Kenya Advances ‘Silicon Savannah' Accelerator Lab to achieve SDGs
23 September 2019
Government signs communique to leverage strategic partnerships and use technology to drive financing and innovation to tackle complex development goals
NEW YORK - The Government of Kenya today signed a Communique with the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at the University of California, Berkeley, along with The Rockefeller Foundation, and the United Nations to inspire future action and support for the delivery of Kenya’s Big Four agenda. The agreement brings together strategic partnerships work with the Government of Kenya to build SDG focused partnerships to drive financing and innovations that help tackle complex development goals.
The Government of Kenya also announced the launch of a co-created SDG Accelerator Lab, that will leverage on the recently initiated UNDP Accelerator Lab Network, as a strategic development platform for Kenya that will bring together the government, private sector, civil society, philanthropy, academia, and young people to reimagine development for the 21st century.
Speaking during the signing event, Hon. Joseph Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of ICT, Kenya stated that “As a government, we recognize that innovation and technology will be at the heart of job creation, the manufacturing industry, guaranteeing food security for the country and ensuring universal healthcare. As a country, we have always taken pride in the space that we have provided to tech start-up communities, who have gone ahead to build some of the most amazing apps and systems. The partnerships signed today will harness the ongoing initiatives in our tech community to accelerate the actualization of our National Development goals. We are thankful for our partnerships with the UN SDG Partnership Platform, UNDP Accelerator Labs Network, Berkeley University CEGA, and the Rockefeller Foundation. We call upon all our partners to join efforts in making the SDG Accelerator Lab a ground-breaking success for leapfrogging the attainment of Kenya’s development priorities”.
At the heart of the Lab is to re-imagine how development work is done, promoting a culture of innovation and experimentation. The capacity to adapt in a rapidly changing environment will become key for the UN to stay relevant and provide effective support to Kenya to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The Rockefeller Foundation has a long history of working with the Government of Kenya to improve the lives and prospects of its citizens. Today we reaffirm our continued commitment and partnership with this communique. We are excited to be part of this journey, and look forward to advancing Kenya’s strategies and partnerships to achieve the Kenya Big Four Agenda,” said Christine Heenan, Senior Vice President for Global Policy and Advocacy, The Rockefeller Foundation.
Tapping into the UNDP Accelerator Labs network, the Kenya SDGs Accelerator Lab aims to leverage and advance knowledge and learning from others through the global network and enrich developmental thinking and implementation through exploration and experimentation of multiple possible ideas and find contextualised solutions that can be deployed rapidly and sustainably.
“Today’s development challenges are complex, and the speed at which they evolve requires agility, innovation, creativity and urgency. How development actors respond to the fast-changing realities of the 21 Century will be based on the ability to harness homegrown solutions and formation of strategic partnerships from global to grassroots levels, that guarantee endless possibilities of ideas and multiplicity of solutions. UNDP Accelerator Labs initiative is one such vehicle that can potentially help to align strategic partnerships with emerging innovations.” Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa.
In collaboration with local actors including the Private Sector and the Academia, the SDGs Accelerator Lab will endeavour in identifying and harnessing homegrown solutions that have proof of concept, with the aim of bringing them to scale, while creating an enabling environment for young innovators to conceptualise, test and deliver interventions that best work for their communities .
“We are delighted by this opportunity to inspire positive social change in Kenya by supporting the Lab with rigorous research and connecting partners to our Silicon Valley enterprise ecosystem,” said Carson Christiano, Executive Director, Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), University of California, Berkeley
Together with the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of ICT, the SDGs Accelerator will build on and complement government led initiatives such as the Ajira Program, Digitalent Innovation Program, the Whitebox Platform and harness the power of tech-innovation to empower youth in becoming solution oriented and employment creators; focusing on women, youth, vulnerable and marginalized groups, underpinning the ambition of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.
UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya Siddharth Chatterjee noted “as the UN in Kenya we strongly believe in the power of partnerships and stand ready to deliver as one our finest support to making the SDG Accelerator Lab a ground-breaking success.”
Notes for the editors:
Kenyan Government Focus on Innovation
Kenya’s Vision 2030, Kenya’s Long-Term Development Blueprint aims to create a globally competitive and prosperous nation, transforming Kenya into a newly industrialising, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030 in a clean and secure environment. ICT is identified as enabler or foundation for socio economic transformation. The Vision recognises the role of Science, Technology and Innovation in modern economy in which new knowledge plays a central role in boosting wealth creation, social welfare and international competitiveness. Kenya’s National ICT policy commits to create incentives, provide funding support for research and innovation.
The Government has created a number of frameworks to drive innovation, such as the recently launched Digital Economy blueprint for Africa and Emerging Digital Technologies for Kenya Report. In developing the frameworks, Kenya recognizes that technologies and innovations are rapidly changing and need supportive ecosystem. Kenya Ministry of ICT has developed a multi-tiered innovation agenda including various strategic initiatives for example: the Ajira program, The Digitalent Innovation Program, The Whitebox platform (which targets innovation on Kenya’s Big Four Agenda), and The Konza Technopolis and Konza Innovation Ecosystem Initiative. All these initiatives support job creation and transformation of Kenya to become an industrialised information society and knowledge economy.
About the Kenya SDG Partnership Platform
Under the leadership of the Government of Kenya, the UN System helped to spearhead in 2017 the SDG Partnership Platform in collaboration with development partners, private sector, philanthropy, academia and civil society. The Platform has become a flagship initiative under Kenya’s new UN Development Assistance Framework 2018-2022 for the optimization of SDG Partnerships, Financing and Innovations in support of Government Development Priorities as framed within Kenya’s Big Four Agenda. For more information: www.ke.one.un.org/content/unct/kenya/en/home/publications.html
About the Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power and the expansion of US economic opportunities. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, the Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations. For more information: https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org
About the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), University of California, Berkley
Headquartered at the University of California, Berkeley, CEGA’s large, interdisciplinary network–including a growing number of scholars from low- and middle-income countries–identifies and tests innovations designed to reduce poverty and promote development. Our researchers use rigorous methods as well as novel measurement tools–including wireless sensors, mobile data, and analytics–to evaluate complex programs, even when randomization is not feasible. Through careful matchmaking, competitive grantmaking, and research dissemination activities, CEGA ensures that the research we produce is relevant, timely, and actionable to policymakers. For more information: www.cega.berkeley.edu
About the UNDP Accelerator Lab
The Accelerator Labs are UNDP’s new way of working in development. Together with our core partners, the State of Qatar and the Federal Republic of Germany, 60 labs serving 78 countries will work together with national and global partners to find radically new approaches that fit the complexity of current development challenges. The labs will transform our collective approach by introducing new services, backed by evidence and practice, and by accelerating the testing and dissemination of solutions within and across countries. Sense-making, collective intelligence, solutions mapping and experimentation will be part of the new offer from UNDP to governments. The Labs will identify grassroots solutions together with local actors and validate their potential to accelerate development. Solutions can come in many different forms, from a farmer discovering a new way to prevent floods to a nonprofit that is especially impactful. The labs will also harness the potential of real time data and people’s energy to respond to rapidly evolving challenges that impact development. Building on these locally-sourced solutions, the labs will rapid test and iterate new ideas to learn which ones work, which ones can grow, and which ones don’t, bringing experimentation to the core of our work. For more information: https://acceleratorlabs.undp.org