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Recognizing Africa’s role in the global knowledge economy.

Open AIR Expert

Chidi Oguamanam

Chidi Oguamanam

Professor at University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law

RESEARCH AREA DESCRIPTION

Africa always appears at the tail of rankings of knowledge and innovation indices. Does this mean there is no knowledge produced in Africa? Is there no innovation happening on the continent?

On the contrary, it simply means the way we measure innovation in Africa is ill-suited to the task.

Most of the knowledge and innovation indicators measure how many patents were filed, and how many copyrights were registered. That may reflect innovation in developed countries, but it can’t portray the wealth of knowledge and innovation organically created in Africa that especially thrives in the informal economy.

Open AIR’s research is focused on finding alternative ways to assess knowledge production and use in African contexts, with special focus on innovation.

To find out more about this aspect of our research, visit our case studies page, or our annual report.

Better metrics, better policies for knowledge and innovation in Africa

By Nagla Rizk The Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) leads the research on metrics, laws and policies within the Open African Innovation Research…

Eashan Karnik August 15, 2018

US Fails to Block Progress over Genetic Resources Text at WIPO-IGC 36

Photo credit: Image by Ville Oksanen via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) By Chidi Oguamanam, cross-posted from ABS Canada. After six days of deliberations (June 24-29,…

admin July 11, 2018

Open AIR Expansion au Maroc

By Sara Yassine  Au cours des six derniers mois, le laboratoire de recherche « Entrepreneuriat et Management des Organisations » (LABO-EMO) et Open AIR ont…

Victoria Schorr May 25, 2018

WIPO Expert Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions Takes Another Look at Draft Genetic Resources Text in 2018

By Chidi Oguamanam For the 35th time in 18years, experts have yet again gathered at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) headquarters in Geneva…

Victoria Schorr March 26, 2018

Reconciling Intellectual Property Rights and African Development: The Right to Development Conference Charts the Way Forward

By Uchenna Felicia Ugwu In September 2017, the Thabo Mbeki Foundation and the Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law University of Pretoria gathered together…

Victoria Schorr February 18, 2018

Egypt’s New Investment Law: Creating Better Opportunities for Small Businesses?

By Sarah El Saeed The Egyptian Government has begun in pushing through a fiscal and monetary reform plan that includes various unpopular austerity measures. In…

Victoria Schorr February 12, 2018

Open AIR's Sileshi Hirko wins competitive grant

Mr. Sileshi Hirko, a PhD candidate in the Common Law Section of the University of Ottawa, has won the Civil Society Scholars Award (CSSA). CSSA is a research grant…

Victoria Schorr February 3, 2018

Open AIR NERG presents at Windsor Symposium on Copyright User Rights and Access to Justice

By Uchenna Ugwu How can “user rights” and exceptions to copyright be used most effectively to ensure access to knowledge for all? This question is a very…

Victoria Schorr July 24, 2017

WIPO Special Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Traditional Cultural Expression Shies Away from Consolidating its Mandate but Agrees on Lack of Indigenous Participation

The World Intellectual Property Organization’s specialist committee charged with negotiating text-based instrument(s) for the effective protection of Genetic Resources…

Victoria Schorr June 28, 2017

Challenging the Meaning of Innovation: Lessons from Refugee-Founded Organizations in Kampala

There is often a limited and constricted view of African innovation, especially when it comes to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). While there is…

Victoria Schorr May 23, 2017

Common Misconceptions of Patents in Egypt

Earlier this year, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) held a two-day workshop on “Supporting Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Use the Intellectual…

Victoria Schorr April 18, 2017

Open AIR East Africa Distinguished Speaker Series: Dr. Henry Mutai on IP, Trade and Regional Integration in Africa

On 10 June 2015, the Agreement establishing a Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) was signed in Egypt bringing together 26 African countries from three major regional…

Victoria Schorr March 23, 2017

RECENT DISCUSSION

about Metrics and Policies

Open AIR Expert

Chidi Oguamanam

Chidi Oguamanam

Professor at University of Ottawa

RESEARCH AREA DESCRIPTION

Are formal IP protections necessary to encourage innovation? The rapid proliferation of IP rights can result in hundreds of vague and overlapping claims, increased litigation or threats of litigation, and the predatory behaviour of patent trolls.

In most of Africa, the explosion of high tech innovation exists in an IP vacuum. Over the past five years, incubators, accelerators, maker spaces, and tech hubs have multiplied throughout Africa. The majority are private ventures, but some of these hubs are located within universities, and others are government initiatives.

More and more entrepreneurs and innovators are seeking support from these tech hubs, demonstrating a strong culture of innovation throughout Africa.

Is Africa the right place for formal IP rights? If so, how should they be implemented?

