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“Cities that fail to harness the power of innovation will eventually become the customers of those that do,” said Babatunde Fashola, governor of Lagos, in announcing the creation of the Lagos Innovation Advisory Council in September.
The Council—the first of its kind in Africa and possibly in the developing world—was an outgrowth of a Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) executive program in Lagos in 2010 led by the Belfer Center’s Calestous Juma, director of the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project.
The HKS training program, Juma said, “was put together to help the state government of Lagos reposition itself as a leader in innovation in the region.” A year later, what began as a program to ease new cabinet members and ministers into government, had reinvented itself into the 19-member innovation council that would “advise the governor in identifying new investment areas that could help the economy grow and generate new jobs.”
Several participants in the executive program were named to the Council.
“Our road to this day started in October 2010,” said Governor Fashola during the inauguration of the Council, “when the Lagos State Government in a partnership with the Harvard Kennedy School convened a high-level executive program attended by 50 participants.” It was “chaired by Professor Calestous Juma [whose] voice is one of the most respected on our planet. [O]ur government owes a debt of gratitude for his inspirational and motivational role in bringing us thus far and keeping our dream alive.”