8.7 million euros from Finland for SAIS programme

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Strauss Lunyangwe

Windhoek-The Southern African Innovation Support Programme Phase II was launched in the capital last week. The programme will run from 2017 until 2020 and focusses on youth and innovative entrepreneurship.

Speaking at the opening of the seminar, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Higher Education Alfred van Kent noted that one of the key challenges we face in our economies is the rising level of unemployment.

“What is worrisome is the issue of youth unemployment that is rising in most of our countries. Poverty levels are also growing, and issues of inclusion are becoming critical as stipulated in the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Partnership is a critical factor in SDGs that are raised as one of the factors that should be accommodated,” said Van Kent.

The Southern African Innovation Support Programme (SAIS) is a regional innovation support program which includes a group of Southern African countries. The network consists of member countries and SADC.

The overall objective of the second phase of the programme is enhanced regional innovation cooperation and national innovation systems of the participating countries contributing to the inclusive business and employment.

This means support to new entrepreneurships, diversification of businesses and support towards the development of social and environmental solutions. The second phase of the programme is supported by countries, such as Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, Tanzania and Finland.

The first phase of the programme was concluded in November 2015, which stimulated regional policymaking, provided training, created networks and funded piloting of new innovation support models.

An operational network was also created between key institutions and participating countries. The second phase has welcomed new partner countries this time around namely South Africa and Tanzania.

Finnish Ambassador to Namibia Anne Saloranta added that the “SAIS programme and its priorities are fully in line with Namibia’s development plans, corresponding well to the recently launched 5th National Development Plan (NDP5) and in particular it’s focus areas of economic progression and social transformation’’.

Finland is regarded as one of the most competitive and innovative countries in the world. Last year Finland was ranked as the biggest contributors to global innovation in the world, by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).

The SAIS programme has keenly supported innovation in Africa in the past. The innovations play a crucial role in empowering people to lift themselves out of poverty and equip them to become fully participating citizens in their own countries with the ability to contribute towards development across borders.

The programme has built the base and model for deepening the innovation cooperation, engaged the partner countries, created networks and started important pilot projects, as well as implemented capacity building activities.

The first phase of the programme has reached over 6,300 people through network building and has supported close to 150 companies.

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