Innovation: Catalyst to growth
Innovation in its wider sense is a process of creating something that could have an impact in improving the livelihood of a society. Innovation can be viewed as an application of better solution to human needs and requirements; that could be in the form of products, services and better solution for existing challenges.
Innovations could be developed by less formal and on-the-job modifications of practice, through exchange and combination of professional experience and by many other means. They could also develop through practice, in other words through hard work and trial and error until the right direction is found.
Every year in different events such as at the National Festival and Youth Festival, it has been very common to observe young Eritrean innovators displaying their products to the public. These innovations vary from each other and are based on the basic needs of the society. This year, at the Eritrea Festival 2015, a variety of innovative products are on display. And almost all are meant to solve and modernize our society’s daily needs.
Fethi Yared is a 12-year old boy from Debaruwa, Southern Region. Once he went to Massawa to visit relatives. He had been perplexed to see the residents of Massawa, living at a stone throw away from the sea, fetching water from far off places. He says the question that came to his mind before working on his plant was: “How come people living on the shore of the sea fetch water from far away?”
After contemplating about that for some time, he decided to do something: build a simple but effective desalination plant that could alleviate the problem and ensure the availability of water for the residents from close proximities to their dwellings. And that future plant is at the Expo compound in its small size – but bound to be enlarged with the availability of materials, funding and with additional research and trial.
Mearig Fesehaie is another innovator of 17 years of age. He came with an idea of creating a cooling system using batteries. In his own words: “Ventilations that we know are working with electricity power. In case of power interruption people working in factories and living in hot areas would have difficulties to endure the heat from the sun or inside the factories. This ventilation, I thought, would solve the problem.”
Mearig is currently employed as a part-timer at the Plastic Factory in Debaruwa and he is confident that he will develop his innovation by consulting the management of the factory and securing funding and other resources.
Yemane Gebrehiwot has also a big idea of building fiberglass fishing boats. He says “So far we have been obliged to import fishing boats. The boats are very expensive and they need substantial hard currency to buy them. But with importing some chemicals with lesser expense we could make the fiber here and eventually build boats with our internal capacity. We have the capacity and what we need is only the material and that material could be made here and hence save hard currency.”
All the innovating works that are displayed at the Expo Grounds might seem small and even imaginary. But in a sense they hold a big message and promising prospect of the young innovators.
An Economist by the name Joseph Schumpeter once said that “Industries must incessantly revolutionize the economic structure from within, that is innovate with better or more effective process and products, such as the connection from the craft shop to factory.” These young Eritrean innovators are just doing that. They are aspiring to connect their primary innovations that will eventually move from their “craft shops” to factories.
With the immense intellect and wits our youngsters are graced with, an organization to encourage and provide them guidance and assistance in changing their ideas into tangible performances, prevails to be a crucial one, and worth of our attention.
With regards to this Mr. Abraham Zerizghi, one of the coordinators of the innovation pavilion says: “We have now brought to the public such innovative displays for quite some time. And every year we are witnessing improvements in both quantity and quality of the products. Numerous youngsters from different places of the country are being inspired by the yearly exhibitions and are coming with new and improved products.”
“It is true that these youth need assistance and the society and the concerned government institutions should shoulder the responsibility so that these youth develop their products in a way the society makes use of them instead of observing every year the initiatives only and not the practical products. To this end, there are some steps that are thought to be taken. And it is my sincere hope that we could see their implementation in the near future.”
Observation is the basis for innovation. Many of these young renovators explained that their ideas are based on observations of the society’s daily lifestyle. They have all personal records motivating them to create and innovate. And the objective is to find solutions.
So far the beginning steps of our young innovators are promising. Their initiative is encouraging. We would definitely want them contributing to the development of our country in ways we are most certain will be glorious.