Traditional industrialisation models that have brought growth, prosperity and innovation in the past are being superseded by digital growth models that offer improved production processes and accelerated economic development.
At the centre of these newfound models is technological innovation, which is increasingly disrupting traditional sectors and encouraging the inclusive economic growth that addresses development challenges for many emerging markets. As a result, technological innovation is increasingly becoming an important feature in emerging markets’ development stories with the prospect of fostering development when the right support ecosystems are in place.
The SADC region is not trailing far behind in the use of technological innovation to foster growth with a small but fast-growing tech-enabled community. Digital financial services, such as M-Pesa and M-Pawa in Tanzania, are playing a notable role in reducing the marginal costs of extending financial access to previously un/under-served consumer segments.
However, the region is still trailing in the translation of technological innovation to meaningful social and economic impacts. Technological advancements have fallen short in encouraging the inclusive economic growth that has a real impact on people’s lives, empowering the economically excluded and decreasing poverty. Many digital solutions remain inaccessible to the poor, and despite solutions like M-Pesa illustrating the potential of enhancing digital and economic inclusion in the region, there are few other successful cases.
Genesis was contracted by FinMark Trust and the Insights 2 Impact (i2i) Facility to conduct an innovation scoping study for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to identify the drivers of innovation ecosystem development and opportunities to enhance the innovation ecosystem in the SADC.
The study covered Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. These countries provided different “market profiles” enabling the analysis of unique and contextual nuances that exist in the SADC region. Guided by a comprehensive analytical framework, the study provides a depiction of the state of the innovation ecosystem in each market as well as a cross-country comparison of the state of the innovation ecosystem across the SADC.
FinMark Trust and i2i are using the findings from the study to support targeted interventions to develop the innovation ecosystem and as such, encourage technological innovations that sustainably addresses the key development challenges in the SADC region.