By David Makhura
I congratulate Dr McLean Sibanda for committing his experiencesto a book and for sharing his ‘musings’ and reflectionswith the global and continental readership. I also welcome the amazing feedback from corporate executives, innovators and digital entrepreneurs who were part of McLean’s journey.
NUTS & BOLTS: Strengthening Africa’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems, comes at the right time. Theworld is undergoing profound changes as a result of rapid technological change, an unprecedented rate of urbanisation,the existential threats of climate change, deadly pandemics,increasing levels of inequalities and rising social tensions.
Africa must chart its pathway from poverty to prosperitythrough structural transformation in the context of all the changes that are influencing the future of our planet and its people. From a positive perspective, we are a youthful continen twith a vibrant entrepreneurial culture and a dynamic Small,Medium and Macro Enterprise (SMME) sector. However, weneed to harness new technologies to build resilient innovation ecosystems and leapfrog African entrepreneurs to a sustainable and prosperous level.
NUTS & BOLTS is an eloquent and reflective personal account of McLean’s work at The Innovation Hub (TIH) ofthe Gauteng City-Region and his intimate involvement in thecontinental innovation forums. I cannot think of a better person to tell Gauteng’s innovation story as eloquently as McLean has. He is the perfect
practitioner’s voice on how Africans can harness the digital revolution to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the formal and informal sector of the economy.
As the 6th Premier of Gauteng, I had the opportunity towork with Dr Sibanda in the period between 2014 and 2018.TIH is of great interest to me due to its location in the knowledgeand digital economy and I visited the institution more thanonce to check on progress. I would like to confess that I put
tremendous pressure on MEC Lebogang Maile and Dr Sibanda to deliver concrete results on the integration of the township economy and township entrepreneurs into the emerging digitaleconomy. I have become very impatient with a government bureaucracy that delivers very little, or takes too long to get things done. I am happy to say that Dr Sibanda handled all the pressure with a great deal of professionalism. He combined competence, foresight and firmness with integrity, punctuality and dependability in delivering results.
Above all, his tenure at the helm of TIH brought ground breaking biotechnology, renewable energy and innovation initiatives. He competently answered the Gauteng’s Fifth Administration’s call to take the Fourth Industrial Revolutionto the townships on the periphery of our economy and bring black, women and youth into the digital economy in the mostinnovative way, in support of the principal policy agenda of Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation and Township Economy Revitalisation.
NUTS &BOLTS catalogues many initiatives that helped black women and youth to build enterprises in the digital economy. The book is a prolific chronicle of Gauteng’s efforts in building an ecosystem that fostered public and private sector partnership in the creation of a new generation of innovators, digital entrepreneurs and tech-preneurs in South Africa.
I would like to assure all those who put sweat into TIH– McLean Sibanda, business leaders, digital entrepreneurs, government officials and colleagues, including former Premiers and MECs – that the current leadership of Gauteng and Board of TIH will continue to chase the dream of building TIH into‘ Africa’s Silicon Valley’. Africa must harness the opportunities and potential presented by urbanisation, new technologies, innovation and entrepreneurship to change its fortunes by building sustainable livelihoods and prosperity for its people. Our continent cannotbe left behind. Gauteng is ready and able to take a lead in this endeavour.
On this basis, I encourage African entrepreneurs, policy makers, Innovators, incubators, climate change activists and managers of science parks and corporate executives responsible for innovation, academics and students of technological innovation and entrepreneurship, to read this valuable book.
I commend the book to the reader.
.This is a foreword by David Makhura, the Premier of Gauteng to the newly published book Nuts & Bolts: Strengthening Africa’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem sby McLean Sibanda. Published by Tracey McDonald Publishers. Available online and from all good bookstores. Recommended Retail Price: R310.00