Why we must start investing more on innovation for growth


Present circumstances overwhelm our consciousness and impact the choices we make every day. However, our choices today have lasting repercussions. In theory, we know this perfectly well. Yet, with shocking regularity, we make decisions based on the mood of the moment, which turns out to misrepresent our better long-term interests.

This deep-seated culture of here and now needs to pave way for an innovation culture. Materialistic interventions to solve today’s social-economic problems will never work because the problem isn’t really a material one to begin with. One has to start at the level of ideas.

In 1998 for instance, cell phones were scarce, and the world was warming up to the internet. Today, internet, has changed almost every aspect of our lives - from the way we communicate, to how we consume news, shop, navigate and entertain ourselves.

Currently, as a result of innovation, millions of people from across the world are enjoying conveniences in digital payments; banking and insurance products, healthcare and education, among others.

Innovation is far from an exciting activity that one indulges in once in a while but a way of life. It’s a mindset of problem solving, researching, experimenting and most importantly implementing. To foster innovation, one must create room to fail, learn and re-attempt.


Significant change in the country will only be achieved through overcoming the cultural barriers that inhibit innovation.

Kenya is already making significant steps in nurturing innovation culture. As a growing economy, innovation is a major catalyst in accelerating Kenya’s development.

In today’s inter-connected world which is powered by technology, communication, big data and artificial intelligence, energy is a major component: It makes everything possible. Demand for energy in developing and emerging economies is reaching unprecedented levels owing to growing population, rapid urbanization and industrialisation.

By 2040, the world will require up to 30 percent of additional energy more than it needs today. It is important to note that as the demand increases, conventional solutions to energy supply become unsustainable due to climate change and other factors.

Given the challenges, there is need for higher levels of technological and non-technological innovation in production and supply of energy. We are entering spaces which will demand smart cities, homes, buildings, energy efficient industries, transportation infrastructure and civilian mobility. New innovation systems are therefore required for seamless delivery of energy.

At the same time, it is increasingly becoming necessary for businesses and companies to reinvent, rethink and reimagine strategies.

Strategically, Kenya was co-leading with Turkey, the conversation on Infrastructure, Cities and Local Action, at the UN Summit on Climate Change in New York, on September 23, 2019.

Countries that succeed invest a lot in hard work and continuous research to solve problems, they re-invest their gains for tomorrow. It is a nation’s attitudes, hopes and sense of what life is about that produces an economy that either flourishes or flounders. The path to reforming an economy shouldn’t hence wind through material aid, it should go through cultural assistance in creating an innovation culture.