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Understanding the Policy and Institutional Landscape for Technological Innovation Development in Africa to Enhance Youth Employability, Entrepreneurship and Job Creation (UPTIER)

Project Duration: 15-11-2021 to 15-05-2023
Principal Investigator: Dr. Nicholas Ozor  Email: nozor@atpsnet.org
Grantor: Mastercard Foundation
Grant Amount: US$ 249,616.00

Project Description
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.

Key Objectives and Activities

The UPTIER project aims to understand the STI policy and institutional landscape in selected African countries and use the data and information generated to support evidence-based decision-making in the sectors that will eventually create jobs for the youth. The project will also map the critical stakeholders at individual and institutional (organizations) levels and create platforms for interactions, knowledge sharing, and policy engagements with the relevant actors. The specific objectives of the UPTIER project are to:

  1. Conduct a review of the science, technology and innovation (STI) policy and institutional landscape in selected MCF’s priority countries in Africa with a view to understanding the statuses, what works, what doesn’t work and why;
  2. Undertake a stakeholder analyses and mapping along the technological innovation value chains in the selected countries with a view to understanding the key actors, their roles, linkages, contexts, capacities, interests, power and influence; and
  3. Facilitate knowledge sharing and policy engagement among stakeholders with a view to developing a stakeholder engagement strategy/action plan within and among countries.

Methodology and Work Packages

Two distinct but interlinked intervention pillars in line with the YAW Strategy have been proposed

  1. Strategic Research Intervention (SRI): The UPTIER SRI pillar will focus on strategic policy research activities that will provide critical knowledge, baseline information, data and outputs that can feed into the MCF’s strategic plans and research agenda, position papers, country interventions, investments, and programme strategies for the actualization of the YAW Strategy. Specific activities to be undertaken under the SRI pillar are:
    1. Review and analyses of STI policy and institutional landscape in the selected countries with a view to understanding their statuses, what works (success stories), what doesn’t work (failures), and why (reasons for successes and or failures).
    2. Stakeholder analyses and mapping along the countries’ priority technological innovation value chains with a view to understanding the key actors, their roles, linkages/relationships and contexts as well as their interests, capacities, power, and influence in each country’s priority value chains that might include sectors such as STI, agriculture; ICT; education; industry; environment; and energy.
  2. Knowledge Sharing and Policy Engagement Intervention (KSPEI): The KSPEI pillar will focus on creating innovative platforms among the stakeholders already mapped among others for sharing evidence-based knowledge, building partnerships for greater impacts, networking, learning, and dialogue. The KSPEI pillar will also promote policy engagement sessions in the selected countries to bridge the gaps between research, policy, and practice (industry) towards the sustenance of STI development in Africa. he specific activities that will be undertaken under this pillar are:
    1. Development of a knowledge-sharing and stakeholder engagement strategy/action plan with a view to enhance the bridging of the gaps between STI research, industry and policy development in the selected countries. Different channels of research-to-policy and research-to-industry translations and engagements will be explored in the strategy/action plan.
    2. Organize policy engagement workshops in two of MCF’s priority countries (one each in East and West Africa) to strengthen the linkages among the research, policy and industry actors towards technological innovation development and evidence-based policymaking for Africa’s overall transformative change.

Expected Outcomes

  1. An in-depth understanding of STI policy and institutional landscape in the selected countries.
  2. A knowledge sharing and stakeholder engagement strategy/action plan was developed with a view to enhance the bridging of the gaps between STI research, industry and policy development in the selected countries.
  3. Strengthened linkages among the research, policy, and industry actors towards technological innovation development and evidence-based policymaking.

Project Outputs

  1. ATPS Technopolicy Brief No. 63 – Is Ethiopia’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy Landscape Effectively Creating Jobs and Fostering Skills for the Youth?
  2. ATPS Technopolicy Brief No. 64 – Harnessing Science and Technological Innovation for Youth Employment and Skill Acquisition in Ghana
  3. ATPS Technopolicy Brief No. 65 – Unlocking the Potential of Education and Skills for Supporting Youth Employment in Kenya
  4. ATPS Technopolicy Brief No. 66 – Leveraging Science, Technology, and Innovation for Enhanced Youth Employment in Nigeria
  5. ATPS Technopolicy Brief No. 67 – Understanding Rwanda’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Landscape in Youth Employment Creation
  6. ATPS Technopolicy Brief No. 68 – What is the Place of Science, Technology, and Innovation in Youth Employment in Senegal?
  7. ATPS Technopolicy Brief No. 69 – Fostering the Future and Livelihood of Young People in Uganda Through Science, Technology, and Innovation
  8. ATPS Technopolicy Brief N0. 71 – Quelle Est La Place De La Science, De La Technologie Et De L’innovation Dans L’emploi Des Jeunes Au Sénégal?
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