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Recognizing Africa’s role in the global knowledge economy.
Focal Topic

Maker Movement


Open AIR Expert

Chris Armstrong

Researcher at University of Ottawa and University of the Witwatersrand


Open AIR is conducting research on makerspaces across the African continent and Canada because maker activities provide insights into the open, collaborative approaches to innovation that are at the core of Open AIR’s focus.

The maker movement is a global culture promoting openness-oriented innovation using open-source hardware. It is also a vehicle for a wide range of innovators: hobbyists, tinkerers and hackers; developers of open source software/hardware solutions; grassroots, informal-sector artisans and craftspeople; small-scale manufacturers; social innovators; and a wide range of entrepreneurs. This diverse cast of innovators is able to find common cause in maker “communities of practice” focused on do-it-yourself (DIY) user innovation, learning-by-doing, innovations of necessity, mentoring, collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and innovation-sharing.

African makers are not only digitally sophisticated hobbyists. Our research shows that makers across the continent often gather to innovate solutions to local problems and to develop new businesses. The maker movement thus provides windows into elements of several Open AIR’s research focus areas: informal-sector innovation, indigenous entrepreneurship, high technology hubs, gender, and the recalibration of innovation metrics and policies.

As spaces for collaborative knowledge sharing, makerspaces offer a unique sandbox for action research on how to promote inclusivity in technological development.


about Maker Movement

Les Femmes entrepreneures au Senegal : entre montee en puissance et difficulte d'acces a la technologie et a l'innovation

Par Aboubacry Kane Aujourd’hui, les femmes entrepreneures sont de plus en plus présentes sur la scène économique au Sénégal. Bien qu’elles s’engagent…

Aboubacry Kane November 29, 2019

Makerspaces et émancipation des femmes en Afrique : Briser les préjugés !

Par Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou Au cours de mon séjour de recherche, je me suis intéressé à la place réservée aux femmes au sein des Makerspaces d’Afrique…

Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou July 12, 2019

OMMIC: A Personal Perspective

By Uche Ajuonuma Last fall, I attended the Ontario Makers and Mentors Innovation Conference (OMMIC) at uOttawa. The event was held at the new STEM (Science, Technology,…

Uche Ajuonuma June 5, 2019

Empowering Rural Craft Women through Social Entrepreneurship and Open, Inclusive Innovation

By Desmond Osaretin Oriakhogba My Engagement with the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa As part of my on-going project as a Queen Elizabeth…

Desmond Oriakhogba May 5, 2019

The Maker Movement Across North Africa (Arabic)

نغم الحسامي ونجلاء رزق Authored by: Nagham El Houssamy and Dr. Nagla Rizk For the English version of this Working Paper, please click here. نسعى…

Nagham El Houssamy March 27, 2019

Researching Maker Communities and Socio-economic Inclusion

By Chris Armstrong As part of our Maker Movement research theme, we at Open AIR are trying to build understanding of how participation in maker communities can impact…

Chris Armstrong March 18, 2019

À la découverte de la « Darky » : une imprimante 3D fabriquée au Sénégal

Par Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou La difficulté d’accès à l’équipement est souvent pointée comme l’un des principaux problèmes dont souffrent les makerspaces…

Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou December 14, 2018

Fablabs et le développement durable de l’Afrique

Par Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou Je suis Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou, doctorant en Communication Publique à l’Université Laval (Québec, Canada). Je m’intéresse…

Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou November 30, 2018

3D Printing: Enabler of Social Entrepreneurship in Africa? The Roles of FabLabs and Low-Cost 3D Printers

Authored by: Tobias Schonwetter and Bram Van Weile Abstract: Recognising the potential of 3D printing technology for facilitating locally relevant innovation and…

Tobias Schonwetter October 15, 2018

The Maker Movement Across North Africa

Authored by: Nagham El Houssamy and Dr. Nagla Rizk Abstract: This Working Paper sets out findings from research exploring the growing maker movement across North…

Nagham El Houssamy October 5, 2018

Making at AFRICAOSH Summit 2018

By Outlwile Maselwanyane  The first gathering for Africa Open Science & Hardware (AfricaOSH) was hosted by Kumasi Hive innovation hub, Kumasi, Ghana, on April…

Outlwile  Maselwanyane May 30, 2018

Maker spaces in developing countries: Sites of innovation despite simultaneous challenges

by Mohamed Hosny In the past few years, there have been several initiatives to help entrepreneurs introduce new creative and innovative products that break from…

Mohamed Hosny May 22, 2018