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Embrace spirit of innovation

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With Lorraine Lusinje:

The word Innovation sounds fancy to most and, in the recent years, has become almost synonymous with digital advancements. As much as we can all appreciate the fact that technology has taken unprecedented strides, innovation is a broader subject and, ideally, a progressive way of adapting to life.

If you take a few minutes to tap your keyboards on a Google search engine, you will find various definitions of innovation that can be summed up as innovation is “a new idea, creative thoughts, new imaginations in form of device or method”. Innovation is often also viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs or existing market needs”. Just as change is the only thing that remains constant, it is only logical that we have to be open to new ways of doing things to survive. Literally.

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We, as a country, are yet to adapt to innovations that other countries in Africa and beyond have adapted to. As much as we like to call ourselves a resource constrained poor country with more uneducated people, which rings our eardrums as a valid excuse for not making certain progressive steps, our biggest stumbling block is more spiritual. Our spirits are laden with the this-is-the-way-it-has-always-been-done energy and we are not that interested in putting in different energy and effort to embrace innovation.

There are many innovations that have emerged in important areas that affect our livelihood and the development of the country— notably in the health sector, education and training, agriculture, industry and manufacturing, banking, media, general communication among others. Sometimes sectors are coming together in innovations that add value to their mutual customers.

For instance, mobile network providers initially had mobile money transfer platforms that they operated without involving banks. When these innovations were introduced, they might have looked like competition to banks. However, companies are looking beyond competition by adapting to innovation and adding value to their services. Most banks have now partnered mobile network providers in push and pulls, a service that enables swift movement of funds between bank accounts and mobile money transfer platforms— a fintech that is conveniently serving people across the country and catalyzing financial inclusion.

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In terms of general innovation, we also have another very important innovation that others disregard at their own peril; climate smart agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations describes “climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as an approach that helps to guide actions needed to transform and reorient agricultural systems to effectively support development and ensure food security in a changing climate. CSA aims to tackle three main objectives: sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes; adapting and building resilience to climate change; and reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions, where possible.”

A country like ours, that largely depends on agriculture for survival, needs to put all available efforts in embracing climate smart agriculture, especially looking at how rapid climate change is affecting the country and the world at large. Two important elements we need to adapt to, while embracing sustainable agricultural methods, are irrigation farming and sasakawa maize planting. This is complemented by diversified farming instead of concentration on one crop, be it for commercial or subsistence purposes.

We, as a country, can gain more by embracing innovations in key sectors of our country. In health, women suffer during pregnancy and after, with cases such as that of obstetric fistula being on the rise, mainly because they are not aware of, or are not embracing, the facilities that are there to improve the provision of maternal healthcare services. In education, some aspects of it are fast becoming obsolete because they are not inclusive of current developments, solutions and technologies. For instance, in other countries, technological advancements allow parents to engage with school authorities and monitor their children’s assignment and school needs and progress from home. This is the world we are living in.

We need to nurture a spirit of innovation as a catalyst to true patriotism. Innovate or die! Innovation is the future.

I rest my case.

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