ICT Hubs Model: Understanding the Factors that make up Activspaces Model in Cameroon

By Hilda Moraa
  Published 25 Sep 2012
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Activspaces members work together to solve a problem at a 1% club event
Authors: Hilda Moraa, iHub Research ([email protected]) Kelvin Murage, iHub Research ([email protected]) Abstract iHub Research is conducting on-going research to understand the unique factors that make up ICT Hub models across Africa. The objective of the study is to understand the models of the Hubs/Labs, its entrepreneurs and the sustainable impact of these Hubs/Labs in spurring innovations that improve livelihoods. Little inquiry has been done to understand the various ICT Hub models developing all over Africa, and how such factors influence the entrepreneurs in the spaces. iHub Research aims to fill this dearth of information. This paper profiles Activspaces in Cameroon, Beau. We give an overview literature of ICT growth in Cameroon before describing the principles and factors that constitute the Hive Colab model. These factors are based on categories such as: genesis of the Hub, open innovation, partnerships, and engagements with the members among others. Key findings include factors that make them different from other Hubs e.g. the open membership system; they have 2 branches of operation as well. They also run programs that entail 3 levels: preincubation, incubation and post incubation. Despite the high level of corruption in Cameroon, and not having the government as a key stakeholder in their collaboration circle, Activspaces is able to achieve its goals by meeting the demands of their community of members. This is achieved through their active events, programs and additional funding from partnerships formed. They have also faced challenges such as poor Internet connection, attracting more members and managing the growing number but they are working towards solving these challenges through clear strategies. Lastly, we provide a list of startups that have emerged from the collaborative Activspaces model and a description of their innovations. Key words: ICT Hub, model, entrepreneurs, Innovation Hub, Cameroon.   ActivSpaces as a conduit to stimulating youth employment: Private initiatives, such as ActivSpaces, are seen as a step in the right direction of tackling Cameroon's unemployment by enabling techies and anyone interested in Information Technology to come together and share ideas that lead to new development and contribute to enhancing a sustainable growth in the ICT sector. What started as a simple concept has morphed into an iconic symbol that can best be described as the “birth house” between the ambitious nature of the Cameroon techies and the zeal to perpetuate technological advancement in the country. The Hub was set up because there was a niche for local developers to satisfy local needs/export, as the application software market was still largely unexplored. ACTIVspaces, which stands for African Center for Technology, Innovation & Ventures spaces is an open collaboration physical space, innovation hub, and technology incubator aimed at providing coaching services and development resources for start-ups and young techies in Cameroon. There was need to have this open space, due to the fact that the youth in Cameroon constitute about 10 million of the total population, summing up to around 13 million people that are employable. Less than one million are actually employed now, leaving close to 12 million jobless Cameroonians. Interesting to note is the fact that youths below the age of 30 years constitute a greater percentage of the jobless; majority are University degree and diploma holders of higher education, according to the World Bank. ActivSpaces incubates projects and helps to push them into the marketplace through intensive workshops and valuable programs that build networks and collaborations. ActivSpaces operate in two locations: one in the educational zone of Buea, and the other in the commercial capital of Douala, with a total of 24 seats for venture teams. The hub has a dual focus on social and commercial initiatives emphasizing, at its core, innovation in any sector. It is, simultaneously, a place to work, a place to meet, a place to call one’s own and interact with interesting and inspiring people. It is, above all, a vibrant community of entrepreneurs, innovators, coaches, and fellows who benefit by learning from one another. The future and development of Africa and one of its most promising emerging markets depends on a generation of forward-thinking entrepreneurs. ActivSpaces contributes to this reality by supporting the entrepreneurs that will help shape it.
Activspaces members listen to Hilda as she moderates an IP workshop
The challenge of understanding, reflecting on and embedding the technological changes and their consequences in African societies remains unsolved. However, expert knowledge systems need to be adopted to inform a new generation of Africans about technology, fostering new ideas that can be shared, shapes and incubated by active hubs such as ActivSpaces that bring innovations to the market, thus transforming the African continent from a consumer Technology to a source of ideas, concepts and products. Research Methodology: Two methods were used to understand how the Activspaces model works: a virtual interview with Activspaces Manager, Albert Banda, and a thorough literature review on Cameroon’s ICT market and Activspaces. Available secondary information on the Activspaces website was also reviewed. The data collection took a period of 2 weeks, followed by one-week analysis, design, and reporting.   Release of the Activspaces model report: iHub Research is pleased to announce the completion of the Activspaces model report.  Another 2 months were spent to conduct the second phase of the study: ‘Impact of the Activspaces model on their entrepreneurs. This involved a series of data collection, analysis, documentation and reporting. In the next coming days, iHub Research will be publishing the Activspaces entrepreneurs report. This report will draw the findings of how the factors of the hub model have impacted on the members of the space so far since its implementation. We welcome collaborations: iHub Research welcomes the collaboration of the other existing Hubs/Labs around Africa to join and be part of this study in order to generate an ecosystem of joint collaboration and learn from each other. Partnerships between ICT Hubs can play a key role in enhancing real growth and success to the entrepreneurs as they provide a conduit for the spillover of knowledge from one Hub to another. Knowledge is created and transformed into innovative activity, which enhances the competitiveness of an industry and a country’s economy to grow very fast. To read the full report on Activspaces model report visit here For more information, queries, support and collaboration in this study feel free to contact [email protected]  
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