AfriAlliance to host first innovation bridge event in Botswana

By Wallace Mawire

Afri-Alliance is organising its first out of five Innovation Bridge Events (IBE) on 26 to 27 October 2016 in Botswana, in collaboration with the 17th WaterNet Symposium, according to the AfriAlliance team.

The team says that the IBE aims to match universities, research organisations, science councils and industrial companies showcasing innovations in water and   climate change with potential collaborators, and investors to facilitate commercialisation of the innovations.

AfriAlliance partner WaterNet is the lead organiser, working closely with the Okavango Research Institute at the University of Botswana.

The first IBE will be composed of two elements – water and climate change innovation exhibition on 26 October under the theme, “Building Climate-Resilience in Agriculture and Water Sector”.

The focus of the exhibition will be on both soft and hard technologies, technologies for farmers to cope better with drought for example new drought resistant crop varieties, making better use of scarce water, as with systems of drip irrigation, water retention and rainfall harvesting techniques.

A plenary session will be organized on 27 October under the theme, “Bridging the gap between innovators, industry, funding partners & policy makers”.

The event will include policy dialogues, and plenary discussions. The discussions will focus on Innovations & Technology in water and climate change, the challenges faced by innovators, industry, funding partners & policy makers, and possible solutions to these problems.

There will also be an opportunity for one-on-one meetings. Finally, a combined focus group discussion to map the way forward will be conducted.

AfriAlliance will organise a total of five Innovation Bridge Events during the course of the five year project, in different regions.

The International Network of Basin Organisations (ANBO) recently issued a call for proposals for the creation of an AfriAlliance Action Group also commonly referred to as a working group or community of practice that will provide seed money to bring together relevant stakeholders, both African and European, experts and decision makers to jointly demonstrate innovative ideas, engage in pilot activities                                                         and share knowledge on specific issues on Africa’s development.

According to a statement sent to partners by the Global Water Partnership-Southern Africa (GWP-SA), some of the themes to be addressed by the proposed alliance will include integrated water resource management, food security and agriculture, human capacity development, climate change adaptation and mitigation including water and climate data monitoring collection, forecasting and analysis.

It is reported that Africa is going to be one of the region’s most in need of innovative solutions for tackling water and climate change related challenges.

It is further added that the successful interaction among relevant stakeholders from both Africa and Europe, in water management is of principal importance when trying to generate, increase and exchange knowledge and innovations that address the demands for solutions that have noticeable and high impact.

It is added that the lack of appropriate water related skills and capacity in some parts of Africa and the widespread institutional fragmentation within Africa as well as between Africa and Europe is a major obstacle to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and addressing water crises, many with         severe climate change implications.

The lack of effective interactions between policy, research and entrepreneurs in Africa means that current mechanisms to successfully transfer relevant EU knowledge and technologies to African economies or vice versa are not enough to accomplish market uptake and provide solutions for pressing local water problems in Africa.

The main objective of the Afri-Alliance project, funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme is for African and European stakeholders to work together in the areas of water innovation, research, policy and capacity development to prepare Africa for future climate change challenges.

The Afri-Alliance project will reinforce water and climate change research and social innovation and cooperation between Africa and Europe through a mix of forward looking and bottom up innovation and road mapping techniques.

Some of the areas the initiative will focus on will include integrated water resource management, food security and agriculture and human capacity development, just to mention a few.

It is reported that for the first call for action groups, the total funding available is Euro 77 500 for five action groups each expected to receive seed funding of Euro 15 500s.