Saturday 2018-01-20

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SWAZI WOMAN DRIVING AFRICAN ENTERPRISES THROUGH SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION

By THEMBEKA DLAMINI | 2018-01-14

She initially joined the African Union (AU) as a volunteer, and on her engagement as programme assistant, came up with innovative ideas that will change the whole continents’ role in the Science, Technology and Innovation.

Nosizwe Sigwane is a passionate young woman working for the African Union under the division of Science, Technology and Innovation (AOSTI) who had to initially opt for a volunteer programme in order to apply her statistics skills because of the high unemployment rate locally.

Her awareness of the unemployment situation and the skills she gained as a Young African Leader (YALI) 2017 fellow, she decided to do something about it and tried to figure a way on how young people could bring about change in Africa in terms of the unemployment rate.

“I looked back at my own country Swaziland to figure out the means that have been implemented to reduce the unemployment rate and improve the country’s economy through Science and Technology. I figured out that we already have space to make it work through the Royal Swazi Science and Technology Park.”

From this, she came up with a concept to host a workshop titled: Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) as a driver of the Sustainability of Enterprises for Young Africans which was held in Johannesburg at the end of November.

She said the reason behind this topic was that most Africans, especially young people, failed to realise that entrepreneurship was a science; a realisation which could ensure failproof businesses.

The main objective of the workshop was to impart upon young African entrepreneurs the importance and role of science, technology and innovation as a main factor in the sustainability of any enterprise. The specific objectives were to: Identify challenges faced by the young entrepreneurs, develop a culture of using ST&I data day-to-day activities, initiate a system of mentorship among the youth for mentorship and exchange of novel ideas and initiate an AOSTI youth platform for the young entrepreneurs to share and empower one another on entrepreneurship and innovation.

She said the Director of AOSTI Dr Phillippe Mawoko was impressed with this proposal giving her a go ahead hence began preparations for the workshop including finding resource people to finding 50 appropriate delegates, of which two were from Swaziland.

She made it a point to bring in MTN Swaziland as a private entity that supports Information, Communication and Technology which represented the country and private sectors on a continental level.

She said the project would benefit the country in many ways as her office was currently planning to visit technology parks around the continent to see how they can assist from a continental level through integration, “Swaziland will be our first stop.”

The future of the project seems promising as it has reportedly attracted the interest of the European Union which was willing to share ideas and collaborate with young African entrepreneurs.

The faith driven young woman said over and above being a believer in God, she is a go getter who never backs down on whatever she believes in.

Even though her fist love is numbers, something she got from her mother who was a scientist, which drove her to major in statistics at the University of Pretoria; she says her passion is entrepreneurship, something she got from her father’s side.

Describing her job, she said she does analysis of the scientific research conducted in all 55 African countries and produces Bibliometric Outlooks where she gets to be part of teams which monitor and evaluate projects that are on-going in Africa and make recommendations on their growth and sustainability through Science and Technology. 

As such, working in such an environment has opened her eyes to a lot of gaps and opportunities for Africans.

How Swaziland will benefit

According to Sigwane, young entrepreneurs from the country will get exposure and a network will be opened which will enable collaborations and trade within Africa.

They will also be affiliated with the Innovation forums where they will have access to funding through the partnerships which the AOSTI has with private sectors.

There will be an online platform where they can register through an ambassador in the country but before a project can be registered, it will be screened by AOSTI to ensure it meets standards set.

Currently, the AOSTI is mobilising and seeking for an ambassador who will be their grounds person. The ambassador will be identified after a training to be held around April.

nominated

 “We already have Lungelo Mdluli who is a young entrepreneur in Swaziland who was part of the workshop in Johannesburg and nominated from Shiselweni but lives in Ezulwini where he runs a construction company and is the chairperson of my organisation Lihlahlandlela,” said Sigwane.

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