We always hear people say that the world is changing, but we rarely see their ideas change along with it: we are so accustomed to believe that innovation happens exclusively by breakthrough that if we don’t see something disruptive, we don’t see the change at all. We talk about it like it’s about to happen and we fail to notice that it’s already happening.
This kind of thinking is also the reason why for decades it was believed that the only way to help less developed countries was show them the Western path of industrialisation and wait for them to catch up. It was also thought that, both in the industrialised and developing economies, the Governments were not meant to intervene in the market dynamics, because the economic forces of competition, supply, and demand would sort themselves out and automatically bring the system to the maximum possible level of welfare.
The Economic Crisis of 2008, however, made unequivocally clear that technological and productive system must change because the traditional approach to innovation and development fails to consider a wide range of real world dynamics. First of all, innovation is rarely disruptive: it rather incremental. Second, the Western industrialisation model is specific to Western countries in a certain phase of Western history, and might bring different results, or even fail, in different historical, cultural and environmental conditions. Finally, in reality the free market doesn’t work quite as smoothly as the Neoliberal Economists thought and the inherent market failures distort competition, diffusion of knowledge and distribution of welfare, driving the system way off the optimum.
The New Course and its funding
What has been done until now to sustain international development is invaluable, however, it is now widely accepted by the international community that the approach must evolve, in a sustainable and inclusive way, that integrates the interventions of public and private sectors and pursues long term endogenous economic growth and environmental sustainability. Along with the new principles, new financial instruments have been developed.
The World Bank recently launched a program called Competitive Industries and Innovation Program, aimed at financing country initiatives for innovation and competitiveness of the private sector, involving not only clean technologies and environmentally sustainable development, but also the establishment of a new growth paradigm that would allow the country to sustain itself economically and socially. Similarly, starting from 2009 the European Union realigned the policies for cooperation and development and support of the European competitiveness with the principles of environmental sustainability and cross-sectorial integration. It also created new instruments for funding international development, such as the delegated cooperation, that allows a more efficient allocation of the resources. A third and more traditional way to fund the projects are the calls for proposals and tenders from EuropeAid, that also nominated 2015 the European Year for Development, dedicating each month to a specific issue, and the other Multilateral Funds. Finally, the Concerned Governmental Institutions from the beneficiary countries, primarily the Ministers of Finances and Economic Developments, are also entitled to negotiate funding with any of these entities.
This new approach to development aligns entirely with the work that ARTES has been doing for the last two decades, and plans to keep on doing in the future. In fact In the framework of the action A4I – Artes for Internationalisation, ARTES is developing a programme for the internationalisation of Italian and European excellence know-how in the fields of constructions, materials, water, energy, agroindustry and, more in general, in the field of bio economy. With the support of the new financial instruments and the policies that international organisation such as the EU are shaping, ARTES intends to bring a substantial contribution to the reconstruction and endogenous growth of fragile areas.
Most of the work is currently taking place in two areas: Tunisia and the East African Community (EAC, which includes Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania and Republic of Uganda). In Tunisia, ARTES already teamed up with the local actors for the project Nzymes4future, that aims at the creation of research-driven cluster start-up in the field of biotechnologies and eco design, and Alliance, concerning the development of enterprises and job creation in the rural areas. The framework of these projects is also potentially transferable to Kenya. Besides possible transferring the existing projects, in the EAC ARTES together with DICAM – University of Bologna have established a partnership with Local Govenmental and Private Institutions to create a research center for civil constructions and materials, and possibly water and energy, as well as a school for the professionals of the energy field.
Concerning this second area, ARTES and its partners have just left for a study visit in order to define new partnerships with the local actors and draft a plan for the creation the research center, on the blue print of the one of the University of Bologna. Based in the area of Bujumbura, in Burundi, the center would be serving the whole EAC. The Italian delegation is composed by the representatives of a large international network of universities and enterprises specialised in the following fields: materials and construction technologies, energy, water, agro- industry and community regeneration and citizens’ awareness raising. Namely: ARTES itself, the Omnia Energia Group, and the relevant departments of the universities of Bologna, Naples and Florence.
