The British Council has developed an initiative to help institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa foster and strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems.

The Innovation for African Universities program has 24 project collaborations with universities in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, with the goal of developing skills graduates will need to construct sustainable industries, businesses, and services.

“By bringing together universities from across the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa with organizations supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the region, we can facilitate an exchange of learning, ideas, knowledge, and connections to enable universities to become key champions for innovation and entrepreneurship,” Moses Anibaba OBE, regional director Sub-Saharan Africa British Council, said.

The initiative will be managed by three Center of Excellence partners – the University of Nairobi, Bayes Business School at the City University of London, and ChangeSchool – who will also enable learning exchange across the network.

According to Neil Marshall, development director at ChangeSchool, the project is a “great piece of ingenuity from the British Council.”

“Instead of them telling people in African universities what to do, [the British Council] has asked African universities what is best to do to enable higher education and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in four different countries, to work better together for the economy and the people of that country.”

Partners who participate in one of the 24 successful IAU network projects in 2021 will get up to £60,000 in financing.

Higher education institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa will strengthen peer-to-peer contacts and share best practices and expertise in order to improve students’ employability and boost economic development.

London School of Economics and George Okoye University in Nigeria, London South Bank University and the Mangosuthu University of Technology in South Africa, Imperial College London and the University of Ghana, and a number of others have formed partnerships.

“These partnerships serve diverse beneficiaries that are often not included in modern entrepreneurship empowerment programs,” said Sam Kamuriwo, Bayes Business School, City University of London.

Mary Kinoti of the University of Nairobi added the program will “create businesses and employment opportunity among the youth in Africa”.

Many young Africans, according to the program’s creators, lack the chances, training, and support they need to develop their business and entrepreneurial ideas. They stated that by 2050, the young population in Sub-Saharan Africa will have doubled to approximately 830 million.

“The IAU program offers a great opportunity for universities in Sub-Saharan Africa to spur innovation and entrepreneurship culture and mindset among the academia and students,” Kinoti said.

“At the British Council we recognize the key role universities can play in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa, helping enable African youth to become the job creators of tomorrow and drivers of economic development in the continent,” Anibaba added.

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