Growing the South African economy: The case for investing in innovation

Posted on: 08/03/2022

South Africa needs to fast track economic growth to reduce poverty and inequality.

This was a crucial message in the 2022 Budget Speech, with Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana saying that “only through sustained economic growth can South Africa create enough jobs to reduce poverty and inequality; enabling us to reach our goal of a better life for all”.

To create this economic growth, South Africa will need to embrace innovation, says Dr Nee-Joo Teh, Project Director of KTN Global Alliance Africa. KTN Global Alliance Africa is supporting economic growth in South Africa by creating interventions that are designed to strengthen and scale local innovation and business environments in South Africa. These interventions aim to build stronger UK-African and Pan-African knowledge and innovation partnerships that lead to mutual socio-economic benefits for African partner countries and the UK.

Collaborating for investment

One of the ways KTN Global Alliance Africa is supporting innovation is through strengthening the investment pipeline in South Africa. KTN Global Alliance Africa’s work includes improving the mutual understanding of needs and opportunities between investor and innovator communities through a combination of community and capacity building, upskilling innovation support and match-making activities.

An ideal way to address this is through the development of networking opportunities. When investors and innovators come together, we can bridge gaps in the understanding and expectation differences between funders and potential beneficiaries,” explains Nee-Joo.

One of the best ways to support the innovation ecosystem is through early-stage investment, which provides the boost businesses need to attract growth and expansion capital. Investors should also consider investing in women entrepreneurs, as studies have shown that women provide stronger returns on investment despite receiving less funding than their male counterparts.

While South Africa faces many economic challenges, the country’s capacity to innovate bodes well for the growth of the economy and the creation of employment. South Africa has the potential to become a global incubator for innovation, because adversity tends to breed innovation. But this innovation must be actively encouraged, and it’s essential that we invest in entrepreneurs who are driving this process,” concludes Nee-Joo.

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Global Alliance Africa

Global Alliance Africa

This Innovate UK Global Alliance Africa 6-year (2019-2025) project funded by UK International Development aims to build new and stronger UK-African partnerships to maximise the creation of inclusive market access, funding and investment opportunities through innovation knowledge transfer between the UK, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.


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