The year 2013 marks the 50th anniversary celebration of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). It will is also a little more than a decade since the formation of the African Union, which seeks to promote an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena. Consequently, the Africa Union Heads of State declared the year 2013 the Year of Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance.

Thus to celebrate the Year of Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance,   the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has launched COMESA Innovation Awards scheme to recognize and celebrate individuals and institutions that have used science, technology and innovation to further the regional integration agenda

This is expected to facilitate and celebrate African narratives of past, present and future that will enthuse and energize the African population and use their constructive energy to accelerate a forward looking agenda of Pan-Africanism and renaissance in the 21st century. It provides a unique opportunity, and comes at a moment when Africa is on th e rise, and must therefore build its confidence in its future. The exponential growth in scientific and technical knowledge in the 21st Century also provides great opportunities for Africa to solve its critical challenges related to meeting basic needs, participating in the growing economy, addressing ecological and climate change problems and improving governance.

Recognizing this, the Secretariat of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has embarked on a new path to technological innovation. The approach seeks to focus on promoting the harnessing of existing technologies and using them to create new enterprises that export to regional and international markets. To achieve this, the COMESA Authority is planning to mobilize resources mostly from the private sector to promote innovation in the region. The aim is to harness, nurture and grow the innovative capacities of the youthful population in the region.

It is worth noting that over the past decade COMESA helped its 19 member states reduce trade barriers and increase trade flows. In 2000 intra-COMESA trade in goods was US$3.1 billion. The figure stood at US$19.3 billion in 2012.The goal is to increase intra-COMESA trade volumes to US$42 billion by 2017 to enhance the quality of life of the people in the region through exploitation of the existing knowledge in the World in producing goods and services.

To achieve this target COMESA has agreed to focus on an aggressive program to foster the development of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). It is envisaged that SMEs would serve as the vehicle for harnessing existing technologies and using them to enhance industrial production and commerce. The SMEs would need to be technology-based and possess high potential for growth. However for this to happen, there is a need for seed capital  to promote this approach and the creation of  an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to prosper. The COMESA innovation award is the first step towards creation of the regional Innovation fund. The fund when in place will be used to promote the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the region to tap the innovative capacities of the youth.

To realize this goal, COMESA Council of Ministers instituted the COMESA Innovation Awards at its 31st Meeting held in November 2013 in Kampala Uganda. The aim of the COMESA Innovation Award is to recognize and celebrate individuals and institutions that have used science, technology and innovation for practical applications to further the COMESA regional integration Agenda and significantly improve the quality of life of the people in the region. The prizes shall be awarded annually on the occasion of the COMESA Heads of States and Governments Summit and presented to the winners by the hosting Head of State.
Read More: Call for Nominations:COMESA Innovation Awards

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