Open AIR will analyse whether formal IP rights are can impact the success or failure of Africa’s burgeoning tech initiatives at and around high technology hubs.

To find out more about our work surrounding high technology hubs, visit our case studies page, and our annual report.Are formal IP protections necessary to encourage innovation? The rapid proliferation of IP rights can result in hundreds of vague and overlapping claims, increased litigation or threats of litigation, and the predatory behaviour of patent trolls.

In most of Africa, the explosion of high tech innovation exists in an IP vacuum. Over the past five years, incubators, accelerators, maker spaces, and tech hubs have multiplied throughout Africa. The majority are private ventures, but some of these hubs are located within universities, and others are government initiatives.

More and more entrepreneurs and innovators are seeking support from these tech hubs, demonstrating a strong culture of innovation throughout Africa.

Is Africa the right place for formal IP rights? If so, how should they be implemented?

Open AIR will analyse whether formal IP rights are can impact the success or failure of Africa’s burgeoning tech initiatives at and around high technology hubs.

To find out more about our work surrounding high technology hubs, visit our case studies page, and our annual report.

RECENT DISCUSSION

about High Technology Hubs

Better metrics, better policies for knowledge and innovation in Africa

By Nagla Rizk The Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) leads the research on metrics, laws and policies within the Open African Innovation Research…

Eashan Karnik August 15, 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…

Victoria Schorr 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…

Victoria Schorr May 18, 2018

DIY Biology in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges for Open Science

Authored by: Vipal Jain and Jeremy de Beer Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Biology, also known as biohacking, puts innovation into the hands of the citizens and provides…

Victoria Schorr May 14, 2018

Open AIR Expansion into Morocco

By Sara Yassine Over the past six months, the Research Laboratory Entrepreneurship and Management of Organizations (LABO-EMO) and Open AIR have been looking at…

Victoria Schorr January 15, 2018

OpenAIR Expansion into Morocco

Over the past six months, the Research Laboratory Entrepreneurship and Management of Organizations (LABO-EMO) and Open AIR have been looking at ways to collaborate…

salmanrana January 9, 2018

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…

Victoria Schorr October 25, 2017

Exploring Crowd-Based Capitalism in Africa’s Sharing Economy

The sharing economy has been growing at an ever-accelerating pace throughout the world as peer-to-peer networks and collaborative company models continue to pop…

Victoria Schorr June 28, 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,…

Victoria Schorr June 7, 2017

Mobile Innovation as the Cornerstone of Socio-economic Development in Kenya

Over the past few years, Kenya’s innovation scene has come to the limelight, resulting in some naming the country as the technology hub of Africa. Some of the…

Victoria Schorr May 15, 2017

South African Maker Movement Workshop

Hosted by: Institute for Economic Research on Innovation (Tshwane University of Technology) and LINK Centre (University of the Witwatersrand) Venue: Metro…

salmanrana March 3, 2017

A New Look at High Tech Hubs in the ‘Digital Savannah’: Part 1

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…

Victoria Schorr February 20, 2017

Open AIR Expert

Chidi Oguamanam

Chidi Oguamanam

Professor at University of Ottawa

RESEARCH AREA DESCRIPTION

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.

RECENT DISCUSSION

about Informal Sector Innovation

How DIY Biology can Improve Access to Digital Agricultural Technologies

By Vipal Jain Digital agricultural research is transforming the way crops are developed. New tools can speed up the ability to produce crops with higher yields…

Victoria Schorr June 13, 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…

Victoria Schorr 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…

Victoria Schorr May 22, 2018

Egypt’s New Investment Law: Creating Better Opportunities for Small Businesses?

By Sarah El Saeed The Egyptian Government has begun in pushing through a fiscal and monetary reform plan that includes various unpopular austerity measures. In…

Victoria Schorr February 12, 2018

Financing of Innovation

By Eslam Shaaban   For decades, Kodak was a global giant in the photography industry all over the world. Over the past decade, however, their business gradually…

Victoria Schorr February 7, 2018

Open AIR Expansion into Morocco

By Sara Yassine Over the past six months, the Research Laboratory Entrepreneurship and Management of Organizations (LABO-EMO) and Open AIR have been looking at…

Victoria Schorr January 15, 2018

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…

Victoria Schorr October 25, 2017

Strengthening innovation support systems at Ghana’s Suame Magazine

In my previous blog on skills development and innovation at Ghana’s Suame Magazine, I showed how the high level of collaboration and sharing of knowledge and skills…

Victoria Schorr July 4, 2017

Exploring Crowd-Based Capitalism in Africa’s Sharing Economy

The sharing economy has been growing at an ever-accelerating pace throughout the world as peer-to-peer networks and collaborative company models continue to pop…

Victoria Schorr June 28, 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,…

Victoria Schorr June 7, 2017

Challenging the Meaning of Innovation: Lessons from Refugee-Founded Organizations in Kampala

There is often a limited and constricted view of African innovation, especially when it comes to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). While there is…

Victoria Schorr May 23, 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…

Victoria Schorr March 6, 2017

Open AIR Expert

Chidi Oguamanam

Chidi Oguamanam

Professor at University of Ottawa

RESEARCH AREA DESCRIPTION

Traditional knowledge has always been a source of livelihood for people, and is increasingly becoming a source of innovation for many entrepreneurs.

