RIIS operates within the African and global innovation ecosystem, working with clients that span diverse economic sectors and industries. In the urgency to accelerate innovation - a critical component of robust economies - RIIS provides an adaptive, immersive and flexible sector approach.
Aerospace in Africa
As a player in the global space sector, Africa has limited sovereignty. Instead the continent finds itself reliant on other countries and regions to provide aerospace infrastructure, components and data. Multi-pronged interventions are necessary to ensure that Africa does not experience an “orbital divide” (Davis Cook) as global space sectors continue rapid advancement. This includes attracting venture capital and other funding sources; unlocking the potential of space tech start-ups and entrepreneurs; enhancing regional cooperation between governments; and developing, fine-tuning and harmonising both country and intra-regional aerospace-relevant policy and legislation.
RIIS works with clients and like-minded partners in the African aerospace sector to:
- Provide space tech companies (in particular, downstream applications) with interventions that develop market readiness and enable market access;
- Develop research studies that quantify and map African space sector stakeholders; and
- Forge impact-focused, pan-African connections to create a robust space ecosystem.
The next three years will see the generation of more data in the world than that which was developed throughout the last thirty years. There are expectations that by 2030 there will be 125 billion networked devices across the globe (World Economic Forum, 2022).
In particular, geospatial data and geographic information systems (GIS) today are comprehensively applied across numerous industries. Sophisticated data analysis in real time enables the provision of pre-emptive, adaptive and swift responses to changing conditions, from business imperatives to social crises and forces majeures.
GIS has emerged as a powerful tool that could assist Africa in solving some of its greatest challenges that range from climate change and food security to social inequality, barriers to healthy lives and poverty eradication.
RIIS works with partners that seek to leverage GIS through:
- Strategic guidance and roadmap development related to geospatial mapping needs; and
- Technological platform development equipped with multi-layered reporting functionalities suitable for adaptation to meet sector- and client-specific requirements.
Green energy & natural resources
Africa accounts for less than three percent of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, despite being home to almost one-fifth of the world’s population. The continent also has the lowest emissions per capita of any region. Yet the negative effects of climate change – such as water scarcity and food insecurity – are increasingly the lived reality of millions of Africans, in part leading to mass migration and regional instability (Africa Energy Outlook 2022). For Africa, the race to find alternative sources of energy is of paramount importance. The continent is well placed to respond to this given the abundance of natural renewable sources of energy. This includes solar, wind, hydro- and geothermal and natural gas.
With a growing network of companies and stakeholders focused on supporting the emergence of green energy solutions, RIIS seeks to:
- Create awareness of local and pan-African ventures involved in green energy development;
- Connect likeminded African and global stakeholders to accelerate the emergence of sustainable and clean alternatives to current fossil fuel intensive processes; and
- Provide mentorship and training to local start-ups and entrepreneurs developing green energy and sustainable solutions.
There are almost 650 tech hubs in Africa, which includes accelerators, incubators, university-linked star-up support labs, maker parks and co-working sites. A third of these found in South Africa, Egypt and Kenya (African Development Bank, 2021).
Critical to the realisation of Africa’s full entrepreneurial potential is the development of enabling infrastructure. However, this can only be adequately addressed from a macro view of the continent’s entrepreneurial context that considers its drivers, challenges and unique features, as well as externalities such as environment and financial markets – all having an impact on the individual entrepreneur.
Working with African governments, local and international organisations and donor-funded initiatives, RIIS develops:
- Supporting activities that contribute to entrepreneurial growth; and
- Intellectual assets that enhance understanding of entrepreneurship on the continent.
Special Economic Zones (SEZ) play an important role in industrial development and trade, with more than seven thousand of these zones in 145 different economies, direct employment has been made possible for around 100 million people.
In South Africa, industrial development zones (IDZs) have sought to attract foreign direct investment and spur the export of value-added commodities. The Freeport Saldanha Industrial Development Zone (formerly the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone) is the first South African SEZ to be located within a port, and is the only sector-specific SEZ in South Africa. Sectors include oil and gas, maritime fabrication and repair industries, and related support services.
Working with partners such as the Freeport Saldanha Industrial Development Zone’s Innovation Campus, RIIS provides strategic business development, research and capacity-building initiatives.
Regions that display strong innovation, in conjunction with economic diversification and civic capacities are more robust in the face economic disruption. Viewed through a traditional lens, African innovation is weak, accounting for a mere two percent of world research output, just over one percent of research spending, and less than a percent of all patents (Brookings, 2022).
At ground level, however, Africans are actively innovating as a direct response to community needs, capitalising on accelerating digital skills and existing technologies. In 2021, Africa’s tech start-up community saw a total of 564 companies secure more than USD two billion worth of investment, a record-breaking year for the continent (Disrupt Africa, 2021).
As a key service pillar, RIIS has rich knowledge and deep expertise in the emergence and sustainability of innovation in Africa.
RIIS focuses on:
- Guiding and partnering with clients within a broad, networked innovation ecosystem; and
- Providing strategic guidance and implementation expertise across a broad range of initiatives concerned with broadening Africa’s innovation potential.
South Africa’s mining industry is a crucial component of the country’s economic activity. In 2021, the sector contributed R480 billion to GDP and R78.1 billion to taxes (Minerals Council South Africa, 2022), while being responsible for approximately 1.4 million jobs (Minerals Council, 2019).
While the global demand for low-carbon energy grows, the reality is that transitioning to net-zero carbon emissions will likely follow a slow progression. This is due to the fact that there are limited resources available to enable the just transition. In preparation for the transition, South Africa’s mining industry is involved in the exploration and implementation of strategies to limit negative environmental impact, including investigations into modernisation.
Working with key stakeholders within the mining sector, RIIS contributes to initiatives that:
- Strengthen the mining innovation ecosystem for a sustainable mining industry;
- Identify innovative approaches in environmental, social and governance performance in the mining industry; and
- Help build a more environmentally-friendly, people-centric, safer and healthier mining industry.