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Recognizing Africa’s role in the global knowledge economy.
Research Area

Informal Sector Innovation


Open AIR Expert

Chidi Oguamanam

Chidi Oguamanam

Professor at University of Ottawa


The majority of business enterprises in Africa are informal – but what are their creative processes? How do they innovate?

These questions are largely unanswered, as research on informal enterprises still represents a relatively new and unexplored frontier.

The informal sector is generally characterized by a lack of regulations typically seen in the formal sector. However, our research suggests the two worlds are not as far apart as they appear.

This kind of fluidity has implications for IP and innovation patterns, and can be the catalyst for developing unique, open knowledge management strategies across the continent.

Gaining a fuller appreciation of how the informal and formal sectors interact in different contexts, and how best to alter the use of IP rights, can help public policy frameworks effectively encourage economic growth – not only in Africa, but in Canada as well.

To read about how we study the informal sector, go to our case studies page. To find out more about our results and our impact, read our annual report.


about Informal Sector Innovation

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

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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…

Victoria Schorr March 6, 2017