Africa Innovation Centre – An Innovation In Itself

Workforce development does not only apply to unskilled workers. Scientists, technologists, and researchers need to have the resources to develop their skills, and a platform for experimentation and collaboration in order to fulfill their career ambitions, and solve important problems for which their education trained them.

Africans with science and technology education have had limited opportunities to employ their skills towards solving Africa’s problems. Too often, highly skilled Africans have fled to the US or Europe to find circumstances conducive to experimentation in a high tech environment.

The Africa Innovation Centre, recently opened in South Africa by General Electric, brings together over 100 highly skilled Africans in a laboratory fitted out with the latest technology and a design intended to encourage collaboration. The Africa Innovation Centre provides a platform for African scientists to advance their skills while addressing pressing healthcare, transportation and other important challenges facing Africa.

The video below provides an overview of this important addition to the African portfolio of research and development facilities, and showcases how such a complex can provide a platform for workforce development targeted at many of Africa’s greatest scientific minds.

The Innovation Centre is a $50 million investment by General Electric for the development of innovation and skills.  In particular, the space was designed to provide for collaboration with African customers to address uniquely African challenges. Thomas Konditi, President & CEO Africa for GE Transportation, stresses that innovation is vital for African growth. “Africa has a unique environment to deal with,” he said. “As part of the developing world, technology doesn’t always fit with our needs. We have a lot of entrepreneurs here that are poised to help us connect the dots and come up with new solutions.”

skills development

The centre is innovative in every regard, including the construction of the building itself. The Innovation Centre is the first LEED certified building in sub-Saharan Africa.  LEED is the international, third party certified standard for excellence in environmentally friendly building construction. LEED certification recognises performance in location and planning, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, indoor environmental quality, innovative strategies, and attention to priority regional issues.