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Access to Knowledge for Development (A2K4D) Faculty and Staff participate in “South African Maker Movement Workshop”, which took place at IERI in Pretoria, South Africa from 3 March 2017.

Mar 30, 2017

The Open African Innovation Research 


AIR) network, the Economic Research on Innovation (IERI) at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Institute, in collaboration with the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) LINK Centre hosted the “South African Maker Movement Workshop”, which took place at IERI in Pretoria, South Africa on March 3, 2017. 

The event brought together researchers and stakeholders from the African maker movement to give on-the-ground examples of how makerspaces are approaching issues of sustainability, innovation/enterprise-scaling, outreach, skills development, and national networking

The workshop was attended by A2K4D Director Nagla Rizk, in addition to Nagham El Houssamy and Mohamed Hosny from the A2K4D research team. Open AIR researchers from Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, and Canada went on a pre-workshop tour to visit some of Pretoria’s diverse makerspaces. 

On the importance of such research workshops Nagla Rizk stated, “The collaborative essence of makerspaces makes this research special and exciting. It presents a unique opportunity to explore informal innovation from different angles, and produce groundbreaking research on the topic in the region. A2K4D is lucky to be part of this growing research network. We look forward to hosting a similar maker movement event in Cairo in Fall 2017.” 

During the workshop, El Houssamy presented A2K4D’s on-going research on makerspaces in the North African region, specifically Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia. El Houssamy stressed the great potential of the maker movement in providing employment opportunities for youth in North Africa, similar to elsewhere on the continent. 

“Makerspaces not only provide access to technology, these spaces also provide a platform to young makers, students, and potential entrepreneurs to reach out and connect to key players in markets” noted El Houssamy adding that “the majority of makerspaces mapped by the research in North Africa are community-based, and function separately from educational institutions or libraries. 
An Open AIR research meeting followed the workshop, where Rizk shared with Open AIR researchers the ongoing work on the assessment of knowledge and innovation metrics in Africa. Rizk is leading Open AIR’s “Metrics” theme, which aspires to create novel metrics that better capture innovation that is unaccounted for through mainstream measurement practices. 

“Significant innovation takes place in Africa in a mode that is collaborative, based on openness and sharing, and part of that is significant innovative capacity building that goes unmeasured,” stated Rizk “A2K4D is attempting to develop a sharper lens to capture what are usually unmeasured aspects of innovation on the micro levels.” 

A2K4D is the North African Hub of the Open AIR network, with other institutional hubs at the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) at Strathmore Law School in Kenya, the Intellectual Property Law Policy Research Unit at University of Cape Town in South Africa, and the Centre for Law, Technology and Society in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa in Canada.
The network connects more than three-dozen researchers, from multiple scholarly disciplines, across the academic, public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, based in 15 African countries and Canada, with dynamic linkages to the broader global intellectual property community.

Open AIR’s current research focuses on the scalability of open and collaborative business models, and their impacts on development. The research will take the form of case studies, which examine the connection between the practice of collaborative innovation and the processes of knowledge sharing and/or knowledge appropriation through intellectual property rights and other mechanisms.
The overarching objective of the Open AIR network’s research is to harness emerging opportunities in open and collaborative business models in order to create more prosperous, inclusive and networked economies in Africa.