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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
Is intellectual property (IP) gender neutral? No. Neither is the dominant discourse on innovation. Recognizing this bias is the first step toward remedying it.
So what is the Otigba Computer Village? Oyelaran-Oyeyinka in 2006 described it as the biggest ICT hub of West Africa – perhaps the biggest ICT market in all of Africa – because of the size and the volume of business activities carried out on a daily basis within the cluster. The research I have been conducting looks at the knowledge dynamics at play in the informal ICT businesses in the cluster, with a view to understanding how these dynamics drive informal enterprises’ innovation and scaling-up. While other studies of the cluster have evaluated the size and capacity of the cluster, the evolution of the cluster, mode of operation, performance, sustainability and constraints, there are no studies looking at how the local businesses identify new and useful knowledge. With over 5000 businesses in the cluster, there is bound to be knowledge exchange either through spillover or conscious transfer. How is this happening?
In mid August, Open AIR hosted a roundtable discussion on makerspaces and innovation hubs in Africa. I found it really fascinating to take part in the discussion, which featured a number of uOttawa entrepreneurship and engineering professors, Open AIR researchers, visiting professors, and staff from IDRC. The presentations and follow-up conversations were thought provoking and the room had a great mix of diverse ideas.
Under the masterful guidance of our North African hub leader, Nagla Rizk, six NERGs are currently engaged in research spanning North Africa. Our AUC hub is the lead on research into economics, innovation, and metrics (among other topics). Nagla has been with Open AIR since its evolution from the ACA2K (Africa Copyright Access to Knowledge) group in 2011 and is now looking in depth into the issue of how to measure innovation in a manner that accurately reflects what is happening on the ground in most, if not all, of the African continent.
How the world evolves in the next decade (and beyond) may be dependent upon a new-age movement re-instilling age-old skills: the maker movement. In my ongoing research into the maker movement in Canada and South Africa (see earlier posts here and here), I recently co-hosted a workshop in Ottawa with attendees from the University of Ottawa, representatives of makerspaces in the community, and those with knowledge about makerspaces elsewhere in the world.
In October 2010, Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda, recorded a rap song titled: “Do You Want Another Rap?” as part of his re-election campaign to capture the imagination of young voters. The song was a huge success and may have played a part in his reelection. When Museveni applied for a copyright registration of the song, however, members of the Ankole community filed an objection stating that the song was derived from Ankole folklore. While the Registrar of Copyrights in Uganda eventually allowed Museveni’s copyright application for registration, this case triggered Dr. Anthony Conrad K. Kakooza’s interest in the area of traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) and whether TCEs should be recognized within the domain of intellectual property (IP) law.
Open data has the potential to end global hunger. Farmers, government ministers, NGOs, and private firms gathered to collaborate on openness in agriculture in New York City at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit on September 16 and 17, 2016.
Open AIR aims to understand how open collaborative innovation can help businesses scale up and seize the opportunities of the global knowledge economy. This question is important in a wide range of sectors, including agriculture. With the rise of data-driven innovation, facilitated by “digital” or “computational” agriculture, stakeholders need to know whether conventional intellectual property management strategies or more open collaborative approaches will have the most positive impacts on society in both developed and developing regions of the world.