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 in its modern meaning 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.
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’s always been done’ energy and we are not that interested in putting in 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, in the healthcare sector, in education and training, in agriculture, in industry and manufacturing, in banking, in media, in general communication et al. Sometimes sectors are coming together in innovations that add value to their mutual customers.
For instance, mobile network providers initially had their own 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 but 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 catalysing financial inclusion.
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 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. 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 that we need to adapt to while embracing sustainable agricultural methods; irrigation farming and sasakawa maize planting. This is complimented 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 from conditions such as Obstetric Fistula mainly because they are not aware of, or are not embracing, the facilities that are there to improve maternal health care services.
In education, some aspects of it are fast becoming obsolete because they have not embraced technologies. For instance, in other countries, technological advancements allow parents to engage with schools and monitor their children’s assignment and school needs and progress from home by having an interactive platform they can log on to. This is the world we are living in and we should adapt to it quickly.
We need to nurture a spirit of innovation as a catalyst for true patriotism. We want to see the country develop and we are the ones to develop it through the innovations we take on in sectors of progressive living. Malawi, I always say, is a country with massive potential; we need to tap into this potential and achieve the much needed growth for our country. Innovate or die! Innovation is the future.
I rest my case.