The informal economy, the health care sector, the fashion industry, the and entertainment industries, and the hospitality industry are just a few of the sectors that take inspiration from traditional knowledge. It’s the raw material for building niche businesses and creating economic opportunities. These innovations are also increasingly taking into account modern technologies, especially information and communication technologies.

Such technologies are crucial in scaling up traditional knowledge and the economic empowerment of its stakeholders.

Open AIR’s research focuses on how traditional knowledge is used in the interests of indigenous communities, and how it helps establish entrepreneurial businesses.

To find out more about Open AIR’s work on traditional knowledge and IP, go to our case studies page, our annual report, or our two published books: Innovation and Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa (Cape Town: UCT Press, 2014), and Knowledge and Innovation in Africa: Scenarios for the Future (Cape Town: Open AIR, 2013).

RECENT DISCUSSION

about Indigenous Entrepreneurs

US Fails to Block Progress over Genetic Resources Text at WIPO-IGC 36

US Fails to Block Progress over Genetic Resources Text at WIPO-IGC 36

Photo credit: Image by Ville Oksanen via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) By Chidi Oguamanam, cross-posted from ABS Canada. After six days of deliberations (June 24-29,…

admin July 11, 2018
Harnessing Digital Agriculture to Advance African Food Security: Open AIR Research Charts the Way Forward

Harnessing Digital Agriculture to Advance African Food Security: Open AIR Research Charts the Way Forward

By Uchenna Felicia Ugwu Achieving global food security will require innovation. Processes like plant phenotyping and technologies like digital imaging are examples…

Victoria Schorr June 26, 2018
WIPO Expert Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions Takes Another Look at Draft Genetic Resources Text in 2018

WIPO Expert Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions Takes Another Look at Draft Genetic Resources Text in 2018

By Chidi Oguamanam For the 35th time in 18years, experts have yet again gathered at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) headquarters in Geneva…

Victoria Schorr March 26, 2018
WIPO Special Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and  Traditional Cultural Expression Shies Away from Consolidating its Mandate but  Agrees on Lack of Indigenous Participation

WIPO Special Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Traditional Cultural Expression Shies Away from Consolidating its Mandate but Agrees on Lack of Indigenous Participation

The World Intellectual Property Organization’s specialist committee charged with negotiating text-based instrument(s) for the effective protection of Genetic Resources…

Victoria Schorr June 28, 2017
Open AIR East Africa Distinguished Speaker Series: Dr. Henry Mutai on IP, Trade and Regional Integration in Africa

Open AIR East Africa Distinguished Speaker Series: Dr. Henry Mutai on IP, Trade and Regional Integration in Africa

On 10 June 2015, the Agreement establishing a Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) was signed in Egypt bringing together 26 African countries from three major regional…

Victoria Schorr March 23, 2017
WIPO 33rd IGC Session Puts Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCEs) on the Spotlight

WIPO 33rd IGC Session Puts Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCEs) on the Spotlight

The WIPO-IGC recently commenced the next installment of its deliberations for a text-based instrument that focuses on the protection of traditional cultural expressions…

Victoria Schorr March 1, 2017
Recognizing Informal Sector Innovation: Implications for Traditional Knowledge Development in Africa

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…

Victoria Schorr December 15, 2016
Makerspaces and Creativity

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…

Victoria Schorr November 7, 2016
Dr. Kakooza “Dealing with Trans-Border Quasi-Intellectual Property"

Dr. Kakooza “Dealing with Trans-Border Quasi-Intellectual Property"

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…

Victoria Schorr October 6, 2016
Drawn Out Battle Over Genetic Resources Dampens Africa’s Hopes

Drawn Out Battle Over Genetic Resources Dampens Africa’s Hopes

The global South is full of significant, diverse biological and genetic resources. It’s also home to most of the world’s indigenous communities. This is why…

Victoria Schorr April 28, 2016
Open Call for Case Studies

Open Call for Case Studies

Open AIR is calling for African case studies that shed light on the following two overarching research questions: How can open collaborative innovation help businesses…

Nan Warner November 12, 2015