Why Africa needs a local 3D printing industry and an ‘appropriate tech maker movement’ – Interview with Roy Mwangi Ombatti at re:publica 2015

May 26, 2015 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source & Africa

Roy Mwangi Ombatti builds a 3D printer from waste materials at re:publica 2015

Roy Mwangi Ombatti builds a 3D printer from waste materials at re:publica 2015

Roy Mwangi Ombatti  started to tinker with 3D-printing in Nairobi, Kenya more than three years ago. He co-founded and led the Nairobi FabLab Robotics Outreach Program, he produces 3D printers from waste materials, became a Stanford Fablearn Fellow 2014 and he developed a successful low-cost solution to a pressing health problem (his project ‘Happy Feet’ aims at providing bespoke shoes for people with foot deformities as a result of the jigger sand flea in Kenya). I talked to him at re:publica 2015 about his future plans, the role of open source and open innovation and why Africa needs a local 3D printing industry.

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Q: Roy, you just had a workhop on “Motors, Circuits, Value Chains – Building a 3D Printer with E-Waste” here at re:publica 15.  Why is it important for Kenya, or for Africa at large to develop such a local 3D printing industry?

Roy: I am passionate about bringing technology to the less fortunate in my country to solve pressing problems.  I feel that local self-made technology is the thing that has most impact. For one, it is most easily adaptable to local circumstance, as shows for instance my approach of using available e-waste to build the printer. Also, such self-help in innovation is a perfect tool to promote real change: If you empower people to build their own tools to solve their own problems, you win. In fact, this might be the only way to have sustainable lasting impact.

 

Q: You are in the last stages of producing a 3D-printer out of locally available electronic waste. When will it be ready?

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How to make money the open-source-way, but keep the commons alive? – Question 7 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

March 16, 2015 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Open innovation – often based on open licensing and commons-approaches – is changing the business models of more and more businesses and social institutions. Before the advent of open innovation, innovation was kept within the boundaries of the firm (or research institution). In contrast, “Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to markets, as the firms look to advance their technology”, scholar Henry Chesbrough, who coined the term open innovation, has put it. But what opportunities does this imply for institutions in developing countries? What are their learning opportunities?

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Let’s take a look again at the global tech sector as a starting point (for more details, see Seibold 2010a). Here, the most prominent example of free and open source software development and licensing are the operating system Linux, the office suite Open Office and the web browser Firefox. Linux has shown that open-source programs can be very competitive. The reason is obvious: more people know the source code and, accordingly, can correct flaws and make other improvements.

For the private sector in developing countries, such knowledge commons provide a clear opportunity, not only for low-cost access to global state-of-the-art knowledge, technology transfer, and open peer-learning on a massive scale (see Seibold 2009, Seibold 2010a, Seibold 2010b; UNCTAD 2012: 9ff), but also because they have the potential to empower local businesses and communities in developing countries. This creates truly local open innovation by appropriating elements of outside open innovations and transforming them into a product or service that is relevant to local needs.

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Dirk Messner asks: How Can We Learn to Cooperate in a World of Nine Billion People?

April 10, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

 

The enabling mechanisms of cooperation - copyright: contributing authors Messner, Guarin, Haun 2013

The enabling mechanisms of cooperation – copyright: contributing authors Messner, Guarin, Haun 2013

Last week, I took part in a webinar with Dirk Messner on “the enabling mechanisms of cooperation”. The lecture was part of the massive open online course “Leadership for Global Responsibility” of GIZ.

