Tanzania Policy Roundtable | Promoting and Enabling Innovation Spaces

Tanzania Policy Roundtable | Promoting and Enabling Innovation Spaces

The Tanzania Innovation ecosystem has been growing day by day and it has been inclusive with the involvement of diverse stakeholders not limited to; policy makers, innovation spaces and startups. With the growth of the innovation ecosystem in Tanzania there is a need to create an enabling environment for the startups and innovation spaces through policies that are available in the Country. The policies will help innovation spaces and startups during the implementation of their work that will have a direct positive impact in the society as well as the economic growth.

In line with the above highlights, Buni Hub organized a policy round table on 11th May 2023. The round table involved all the potential policy makers in Tanzania from; Tanzania Information and Communication Technologies Commission; Tanzania Business Registration and Licensing Agency, Tanzania Startup Association; National Economic Empowerment Council; Global Standards (GS1); Tanzania Communication Regulatory; Tanzania Industrial Research and Development; and Tanzania Trade Development.  The policy roundtable also considered Europe perspective and we had Ms. Sofi Laasko from the icebreaker.vc in Finland. 

The policy round table kicked off by the welcoming remarks from the Director General, Tanzania Commission for Science and technology Dr. Amos Nungu and he shared that COSTECH has been in forefront to coordinate and support innovation in Tanzania through fund support, capacity building, linkages, Intellectual Property rights, contributed to the policies and provide  recommendation  but also, COSTECH is working closely with development partners, private companies and others to assure conducive environment for the innovation ecosystem in all the key areas include policies.

Marilena Maragkou, Co-founder of Youthmakers Hub was next to share about the AfriConEU and she highlighted all the work that has been implemented by the Consortium from all the 11 Consortium members. She also encourages the participants to visit our portal to access all the knowledge materials that are available and been done by the Consortium and also to understand in detail what AfriconEu has been up to for Africa and the Europe ecosystem. 

After Ms. Marilena Concluded, the participants were able to hear a Europe perspective on innovation policies and available opportunities in Europe. The EU is more open for developing countries and it offers more business opportunities also strengthening economic cooperation and promoting sustainable development. European countries have conducive policies that made it easier for outside entrepreneurs to enter the market. Further, Ms Sofi shared that Embassies if anyone would like to access further information on how to untap Europe Market, Embassies are there to provide support and share more information.

After the useful information from the 3 speakers, we kicked off the session and all the local policy makers were given a chance to share their existing policies within institutions. All the policies overviews shared by all the institutions resulted to the following policies changes needed in Tanzania that will enable execution with the Tanzania innovation ecosystem; 

Supportive Regulatory Environment: there should be a regulatory framework that encourages innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment. This includes streamlining bureaucratic processes, reducing red tape, and creating clear and favorable policies for startups and innovative businesses; Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Protection: strengthen and enforce intellectual property laws to safeguard the rights of innovators and creators. Providing a robust IPR system will encourage local inventors to develop new technologies and protect their ideas from infringement: Access to Funding policies that promote access to various sources of funding for startups and innovators. This includes venture capital funds, angel investors, government grants, and loans tailored for innovation-driven businesses. Initiatives like establishing an innovation fund or supporting innovation-focused financial institutions can be considered.

Education and Skills Development system to incorporate entrepreneurship and innovation into the curriculum at all levels. Foster collaboration between academia and industry to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. Encourage lifelong learning programs and skill development initiatives that are relevant to emerging technologies and innovation; Research and Development (R&D) Investment: Increase public and private sector investment in R&D. Encourage collaboration between universities, research institutions, and industry to drive innovation. Provide incentives for companies to invest in R&D activities, such as tax breaks, grants, and research partnerships: Digital Infrastructure: quality and accessibility of digital infrastructure should be improved in Tanzania, including reliable internet connectivity, affordable data plans, and widespread access to technology devices. This will facilitate the growth of digital startups and enable the adoption of emerging technologies: Government Procurement there should be policies that promote procurement from local startups and innovative businesses. Set aside a percentage of government contracts for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups, encouraging their participation in public sector projects and creating a market for their products and services: International Collaboration: partnerships and collaboration between Tanzanian innovators, startups, and international organizations, including technology hubs, innovation centers, and universities. This will facilitate knowledge exchange, access to global markets, and opportunities for investment and growth.

After the intense discussion with all the policy makers during the roundtable there were police recommendations identified that included; Harmonization of all policies in the industry to foster startup growth, DIH and innovation ecosystem and operations of regulatory bodies to work better for startup growth, DIH and innovation ecosystem. Tanzania policies should create an enabling environment for digitization of the economy through innovations, R&D, science and Technology. The utilization of existing opportunities offered by partners in Tanzania should be promoted; such opportunities are Registration of IPs, R&D funding, Communication Resources such as those available in Regulatory Sandbox. The Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology should consider advising the Government of Tanzania about policy reviews and enact new policies on specific policy recommendations provided by actors/partners present during the AfriConEU Policy Roundtable.

Dr. Gerald Kafuku who is the director for the Center of Development and Technology Transfer at COSTECH, closing with the following thoughts; Digital transformation should be a priority and   we will consider promoting the manufacturing of devices. It is important and we will work on reviewing and improving existing policies to fix pre existing challenges in Tanzania’s innovation ecosystem and policies should be flexible for application and adaptation that resulted in a better policy system.