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Towards the development of a National Innovation Fund in The Gambia

As a result of the 6-month mission under the Policy Support Facility (PSF) of the OACPS Research and Innovation (R&I) programme, two documents have been elaborated by high-level international experts to help The Gambia set up an efficient National Innovation Fund.

 

Requested by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MoHERST) of the Gambia, through its Directorate of Science, Technology & Innovation, the PSF service (July 2021- February 2022) has produced a Country Background Report (CBR) and a Policy Recommendation Report (PRR) for setting up a National Innovation Fund in The Gambia that will contribute to accelerating the country’s transition to an innovation-led and knowledge-based economy.

The Country Background Report, developed by two independent experts, provided key insights about the national R&I ecosystem, its main challenges and strengths, paving the way for the elaboration of the PRR.

This report highlighted notably the lack of basic infrastructure, low investment in R&I (the total gross expenditure on R&D –GERD- is 0.07 %, amongst the lowest in the continent, with only 31 researchers per million inhabitants -of which around 27 % are women), and weak coordination mechanisms. The report also underlined strengths and opportunities that come from recent high-level, overarching strategies and policy frameworks, and the youthful population whose R&I potential could be enhanced and boosted through appropriate training in science, technology and innovation (STI).

Based on this comprehensive analysis of the R&I system in The Gambia, inputs collected during a field phase with a wide range of R&I actors, and further fine-tuning discussions with the national team and the Policy Support Facility (PSF) Technical Assistance Unit; the panel of four international experts elaborated a Policy Recommendation Report for setting up a National Innovation Fund in The Gambia.

This report includes a step-by-step guide on how to establish the National Innovation Fund (NIF), how to mobilise resources, effectively manage it, and a series of me key policy recommendations, among others:

  • The NIF should be implemented and launched officially as soon as possible, already in 2022.
  • The Gambian government should determine an annual flexible allocation for funding the NIF, leveraged by other national and international organisations and the private sector.
  • The MoHERST should lead in initiating an ambitious national program that involves all incubators and accelerators to induce a dynamic force of innovation in partnership with stakeholders of the NIF, putting due diligence on priority and potential sectors, and impactful projects.
  • In promoting the NIF, the government should enhance information flow across all sectors, in order to spur demand-led innovation activities and further encourage collaboration among universities, the public and private sector actors, and civil society.
  • The government should increase national and international collaboration to boost the NIF.
  • It should also encourage continuous learning from other countries, such as Botswana, Mozambique, Rwanda and South Africa

The Gambia is the third country, after Lesotho and Mauritania, to benefit from the innovative PSF mechanism, launched in January 2021 by the OACPS Research and Innovation Programme, and funded by the European Union, to unlock innovation potential in the 79 OACPS member countries.

 

For learning more about the weaknesses, strengths and opportunities of The Gambia’s R&I ecosystem:

DOWNLOAD THE COUNTRY BACKGROUND REPORT

If you’d like to learn more about recommendations to set up a National Innovation Fund in order to enhance the national R&I ecosystem:

DOWNLOAD THE POLICY RECOMMENDATION REPORT