Drawing yet again from my interactions at Connected Kenya, where I had the opportunity to participate in a focused fireside chat with a healthy number of members of parliament present, a thought emerged on yet another stumbling block to innovation; that of legal bottlenecks.
Innovation lies in the rethinking of, or recreation of already existing elements to birth a product or service that addresses a pain point, whether apparent or revealed. Many times this will mean brining down walled gardens, challenging status quo and disruption of the normal. Our presently flogged poster child – Mpesa, happened to slip past the guard dogs of the traditional banking sector and scaled quickly to almost become untouchable as the ecosystem players, caught flat footed have been forced to play ball.
Not every good idea will slip through the gate unnoticed and uninhibited. In this particular case, there is the issue of county insecurity, exacerbated by the lack of descent communication infrastructure and services. As deduced from feedback given by currently licensed players; the population there, does not offer a juicy revenue proposition. In a perfect storm, the regulator would come down hard and fast on a provider that innovated to provide a solution; despite the fact that the asking amounts for say, a license are the very reason why the areas lack coverage.
The area MP’s have a mandate to fulfill to their people, access to budgets that can be applied toward finding and deploying a solution and arguably access to the August House where they can marshal peer support to adapt legislation.
Considering the August House advantage is not available to all, which path would you follow? Succumb to the system and let a population suffer? Or innovate and fight out the legalities?
Companies should be in a position to invoke some amendment or other that protects an idea from premature death caused by an archaic or otherwise restrictive law, where the benefits to the consumer or citizen – if thinking of government services would hold ground.
Maybe it’s time we started thinking of legal bunkers that would allow for the proof of concept to be realized and assumptions tested; thereafter providing justification of whether to kill or let live a service or product line.