Knowledge sharing & community-based innovation models in Africa: Which knowledge governance in the future? (part II)

December 12, 2013 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source & Africa by Balthas

Source: source_knowledge_innovation_in_africa_scenarios_future / license: CC attribution share alike non-commercial

Source: source_knowledge_innovation_in_africa_scenarios_future / license: CC attribution share alike non-commercial

In part II of this blog series, I will link the current reality of knowledge sharing in Africa with appropriate knowledge governance systems for the future. For the future, the Open African Innovation Research and Training network has worked on Three Scenarios for the Future of Knowledge & Innovation in Africa.The current reality is described in the compendium „Innovation & Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa“, which was just released and in my last blog entry on „knowledge sharing in the informal economy in Africa & the knowledge commons“.

This report grapples with the complex and dynamic forces shaping innovation systems over the next two decades. It distills three different but equally plausible future scenarios: one a world of “wireless engagement,” another where “informal is the new normal,” and a third that is “sincerely Africa.” Each scenario raises different issues for control and access to knowledge in Africa.

The future report states, that „Innovation and creativity” and the knowledge that underpins them – provide the alchemy that drives human development and welfare, empowers individuals and national economies, and perhaps even contributes to democratic self-governance and longer healthier lives. However, it is seldom that the adjective „African“ is associated with innovation – an omission that this document seeks to address. Might Africans possess more knowledge of value in tomorrow’s world? Might its history and extraordinary diversity offer potential for new ways of thinking? Might the balance tip in Africa’s favour?“

These are of course big questions – and the future is open and will certainly be a mix of the three scenarios described in the book. But the key question is answered in one cool graph reproduced below: So: Which knowledge governance will be appropriate in the future?

Klick on the following link to open the graph: knowledge governance in Africa in 2035 – scenarios

It depends on the scenarios: these are represented by the colors in the graph. But it also depends on the structure of the knowledge: are we talking about tacit or codified knowledge? Then the specifity of knowledge: are we talking about generalisable knowledge or contextual knowledge. And finaly the legal formality around the knowledge: are we talking about informal or formal or semi-formal types of knowledge?

If you consider all these lenses, you get to quite „new“ forms of knowledge governance for Africa, which can only partly be described in terms of intellectual property governance. For instance, the mode of „apprenticeship“ is a way of managing the transmission and co-creation of knowledge in circumstances, where tacit and contextual knowledge is key (see for instance the example in my first blog). Or „product complexity“ might be the way to deter competition in a context of generasibale informal knowledge, which is described in the scenario „informal is the new normal“.

For more than this glimpse, please check the compendium „knowledge and innovation in Africa – scenarios for the future“ and get in touch with the Open AIR community.

Links Here’s an online copy of the publications:  –> http://www.openair.org.za/content/open-air-publications

–> Also check the group “fellows and friends of Open African Innovation” on the Alumniportal.

[This is a link to content within the Alumniportal Germany (register or login first to access the link)]

GIZ: commons@ip – harnessing the knowledge commons for open innovation – human capacity development and networking

BMZ supports Open A.I.R. via Germany’s Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), under the GIZ commons@ip – Harnessing the Knowledge Commons for Open Innovation initiative. The commons@ip initiative focuses on how IP rights interact with open innovation, the knowledge commons, open licences and collaborative innovation. It is part of the BMZ-mandated Train for Trade programme, which aims at strengthening the private sec tor and its constituent bodies in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region through training and capacity building in export promotion, quality control and promotion of open innovation – as well as through promotion of local and regional economic development and trade.

Open A.I.R.’s training and capacity building components include:

  • building the network’s capacity – through online platforms, network-wide workshops, research methodology support, scenario-building meetings and thematic seminars;
  • awarding Open A.I.R. Fellowships to emerging IP scholars and potential leaders – from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Nigeria and Egypt;
  • exchanging knowledge through Africa-wide and South–South knowledge networking at seminars, workshops and conferences;
  • growing awareness among African creators, innovators, entrepreneurs and policy-makers of openness-oriented approaches to innovation and IP matters in Africa; and
  • teaching at African tertiary educational institutions, including development of a replicable, open course curriculum on IP law and development.

Attribution and license:

The paragraphs in italics are taken from the book and the website, see there for full attribution.This entire article is under the following cc-license to comply with the licence of the quotes from the book.

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 South Africa Licence
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Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.