My takeaway has the form of a hexagon, more precisely the “cooperation hexagon” (see picture).Messner (with co-researchers Guarin and Haun) managed to find a nice form to sum up old wisdom: People do cooperate, if they feel that reciprocity is in place in the six dimensions of trust, communication, reputation, fairness, enforcement and we-identity – also across borders and cultures. Such a conclusion is really pretty close to the outcomes of research on cooperation of FOSS communities (no wonder, Messner cites Benkler, who comes from FOSS research). Unfortunately, I will not be able to add Messner’s work as a citation in my forthcoming article on “learning by sharing”, where I drew a table of factors that make people share knowledge –  which it turns out, is motivated by pretty much the same hexagon. I will do that for the next edition 🙂

For now, I recommend to you to read the article on “The Behavioural Dimensions of International Cooperation” (the hexagon is on page 15), to watch Dirks talk and, if you like, to join the (ongoing) online course  on “Leadership for Global Responsibility”. As always, feel free to comment, add or substract 🙂

Knowledge sharing in the informal economy in Africa & the knowledge commons – who „owns“ knowledge? (part I)

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

Here, I want to talk about one of the many interesting themes of the compendium „Innovation & Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa“, which was just released (see also this blog post): Knowledge sharing in the informal economy in Africa and the knowledge commons. [Both links above link to content within the Alumniportal Germany (register or login first to access the link)]

For the first time, we find here some concrete answers to two key questions, that haunts people interested in the linkage between (open) innovation, commons-approaches and „intellectual property“ (IP): Who „owns“ knowledge in informal economy contexts in Africa?

Let us look at the informal automotive sector in Uganda, as described by Dick Kawooya.

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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

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.

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Just out: Practical knowledge on “Open African Innovation” and stunning examples of the knowledge commons in Africa

December 11, 2013 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, News on publications, Open Source & Africa

Openair-books-345Great start of the long-awaited conference of the Open African Innovation Research and Training Network: We just launched two really interesting compendia on “Open African Innovation” packed with practical examples of the knowledge commons in Africa – and with a tool that allows policy advisors to discuss the future of knowledge governance in Africa in three scenarios for 2035. Check the books out online (they are free knowledge of course, sharable under a cc licence) at:

http://www.openair.org.za/capetown2013

Again: congrats to the Open AIR network for pulling all of this together and pulling it off.

For live info on on the conference and the concurrent Global Congress on IP and the public interest, you might also follow #gcongress #openair13 on twitter – and this blog 🙂

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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.

Open African Innovation Research at GIZ’s innovation lounge at re:publica in Berlin

May 28, 2013 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source & Africa, Open Source IT business

republica-2013_copyright_re_publicare:publica is à priori a German blogger conference. Over the years it has however morphed into an international gathering of more than 5000 people from more than 50 countries with a common interest in the following themes: Digital business and innovation, social media, research & education in the Internet, campaigning, culture, media and ultimately, the “res publica”.

So re:publica 2013 was a good place to talk about the ‘Open African Innovation Research & Training Network’ and the upcoming ‘Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest’ and interwoven ‘Open A.I.R conference on open innovation and intellectual property’ in Cape Town from 9 to 13 December.

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Creative Commons is turning 10 – Celebrate!

December 7, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

cc_celebrationCreative Commons is turning 10 this year. The chapters of CC will be hosting parties around the world and sharing party favors online for a ten-day delebration, December 7 to 16. Spread the word at 10.creativecommons.org.

Two Wikipedians in Residence for Africa – call for application

November 12, 2012 in Freedom to learn

WikiAfrica has put out a call for two Wikipedians in Residence (WiR) for the African Continent. The first will facilitate the WikiAfrica Cameroon Project at doual’art in Cameroon. The other will be based with WikiAfrica at the Africa Centre in Cape Town, and will concentrate on assisting, training and supporting the content partners that are part of WikiAfrica’s Share Your Knowledge project. Wikipedian in Residence is an experienced Wikipedian who works with organisations and activates communities in order to share and open up cultural, arts and heritage content to the world through Wikipedia and related Wikimedia projects.

I find this a very interesting initiative and approach, and I believe that Wikipedians in Residence is a cool tool, which has already moved quite some things in North America and Europe. For more info on the call for application, check the website http://www.wikiafrica.net/two-wikipedians-in-residence-for-africa/ . Please do not contact me, Balthas, as I do not have any extra info. Cheers.

