Innovation in the African context with specific emphasis on Namibia
Dr Maggy Beukes-Amiss, Director, Centre for Open, Distance and eLearning (CODeL), University of Namibia
Mr Erkkie Haipinge, Deputy Director: eLearning, Centre for Open, Distance and eLearning (CODeL), University of Namibia
Innovation, the “transformation of an idea into a marketable product or service, a new or improved manufacturing or distribution process, or even a new method of providing a social service” (National Research Council, 2007, p. xiii), has acquired greater value at international, regional and national levels as a means of enabling economic development and competitiveness. As an aspiring knowledge economy, Namibia values “the conversion of the new knowledge into economic and social benefits” through “the interaction between various subjects of a system that includes companies, research institutions and financiers” (Ţîţu, Răulea & Ţîţu, 2015, p. 127). This resulted in the drafting of innovation and technology enabling policies such as the National Research, Science and Technology Policy. However, some of these policies faced various implementation challenges resulting in limited progress for innovation in the country. If Namibia is to benefit from the full potential of innovative practices towards economic development even at grassroots level, then more action is required to take the existing policy landscape and small-scale innovative practices to another level with different thinking in this regard. This discussion reflects an overview of Namibia’s innovation systems by highlighting existing national legal and policy frameworks, successes and challenges involved in realisation of innovations, and discuss the opportunities offered by the interaction between indigenous knowledge and innovation initiatives. Examples of innovative practices in the higher education sector will form part of the discussion.
Keywords: innovation, innovation systems, innovation policy, indigenous knowledge