UNDP Accelerator Lab Uganda launched

UNDP Uganda
Nov 22, 2019 · 5 min read

The UNDP Accelerator Lab Uganda worth USD $2,100,000 (about Shs 8 billion) will be implemented over a period of three years and is part of the 60 accelerator labs globally

Panelists discuss “21st Century Challenges: How can we harness innovation?” during the launch of the UNDP Accelerator Lab Uganda

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Accelerator Lab Uganda has been launched bringing forth innovative approaches to solve complex development challenges. The launch took place on Thursday November 21, 2019 in Kampala Uganda and was attended by government officials, development partners, heads of United Nations agencies, the innovation community, researchers, media and entrepreneurs.

The UNDP Accelerator Lab Uganda is part of the global UNDP efforts to generate innovative ways of dealing with development challenges and provide options to governments and other development partners. The UNDP Accelerator Lab initiative is designed for implementation in sixty countries globally including Uganda. The labs offer a ‘safe’ space where partners can explore unconventional and radical ideas to inspire change and create new opportunities.

The UNDP Accelerator Lab Uganda worth USD $2,100,000 (about Shs 8 billion) will be implemented over a period of three years. A total of USD $140 million (about Shs 532 billion) has been mobilised to support the 60 accelerator labs globally. This initiative is supported by two core investors; the Federal Republic of Germany, through the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the State of Qatar through the Qatar Fund for Development.

Hon. Mary Karooro Okurut during the launch of the UNDP Accelerator Lab Uganda

The Prime Minister of Uganda Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda welcomed the UNDP Accelerator Lab Uganda and thanked UNDP for promoting innovation through the lab initiative.

“Promoting innovation and creativity is essential to accelerate important development outcomes such as enhancing value addition in key growth opportunities, strengthening private sector capacity to drive growth and create jobs, increasing the stock and quality of productive infrastructure, increasing productivity, inclusiveness and wellbeing of the population,” Rugunda said in a speech read for him by Hon. Mary Karooro-Okurut, Minister for General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister and SDG Coordinator.

Rugunda underscored the importance of innovations in advancing the development agenda, “We all know how technological research and innovations by the youth have played a powerful role in driving development in many nations such as China, Norway, India, South Africa, Nigeria and many more.” He commended the UNDP Accelerator Lab for “engaging with government to continue instilling a culture of innovation and enterprise in the way we manage development.”

Supporting youth innovations

On his part, Dr. Maxime Houinato, the Acting UN Resident Coordinator, called for more support for youth innovations;

“Youth can deliver solutions to the issues which lie at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We need to deliberately equip our youth with skills that will enable them to innovate, and the youth who are already innovating should be given platform to test, nurture and grow their innovations. Together, with the young people, we can create the future we want in the best interest of the people, the planet and prosperity.”

He also commended the private sector for their contribution to achieving SDGs. “In addition to the Government efforts, I am glad that Uganda’s private sector is demonstrating strong commitment for SDGs. We do hold their contribution in high regard. For instance, their participation in the national SDGs taskforce has enabled concrete actions to be reflected in the national SDGs Roadmap,” Dr. Maxime who also doubles as the UN Women Country Representative, said.

UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Elsie G. Attafuah

Ms. Elsie Attafuah, the UNDP Uganda Resident Representative, said the lab’s innovative approach will contribute to Uganda’s efforts to achieve sustainable development goals. “What we need to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals are innovative solutions and systemic changes to respond to the complex development challenges. This is why we are here today to witness the launch of the UNDP Accelerator Lab for Uganda,” she said. Ms. Elsie Attafuah added that, the lab, an initiative championed by Mr. Achim Steiner the UNDP Administrator will reinforce locally sourced solutions to persistent development challenges, and mobilize partnerships of actors who will contribute knowledge, resources, and experience.

The Ambassador of Germany to Uganda HE Albrecht Conze

Reversing deforestation

On his part, the German Ambassador to Uganda Albrecht Conze proposed that the Accelerator Lab focuses on sustainable development goals which are at the risk of not being achieved. The first strategic focus of the Accelerator Lab is to reverse the rapid deforestation in Uganda by exploring innovative solutions to tackle the leading drivers of deforestation. The lab will in future venture into issues such as youth unemployment and climate change.

In its design and execution, the Accelerator Lab works closely with governments, the innovation community, the media, think tanks, academia, NGOs, entrepreneurs, the private sector, academia and researchers, and will connect them with governments and development actors.

Mr. Edgar Kasenene gave an inspirational talk on “The innovation landscape” during the launch

This initiative builds on UNDP’s presence and work in over 170 countries and is part of the institution’s approach to connecting knowledge and solutions. The labs will offer support in four dimensions; improving the enabling environment (e.g better policy and regulatory space for innovation), improving access to funding for development solutions, developing skills (innovation methods and learning behaviours) and growing a network of partners.

In Uganda, the lab builds on several UNDP pilot initiatives in support of the national development agenda. In 2018, UNDP Uganda supported the establishment of the Uganda Green Growth Incubation Programme — Songhai, an integrated approach that empowers youth, women and communities to sustainably harness natural resources for improved livelihoods through agriculture.

In 2018, the Uganda Graduate Volunteer Youth Scheme was established to equip young graduates from universities and vocational institutions with employable skills through workplace placements.

Earlier on in 2016, UNDP introduced the Gender Equality Seal (GES) certification programme for private enterprises in partnership with the Private Sector Foundation Uganda. The GES establishes standards that link gender equality at workplace with development results. Over 40 private enterprises in Uganda have committed to promoting gender equality under this arrangement.

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