DII Seminar: TICAD and Trends in Digital Agriculture in Africa
*The Disruptive Inclusive Innovation seminar series provides a platform for the private, public, and academic sectors to share new ideas regarding optimal approaches to innovation for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
On August 30, 2019, GRIPS SciREX Center (Science for Redesigning Science, Technology and Innovation
Policy Center) held a seminar entitled, “TICAD and Trends in Digital Agriculture in Africa.” This was the first in the Disruptive Inclusive Innovation (DII) seminar series.
The invited speakers were Ms. Kemi Afun-Ogidan (Principal Agribusiness Officer, African Development Bank (AfDB) and Ms. Atsuko Toda (Director, Agriculture Finance and Rural Development, AfDB), who were in Japan for the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7). Invited as a discussant was Mr. Manabu Yasuhara (Director and Senior Negotiator for Overseas Investment, Overseas Investment and Cooperation Division, International Affairs Department, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The seminar attracted an audience of 70 people from diverse sectors, including public administration, the private sector, venture companies, and civil society. Lively discussion ensued.
GRIPS Professor Michiko Iizuka gave the opening remarks. She expressed her hope that there would be discussion of mechanisms for disruptive inclusive innovation, which has elements of both disruptive innovation (new technical innovation that achieves higher functionality, lower price, smaller size, and higher usability than existing products) and inclusive innovation (innovation that improves quality of life, impacting people who have not benefited from or engaged in innovation previously). The opening remarks were followed by a talk by Ms. Afun-Ogidan and Ms. Toda, who described the current state of and future outlook for the agricultural sector in Africa. They outlined current AfDB development projects, and commented on trends in digital agriculture in Africa. They commented, “Africa is experiencing rapid digitization, which promises to be the foundation for new business launches. The key issue is how to differentiate businesses and build partnerships.”
Mr. Yasuhara presented the Basic Conception of Agriculture Innovation Platform in Africa (AIPA) as an example of an approach to partnership between the public and private sectors in Japan. The conception was prepared by the Africa Business Conference working group on African agriculture, whose establishment was prompted by TICAD7. The conference was organized and established by Japanese companies, concerned ministries and agencies, government-related institutions, and international institutions. Mr. Yasuhara voiced his hope for the achievement of results in time for TICAD8, to be held in 2022.
In the ensuing discussion, with contributions by participants, there was an animated exchange of views on diverse topics, including: means of improving the social position of women engaged in agriculture; the importance of maintaining awareness of the sentiments of people in the community; and the question of how to tackle issues involving multiple factors, e.g., water supply, energy supply, mobility, and gender. A Kenyan national pursuing studies at GRIPS asked, “The scale of innovation as described here strikes me as extremely large. How can you address the concrete problems actually faced by those engaged in agriculture in Africa?” A responder pointed out that disruptive inclusive innovation affords solutions in newly emergent contexts. The example was given of a Uber-type service for provision of tractors in Nigeria that had alleviated worries about tractor theft. The panelists encouraged all concerned to devise such schemes, and encouraged interchange among the participants.
There will be four more DII Seminar series seminars in this academic year, each on a different theme.
(From left) GRIPS Professor Michiko Iizuka, Ms. Kemi Afun-Ogidan, GRIPS President Akihiko Tanaka, and Ms. Atsuko Toda
Click here to view the document during the event.
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