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Food Security Initiative: Necessity is the mother of all invention

20-07-2020

Each week Maastricht School of Management (MSM) is collecting information through their educational partners and collaborators located in Africa, Asia and South America on issues caused by COVID-19 affecting sustainable local development. This week the focus is innovative ideas, products and services.

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The spread of COVID-19 is having a devastating effect on countries’ economies and their citizens’ health. However, also good may come from a crisis, such as innovate ideas, products and services. After all, necessity is the mother of all invention. The disruptions caused by Covid-19 have spurred creativity. We have seen new innovative ways of working as communities and businesses try to stay safe and to stay afloat.

Moving Online: In Indonesia, a new delivery cooperation was set up between the Ministry of Agriculture and Indonesian motorbike delivery app Gojek to provide shopping services for communities without having to leave the house with the Ministry covering the delivery costs. The successful collaboration was extended between the Ministry and various other business partners, such as retail giants, farmer’s markets and supermarkets in providing many facilities where consumers can place orders and have it delivered to their doorstep. Also, local governments have facilitated the community to order goods from the traditional/wet market via their smart city apps.

Online Learning: Closure of schools due to Covid has seen countries exploring alternatives to classroom learning, In Rwanda, the government is actively supporting Rwanda Polytechnic and its component TVET institutions to shift to the digital delivery of courses, to not only combat the current COVID-19 crisis but to prepare them for the future of education in which e-learning will take a more prominent role, ensuring relevancy and quality education and, foremost, boosting access to education.

Our SEAD project is also providing support to the development of the e-learning policy of the Rwanda Polytechnic that will cover the educational provision, delivered and/or supported and/or assessed through means which generally do not require the trainees to attend regular classes or events at particular times and particular locations. The policy includes practices such as e-learning, distance learning, blended learning, flexible learning, instructor led training and the use of web-based materials to supplement classroom-based learning.

Leapfrogging infrastructure: Drones are being deployed to overcome infrastructure challenges. In South Africa drones are used to educate people in remote communities about Covid-19. In Ghana drones are being used to deliver test samples from remote areas to the testing center’s in the city.

Unleashing new industries: In Kenya, locally made ventilator, PUMUAISHI 2.0 has also been showcased. There are plans to start mass production for local use as well as for export markets.

New business models: Tourism in Indonesia is an important component of the Indonesian economy, which due to the pandemic came to a standstill. Hotels were empty and to keep money coming in, hotels came up with the idea of offering self-isolation packages. A bag full of items that would make you feel as if you were being pampered in a hotel, but then at home.

Looking Ahead
Covid-19 responses has unleashed innovations but even more important is that they are helping to build platforms and models that can help entrench innovation. It is catalysing the emergence of collaborations and also fast forwarding the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Catalyzing Triple Helix
Perhaps the most lasting impact of the innovation zeal unleashed by the pandemic is collaborative partnerships that have emerged organically as communities and businesses have sought to find answers. For example, the Kenya invention brought together local experts from various fields, including programmers, biomedical engineers, doctors and automotive engineers from government, private sectors and the university communities.

Fast Forward 4IR 
Covid is fast forwarding the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) as ICTs are being deployed in innovative ways.  While 4IR provides many opportunities, these technologies are also creating new types of monopolies. So, it is key that the development of platform economies is locally driven platforms need to be open as much as possible. The Indonesian example shows how one should steer this. In Indonesia the driver has been the government which was also a catalyst through subsidizing the cost of delivery thus making regular shops, farmers markets and motorbikes to be part of on-line marketplace. This is key as online marketplaces tend to be owned by huge Silicon Valley technology companies e.g. Amazon, Uber which are not accountable and overtime start capturing much of the value due to the monopoly power.

Some of the companies providing these key experts are Mutsimoto Motor Company, Mobius Motors, Kenyatta National Hospital and Aga Khan University among others

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