Category Archives: Blog Post / News

Open Data’s Effect on Food Security

By Jeremy de Beer, Jeremiah Baarbé, and Sarah Thuswaldner Agricultural data is a vital resource in the effort to address food insecurity. This data is used across the food-production chain. For example, farmers rely on agricultural data to decide when to plant crops, scientists use data to conduct research on pests and design disease resistant plants, … Continue reading Open Data’s Effect on Food Security


Innovation by “makers” in South Africa’s Gauteng Province

The “Makers” who come together to tinker and hack in the maker collectives of South Africa’s Gauteng Province display a wide range of innovation practices, our research for Open AIR has found.

Our study, Collaboration and Appropriation in Gauteng Makerspaces, investigated the activities of eight Gauteng maker collectives. The findings have now been published in Open AIR Working Paper 6, entitled The Maker Movement in Gauteng Province, South Africa.


Challenging the Meaning of Innovation: Lessons from Refugee-Founded Organizations in Kampala

By Nicole Tumaine There is often a limited and constricted view of African innovation, especially when it comes to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). While there is the common perception that refugees on the continent are resilient, innovative, and resourceful, it is only in the sense that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. … Continue reading Challenging the Meaning of Innovation: Lessons from Refugee-Founded Organizations in Kampala


Mobile Innovation as the Cornerstone of Socio-economic Development in Kenya

Over the past few years, Kenya’s innovation scene has come to the limelight, resulting in some naming the country as the technology hub of Africa. Some of the factors that have led to this acclaim are the growing number of shared working spaces, young technology enthusiasts, incubators where developers are mentored and trained, and a craze for mobile application development. The Open AIR team in Kenya – comprised of Dr. Isaac Rutenberg, Victor Nzomo, Louisa Matu-Mureithi and myself – is conducting research on mobile innovation in Kenya. As a researcher on the team, I am helping to conduct research, interviews, and analysis on the case study entitled “Open Collaborative Models of Mobile Tech Innovation in Kenya.”


Common Misconceptions of Patents in Egypt

Earlier this year, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) held a two-day workshop on “Supporting Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Use the Intellectual Property System in Their Competitive Strategy” at the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology in Cairo, Egypt, which some of our Open AIR NERG members attended. The goal of this meeting was to discuss how to encourage young innovators to protect their inventions by patenting them at the Egyptian Patent Office. The workshop had vibrant and sometimes heated discussions between these innovators and government officials regarding many of the obstacles faced in the patenting process in Egypt.


New Funding for Research on African Innovation and Gender

The Open AIR network has received funding from the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Advanced Scholars Program (QES) to create new opportunities for emerging scholars to explore African innovation through the lens of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.


Open AIR hosts South African Maker Movement Workshop

Enthusiasts and researchers gathered on Friday, March 3, 2017 to share research on the growing African maker movement. The workshop was hosted at the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa.


WIPO 33rd IGC Session Puts Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCEs) on the Spotlight

The WIPO-IGC recently commenced the next installment of its deliberations for a text-based instrument that focuses on the protection of traditional cultural expressions (TCEs), pursuant to its mandate. There are two scheduled forums on TCEs beginning Feb 27-March 3 and to be completed in June 2017, which will round off the Committee’s work for the 2016-17 biennium.


Understanding Knowledge Dynamics and Scaling-up in Micro Enterprises in Otigba Market Cluster

In part 1, I discussed our preliminary findings from 73 field interviews conducted by my team and I in the Otigba Market Cluster. Since then we have conducted an additional 123 interviews, making a total of 200 interviews in all. In this second post, I will discuss more on the kind of innovations in the cluster, how MSMEs in the cluster scale-up, and the impact of knowledge sharing on MSMEs’ innovativeness.


A New Look at High Tech Hubs in the ‘Digital Savannah’: Part 1

This is the first in a series of blog posts highlighting Open AIR’s latest working paper, A Framework for Assessing Technology Hubs in Africa, which will soon be published in the New York University Journal of Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law. This is the first paper to offer a framework for systematically describing and assessing the emergence of high technology hubs throughout Africa.


Skills Development and Innovation at Suame Magazine, Ghana

Funded by the Open AIR network, my case study is about skills development and innovation at Ghana’s Suame Magazine Industrial Cluster. The research I am conducting seeks to understand the processes and systems that contribute to how knowledge is or is not shared and how skills are acquired in one of West Africa’s largest informal sector industrial clusters, Suame Magazine. How skills are learned and what is communicated between those in the industrial cluster will help us to learn how innovations are shared and taught among these informal businesses.


Open AIR North Africa Distinguished Speaker Series: Ibrahim Al-Safadi on Makerspaces and Employment Opportunities

On 10 December 2016, as part of the RiseUp Summit in Cairo, Open AIR’s North Africa hub hosted their first Distinguished Speaker event with Ibrahim Al-Safadi, the CEO of Luminous Education. The Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) invited Al-Safadi to speak about the role of “makerspaces” to tackle unemployment and to share his experiences in how to create a makerspace that ensures that the individuals involved end up with jobs.


Recognizing Informal Sector Innovation: Implications for Traditional Knowledge Development in Africa

In 2012, a civil society group called the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), raised concerns about a draft Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) plant variety protection protocol. AFSA was concerned,


Gender, IP, and Innovation: Open AIR’s Future Research

The Open AIR network seeks to bring, among other things, a gendered perspective to our research. We are exploring the nexus between feminist literature, intellectual property, information technology, and innovation; connecting these approaches into the network’s future priorities.


El Houssamy Presents at Egypt Entrepreneurship Summit

The Summit was part of a series of events that took place in Egypt in conjunction with the Global Entrepreneurship Week. A2K4D’s Senior Research Officer, Nagham El Houssamy, participated in the summit, speaking on the Data-Driven Innovation Panel on Friday, November 18.