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

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, in places such as South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, and elsewhere. The maker movement is a global culture promoting openness-oriented innovation using open-source hardware. Tools commonly found in makerspaces include 3D printers, laser cutters, and Arduino circuit boards. Makerspaces are places where people gather to build projects, learn new technologies, and develop entrepreneurial opportunities. They are workshops that give ‘makers’ the tools, resources, and training to prototype their hardware-based ideas.

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.

As such, makerspaces are locations where informal and formal sectors interact, offering a unique opportunity to study intersections across Open AIR’s core research themes: high technology hubs, informal sector innovation, and indigenous community entrepreneurship. Our research is also contributing to a larger research agenda, laying the groundwork for international comparative studies of makerspaces in Canada and Latin America. 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

The Maker Movement Across North Africa

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

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…

Mohamed Hosny May 22, 2018

Les Fablabs en Afrique : une utopie à l’épreuve des réalités locales

By Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou Du 6 au 10 mai 2018, la ville de Dakar accueillait le Festival Afropixel 6 sur la thématique « Utopies non-alignées : Imaginaires…

Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou May 18, 2018

Historic Gathering of Africa’s Open Science Hardware (OSH) Innovators – the AfricaOSH Summit, Kumasi, Ghana

By Chris Armstrong  Open AIR was privileged to be a supporting partner of the inaugural AfricaOSH Summit, held 13-15 April 2018 at the Kumasi Hive innovation…

Chris Armstrong May 11, 2018

A Scan of South Africa's Maker Movement

Authored by Jeremy de Beer, Chris Armstrong, Meika Ellis and Erika Kraemer-Mbula, this Working Paper sets out findings from a national scan of maker collectives…

Jeremy de Beer December 21, 2017

Africa’s Maker Movement: An Overview of Ongoing Research

Makerspaces are places where people gather to build projects, learn new technologies, and develop entrepreneurial opportunities. Open AIR is conducting research…

Jeremy de Beer October 25, 2017

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,…

Chris Armstrong June 7, 2017

The Maker Movement in Gauteng Province, South Africa

Authored by Erika Kraemer-Mbula and Chris Armstrong, this Working Paper sets out findings from research into the dynamics of the emerging “maker” movement in…

Erika Kraemer-Mbula June 6, 2017

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…

Chris Armstrong March 6, 2017

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,…

Nagham El Houssamy January 22, 2017

Makerspaces and Creativity

Looking back at Open AIR’s ‘Making’ Innovation Happenroundtable   By Sean Boots In mid August, Open AIR hosted a roundtable discussion on makerspaces…

Sean Boots November 7, 2016