA project and potential stakeholders, that support dynamic interaction among the academia, industry and innovation support networks in the region.
The workshop docked onto the Digital Innovations for Business Resilience Programme by dSkills@EA that hosted its Grand Finale the day before. The competition had called upon young innovators from all over the EAC to showcase their innovative business ideas.