Zanzibar launches ‘blue economy innovation challenge’

IN ongoing efforts to promote innovations among young people, Zanzibar has launched the ‘Blue Economy Innovation Challenge (BEIC), targeting innovative businesses.

According to Dr Said Khamis from ‘Cube Institution in Zanzibar, under this first BEIC, eligible businesses must first meet the basic criteria such as using innovation to address existing gap; business being beyond idea stage; piloted in Zanzibar and ready for scaling; demonstrate technical and financial viability in the long run; and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNDP, and UNICEF through the ‘Waste X Lab project’ in collaboration with the government through its Ministry of Blue Economy and Fisheries; State University of Zanzibar (SUZA), Zanzibar Micro, Small and Medium Industrial Development Agency (SMIDA) and the Karume Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) jointly launched the challenge project at the SUZA grounds, Tunguu.

With an amount of up to 10,000 US dollars to be awarded to the winners, the government in collaboration with partners invites an innovation challenge approach to map existing solutions in the solid waste innovation ecosystem and serve as a ladder for further innovations.

Dr Khamis said the approach is congruent with the government of Zanzibar Vision 2050, which highlights the importance of boosting innovation and climate resilience planning.

On his part SMIDA Director Mr Soud Said Ali explained further that the Ministry of Blue Economy in Zanzibar has highlighted the priority of institutional capacity building for waste management and combating land-based sources of marine pollution, marine litter, and micro plastics, as one of its main priorities.

The ‘challenge project’ targets recycling and upcycling businesses that employ technologies in mechanical engineering, digital technology (Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain/Augmented Reality) and mobile apps, with a special focus on youth and women entrepreneurs together with start-ups.

“Innovative entrepreneurs are required to submit their innovative businesses that have either emerged or proved more relevant to waste management,” he said in his speech adding

Eligible businesses will also take part in one week-long investor readiness programme and be part of a pipeline for future potential support by UNDP and other development partners.

They will also be availed with a chance to win a cash award of up to 5,000 US dollars for the first winner, 3000 US dollars for the second winner and 2000 US dollars for the third winner to invest in the winning business.

SUZA Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mohamed Makame Haji said solid waste management is a cross-cutting issue.

“The success of this initiative clearly demonstrates that we have responded to the President Hussein Mwinyi’s directive, to recycle solid waste and also produce commodities out of it, a move to create jobs, while keeping the environment clean,” he said.

Mr Peter Nyanda, Team Lead, Accelerator Labs, UNDP Tanzania had this to share, “Circular economy and blue economy are two sides of the same coin, and thus embedding technology in waste management will indeed help to accelerate efforts towards reducing land-based sources of marine litter and microplastics, and eventually improve life under waste and the marine biodiversity at large.”

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