Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS), launched in May 2011, inspires innovations in the Southern African region. Finland is funding the Programme by 6.2 million Euros.
The Southern Africa Innovation Programme aims to enhance national and regional systems of innovation and to develop a strategy for regional innovation cooperation. Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia are taking part of the Programme as pilot countries and the idea is to share learning experiences and provide capability for possible replication of models later in other SADC countries.
The Programme was launched in Namibia Windhoek where pilot countries, stakeholders and the local media were present. The Finnish Ambassador to South Africa, Namibia and Botswana Mrs. Tiina Myllyntausta gave a speech and highlighted the important role of science, technology and innovation in the development cooperation. It is widely recognized that systematic strategic and operational innovation support is an integral ingredient in economic growth and poverty alleviation aspirations.
The idea for the Programme developed from the Southern African Development Community’s member states’ (SADC) need to enhance their systems of innovation and to create mutual benefits by regional cooperation. Besides a regional strategy on innovation cooperation, the purpose is to develop clear plans for institutional arrangements. The permanent structure will then be able to sustain and support further development of innovation systems through co‐ordination, dissemination, capacity building and funding.
Finland and South Africa carried out a partnership programme on innovation called COFISA in 2006–2010. The experiences of this programme demonstrate a need for strengthening innovation system both at the national and regional levels.