In a short time, Covid-19 has brought a large portion of the world to a complete standstill. Without a cure or a vaccine, the only hope to prevent continued losses of life comes in the form preventing contagion through better hygiene practices (regular washing of hands and other forms of decontamination) and physical distancing (i.e. to avoid public spaces whenever possible, and when necessary to be in face-to-face contact, to maintain a distance of at least one metre from others).
The necessity of creating physical distance from others creates the largest challenge to the business community in SADC and worldwide, with a significant number of businesses now at risk. The effects are being felt in the SAIS 2 Programme, with full lock-downs currently active in Namibia, South Africa, and Botswana. Tanzania and Zambia have travel restrictions in place, as does the programme’s main donor, Finland.
These measures have a marked impact on SAIS 2 activities as it is a regional programme that has in the past heavily depended on mobility and interaction between countries, individuals, and organisations across SADC and the rest of the world. The high levels of uncertainty faced by all people worldwide – particularly with regard mobility and travelling – have required SAIS 2 stakeholders and beneficiaries to change the way in which their plans are implemented. The stakeholders, including the members of the programme management office (the SAIS 2 PMO), now work from home. Planned SAIS 2 events and activities are either being postponed or redesigned in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite these challenges, SAIS 2 is determined to continue delivering its programme interventions, innovating on the means of delivery to ensure that the committed support is minimally compromised. To ensure the programme’s continuity despite these trying circumstances, the SAIS 2 PMO is currently putting in place mitigation measures aligned to and in compliance with the national guidelines given in the SADC Region. These measures will be shared with our partners and beneficiaries as soon as they have been approved by our donors.
SAIS 2 is a platform that brings together innovation actors from across the entrepreneurship, business, and innovation ecosystems to collaborate, share experiences, and learn from each other. The Covid-19 pandemic is disruptive and continuously requires significant transformation in how innovation support can be offered. In response, SAIS 2 strives to continuously draw on the experiences and lessons learnt from stakeholders and experts alike to find the most optimal ways to continue supporting innovation in SADC. The programme will share news of its innovation network’s activities, including responses to counter the impact of Covid-19 on lives and businesses across the region.