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In a rapidly changing world, the need to continuously explore dynamic solutions to effectively achieve development cannot be over emphasized. Accordingly, UNDP and UNFPA in Zambia, in collaboration with the National Technology Business Center (NTBC) and the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority have embarked on a joint implementation of the National Innovations Initiative (NII).

The overall objective of the initiative is to identify innovations, particularly harnessed from marginalised populations including youth, women and people with disabilities, which have the highest potential and prospective impact for solving societal developmental challenges. The identified innovations will be provided with technical and business development support as well as financial resources for their implementation and scaling up to increase their resilience in a competitive business environment.

Through the UNDP Accelerator Lab, the the first ever National Innovation Initiative (NII) was implemented in 2020. Based on the 2020 implementation process, the 2021 NII envisions to scale-up in its geographical focus to include all the 10 Provinces of Zambia, with a streamlined thematic area focused on identified key developmental priorities that will contribute to the country as it transitions into the 8th National Development Plan. Additionally, this year’s focus will also aim to increase participation from the marginalized population by providing access to information and capacity for them to participate in the highly competitive Innovation Fair. This is an affirmative step to ensure inclusion and advance the Leaving No One Behind (LNOB) agenda.

The NII will work with various partners to scout for the initial innovations from all the Provinces of Zambia targeting to shortlist and showcase 50 innovations with 50% being women, youth and other marginalized in the provinces. 20 promising and scalable innovations will then be selected to participate in the Acceleration and Business Programme.

It is envisioned that the final innovations will be instrumental in responding to some of the most pressing development challenges in Zambia and accelerate the overall advancement of the sustainable development goals.