The study visit, called “Unlocking the potential of fragile regions, achieving long term sustainable and endogenous development ”, will take place between Bujumbura and Nairobi, from the 23rd to the 27th February 2015. For us, the term fragility combines strengths and weaknesses: it doesn’t refer only to the fragility entailed by extreme economic poverty, civil wars or natural catastrophes (which is the definition of the OECD), but also includes the uniqueness of a region, and its invaluable human and natural patrimony.
The Italian delegation will meet with local authorities and Italian diplomats, but the highlight of the mission is the “Exchange workshop for the establishment of a research center for technology and building materials for civil engineering”. The main objectives of the workshop are to present the needs and opportunities for research in the world of Burundian business, to introduce the Italian delegation with its know-how to their Burundian counterparts and exchange experiences with them, and, finally, to strengthen existing cooperation and consider new joint working tracks for development research.
In the coming days we will keep a journal of the visit and the outcomes of the meetings, scheduled as follow.
Arrival of the Italian delegation in Bujumbura.
Exchange seminar workshop on the establishment of a Research Center on Technology and Civil Engineering Building Materials – CRTM – Civil Engineering. Among the speakers: the General Manager of Facilities Coordination of Burundi, the Head of the Chamber of Commerce of the EAC, the head of the Italian delegation and founder of ARTES, the Burundian Minister of Transport, Public Works and Infrastructure, and members of the Italian and African universities and network of partners. This workshop is realised with the financial aid of, ATI Engineering and ROBUCO.
After the workshop the Italian delegtio will have a m eeting with the Head of EU delegation in Burundi, meeting with Paul Vossen, Head of the Rural Development, Infrastructures and Energy Section.
In the morning the Italian delegation will meet with the Minister of Transport , Public Works and Infrastructure, Hon. Virginie Ciza, followed by team work for the finalisation the CRTM agreement and develop a new agreement concerning project for the assessment and mitigation of the flood risk for Bujumbura area and other topics that might emerge during the discussion. A lunch break with visit to the lake Tanganyika – Hotel club du lac is also scheduled for the early afternoon.
Meeting ant the Ministry of Transport to finalise the agreements and discussion about the involvement of the Department of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Systems of the University of Florence and the Interdepartmental Research Centre for Environment – CIRAM of the University of Naples in a project for the assessment and mitigation of the flood risk for Bujumbura area. The discussion held led the General Director of Equipment Coordination at the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Equipment to extend the involvement to the whole Burundi, starting from the Bujumbura area which faces and emergency situation. Writing of an official invitation letter to start a collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Equipment was sent to GESAAF from the Coordination. The collaboration will be about flood and hydraulic risk mitigation and water management, starting from the realisation of a study for Bujumbura. The collaboration should involve CIRAM, ART and ARTES, in addition to the Ministry. In the afternoon Dott. Giulio Castelli will visit the urban rivers in Bujumbura, while Omnia Energy will visit the University.
Departure from Bujumbura and arrival in Nairobi, Kenya. In the afternoon, the delegation will visit the African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum with Mr. Kennedy Oyugi, Director of Scinnovent Centre and a representative of CABE (Afrian Bio-Entrepreneuship).
In the morning there will be the visit to the EU delegation, where there will be the meeting with theProgramme Managers Infrastructures Section Sanne Willems and Anne Chaussavoine. Later on the delegation will visit the Italian embassy for a meeting with the Ambassodor Egr. Mauro Massoni, Mr. Paolo Rotili – Commerce Official, Dr. Rita Ricciardi – President Association for Italy and Kenya Commerce. In the afternoon, is scheduled a visit to EACCIA – East Africa Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture and a meeting wit Mr. Cahrles Kahuthu, Regional Coordinator, Member of the Steering Committee. Just before the departure Lilia Infelise and Tomaso Trombetti will meet wirth Rita Ricciardi and David Kimosop, Managing Director /CEO of the Kerio Valley Development Authority.
The whole delegation will depart from Kenya during the late afternoon and evening.