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This piece is the first of our series of reflective reports from the African Inclusive Innovation Summit 2019 (AIIS) on the future of work. Don’t miss the next one: subscribe to wearerestless at the bottom of this page.

“Innovation builds innovation” Martin Ndlovu. 

These words captured my attention during the MIT African Inclusive Innovation Summit (AIIS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Surely these words speak volumes. Innovation can and should build on things that have already been done. They don’t have to be revolutionary. The kind of ideas small businesses and start-ups should want to generate are all about creating new value for customers. The best innovators learn how to combine existing materials a little differently or transfer concepts from other industries.

There is a need for Africa to invest in building inclusive innovations that leave no one behind in order for us to achieve Agenda 2063.

Mambepa Nakazwe (author) at the African Union Innovation Summit in Addis Ababa

During the summit, I had an opportunity to meet with H.E Sarah Mbi Enow, head of human resources, science and technology at the African Union commission. Her passion, charisma, and determination for pan-Africanism amazed me. She believes that young people should be built with necessary competence skills to be able to play major roles in the global arena. The future of work is Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). That is why quality education is very important. Sarah told me that she hopes to see young women like myself becoming better than her and tap into her expertise. I agree.

It was such a huge honour being engaged as a panelist on a side event entitled ‘Skills, Development and Opportunity Matching. During the panel we analysed the problems in skilling and preparing young people for the future of work. The problem is, at present, that education was designed for the last industrial revolution and not the current one. The jobs of tomorrow will require some competence in the STEM fields.  For example before jobs like program manager didn’t require one to have basic computer skills but now a program manager requires a breath-taking fluency degree in Computer skills. We need to design a new education curriculum incorporating digital literacy and using digital tools for learning, communication and collaboration; and critical thinking and problem solving which focuses on improving student self-directed thinking and learning to produce new and innovative ideas. 

Furthermore to produce prepared, highly skilled and motivated workers, it requires school reforms based on a vision of multiple pathways to a meaningful career. Moreover, employers need to be fully engaged partners and opportunities for work need to be embedded within learning.

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Mambepa Nakazwe

Mambepa Nakazwe

Mambepa Nakazwe is the Founder of Seeds of Change foundation in Zambia. An organization that is committed to raise awareness, mentorship, scholarship and educational programmes in schools in Zambia with the aim of breaking cultural gender stereotypes towards careers in STEM fields and informing girls about the opportunities a STEM career can offer. She is also a member of the MasterCard foundation youth think tank, a project implemented by restless development Uganda and is leading research on youth livelihoods. Furthermore she works with other youth think tank researchers as a Technical Assistant in developing and adapting tools and guidelines that support development stakeholders improve and increase engagement with young people in their programs. She’s also an alumni of the young African leader’s initiative regional leadership Centre (YALI RLC SA). An initiative by former US president Barack Obama. Currently Mambepa is a final year Education student Majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science.

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