MESTI Chief Director, Mrs. Cynthia Asare Bediako and the Special Advisor to the Minister, Mr. Oliver Boakye hosted a five-member delegation from the UNDP Delegation in Accra today, Friday 19th August 2022.
Deliberations centered on the Timbuktoo Initiative under the auspices of the UNDP which focuses on supporting and growing ideas that are impactful and scalable as well as, viable projects by young African entrepreneurs from selected countries including Ghana. This will be done in collaboration with MESTI and other Agencies.
Following brief welcome remarks by the Chief Director to open the discussions, leader of the UNDP delegation, Dr. Edward Ampratwum,Head of Innovation and Accountable Governance at the UNDP indicated that the purpose of the meeting was to formally introduce the Timbuktoo Initiative to the Ministry and to learn how the Ministry could help achieve the purpose of the initiative to impact positively on the Ghanaian youth entrepreneurs.
Dr. Ampratwum observed that whilst there are often calls on the ever-growing African youth population to become innovative and create jobs, access to capital has always remained a lingering problem. He mentioned that there was about 32 percent youth unemployment in the country with the worst cases being in the Northern parts. He however recalled that based on outcomes from previous collaborations between the UNDP and the Government of Ghana through MESTI on similar youth support programmes, the Timbuktoo Initiative will help improve the situation.
The Ecosystems Specialist at the UNDP, Madam Astria Fataki in her remarks revealed that the Initiative comprises a venture capital fund, a venture build-up programme for eight  countries and a partnerships component as well to provide financial support and offer technical assistance to young African entrepreneurs. She disclosed some 13 countries had already been visited to assess readiness and acceptability for the take-off and that, the initiative will cover thematic areas such as energy, agritech, tourism, health, the creative and e-commerce noting that, agritech seems prominent in Ghana’s case per interactions so far.
According to Fataki, only three (3) percent of capital comes from outside the continent to support entrepreneurial ventures but unfortunately, this comes with limitations regarding the alignment of type of businesses and the amounts available. She expressed hope that through sustained deliberations between her outfit and MESTI, some policies and programmes will fall in line with the Initiative so as to benefit the Ghanaian youth.
Mrs. Bediako responded that the Ministry was highly interested in the Initiative and appreciated such inter-sectoral collaborations as important to speed up development efforts.
Special Advisor to the Minister Mr. Oliver Boakye, mentioned that thr Ministry will ensure the right policies are in place for the functioning of innovation in the ecosystem, ensure intellectual property management rights in the sector and market access.
Mr. Boakye stated further that, the Ministry had the priority of providing infrastructure nationwide for innovator to pilot their innovations and also receive advice and support from specialists and noted that such interventions like the Timbuktoo Initiative was a timely one. He said the Ministry has eight (8) strategic technical areas of interest including agric and agro processing, environment and waste management, manufacturing citing the Foundry and Machine Tooling centre, ICT, renewable energy, health and pharmaceuticals, mining and mineral processing and lastly, oil and gas.
He said Ghana has since last year declared the period 2022 to 2032 as the Decade of Innovation where “analyses are being made to understand where we are in the innovation ecosystem, assessing the gaps and where we want to be in the next decade”.