Tribune African entrepreneur could ride the wave of frugal innovation

In a context marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, African entrepreneurs, faced with energy, infrastructural (interconnection, connectivity, regional mobility), financial, military (terrorism in the Sahel, ethnic wars), agricultural, digital issues … and renewed protectionist impulses can draw a number of lessons. The first could relate to frugal innovation.


By Alioune Guèye*


But what is frugal innovation? To put it simply, I would say it is “doing better with less”. In Africa, resources can be limited, especially when it comes to innovation while R&D can be expensive. However, the current global environment dictates that operators produce quality productions that are accessible to all. To do this, you have to go to the essentials and avoid the superfluous. It is nothing more than the royal road to frugal innovation. In our continent, creativity and resourcefulness are everywhere. To revolutionize the business world there would involve the famous “Less is more”, insofar as the scarcity of resources coupled with the need can be a source of emancipation.


“It is up to decision-makers from all sides to work together with economic operators to mobilize this ingenious capacity”


It is up to decision-makers from all sides to work together with economic operators to mobilize this ingenious capacity and produce simple solutions that meet international standards of quality, respect for the environment, non-carbon…

Hopefully, Covid-19 has prompted the African Entrepreneur to embrace this mindset that can be made into a model of economic development. A universal model, moreover, which results in products and services accessible to as many people as possible. It could create this virtuous circle which would promote the availability of new high-performance technological consumption tools and products which would in turn fuel innovation.

It will not be a question of reinventing the wheel, but very often starting from the existing one (2G which has a greater coverage than 5G …), moving from linear economy to circular economy, shaping customer behavior as a consumer, involve employees – no need to offer stock options – in the company’s strategic thinking.

*Alioune Guèye, CEO HUB AFRICA & Groupe Afrique Challenge

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