Understanding the Policy and Institutional Landscape for Technological Innovation Development in Africa to Enhance Youth Employability, Entrepreneurship and Job Creation (UPTIER)
The youth are Africa’s greatest asset. Africa’s youth population is rapidly growing and expected to double to over 830 million by 2050 (AfDB, 2016). If properly harnessed, this increase could support increased productivity and stronger, more inclusive economic growth. Unfortunately, majority of the youth do not have access to stable economic opportunities. Of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is are in wage employment (AfDB, 2016). While 10 to 12 million youth enter the workforce each year, only 3.1 million jobs are created, leaving vast numbers of youth unemployed (Ibid). These conditions have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing the youth unemployment challenges in Africa will require sustainable solutions that can be achieved through effective policy interventions and the strengthening of institutions. Unfortunately, Africa as a whole lacks robust policies and plans on science, technology and innovation (STI), which slows down its progress in attaining industrialization and economic development (Ozor, 2020). There is need therefore, to support policy reviews in countries that will prioritize STI development (Ibid). This is because policies and institutions embedded in STI development have shown to have the greatest potentials to accelerate job creation (AUC, 2014). To make effective policies the use of evidence is paramount (Bowen & Zwi, 2005). Besides, there is no systematic documentation of technological innovations especially by the youth and women that could be supported for commercialization.
It is against this backdrop that the UPTIER project proposes to review the STI policy and institutional landscape/ecosystem in selected countries namely: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda; with a view to understanding their statuses, what works (successes), what doesn’t work (failures) and why (reasons for successes or failures). The findings and lessons learned from the 18 months research will feed into the Mastercard Foundation’s (MCF) Young Africa Works Strategy aimed at providing 30 million young Africans with dignified and fulfilling work. It will also support the MCF’s Research Strategy through the Strategic Research Intervention (SRI) and Knowledge Sharing and Policy Engagement Intervention (KSPEI) pillars of this project by providing the requisite evidence-based knowledge useful for STI policy decision-making for innovation development and job creation.