Tackling global problems by pooling knowledge – highlights of the first international conference on the knowledge commons

September 14, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Source: A. Diez Herrero | Flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 siehe http://www.flickr.com/photos/21572939@N03/2090542246/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Source: A. Diez Herrero | Flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 siehe http://www.flickr.com/photos/21572939@N03/2090542246/sizes/m/in/photostream/

What do the problems of climate change, global access to affordable medicine and software, food security, and crop availability for poor farmers have in common?

In all of these fields, more and more people are looking at how a collective building and owning of key knowledge can help solve protracted global problems. A global core of these people just met in a tiny Belgium university town at the at the „First International Thematic Conference on the Knowledge commons“. (for more on the term, see wikipedias Knowlegde commons entry”).

It is quite tough for me to sum up such an endeavor. I will still try and do so by picking some issues related to my own main interests, mainly „global knowledge cooperation“ and „harnessing the knowledge commons for open innovation“. I will complement that with a totally non-exhaustive and personal „list of quick links“ on how to save the climate, solve the food crisis, fight pandemics and increase food security with commons approaches.

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Why open innovation helps to scale up development impact – Great new article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review

September 6, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Steel Wool Sparks on the Beach

Now that is sparkling (innovation?) – Picture by: Evan Photo Extremist, licenced under CC BY-ND 2.0, source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thevlue/5813641070/sizes/z/in/photostream/

The Stanford Social Innovation Review just published an article on “Open Innovation: A Muse for Scaling” – Good chances, that this paper will become my personal “favorite article of 2012”. Why?

Well, the paper manages to explain in just two pages and in plain words, why open innovation has the potential to drastically increase the impact of development interventions. It is very prone to scale. As they sum it up: “Open innovation enables community participation, distributed accountability, and knowledge creation—all behaviors that provide the groundwork for scale”.

So let us all work on getting the five tips right in our own work, which are:
Tip 1: Turn beneficiaries into co-creators
Tip 2: Move from enterprise to ecosystem
Tip 3: Master the art of gifting
Tip 4: Spark entrepreneurship inside and outside your organization
Tip 5: Allow for mutability

Very relevant stuff indeed for development cooperation and international cooperation. For more info (on two pages), check Open Innovation: A Muse for Scaling or here on the Alumniportal: APD-copy of Open Innovation: A Muse for Scaling [This is a link to content within the Alumniportal Germany (register or login first to access the link)]. Cheers, Balthas

P.S. Thanks and Kudos to Jeremy de Beer who pointed me to the article.

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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.

The future of economies and business – what’s in it for partner countries and networking among partners & alumni?

August 22, 2012 in Freedom to innovate

 

Copyright: GIZ (I think/hope, if not let me know ...)

Copyright: GIZ (I think/hope, if not let me know …)

Today, I am reporting to you from a GIZ topical conference, where we discussed „the future of economies and business“. We had here lot’s of experts and numerous programmes on sustainable private sector development and economic policy of GIZ from over 30 countries.

Here’s my personal summary of the event for you in four headlines:

1)    Economic crisis in Europe – but don’t you worry in Africa, Asia and Latin America
The experts tell us that we are in trouble in Europe. But: according to them this issue will not affect the economies of developing countries and transition countries.
My comment: let’s hope they are right this time 🙂

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India, the (knowledge) commons and a plan for the future of democracy

April 25, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source & Asia

copyright: wikipedia, licensed under a creative commons share alike license, see www.wikipedia.org

An example of a self-goverened commons: Wikipedia. Copyright: wikipedia, licensed under a creative commons share alike license, see www.wikipedia.org

It is rare these days to see high-level government thinkers talk about the commons. Here is one: Arun Maira of Indias Planning Commission makes the point that commons-based models are important tools to plan for the future of democracy worldwide.

Here is the summary: “The world is full of complex problems, but humanity’s main organizational tools — governments and markets — leave much to be desired. Arun Maira, a member of India’s Planning Commission and previously the chairman of Boston Consulting Group in India, points to a third way.”

Statue of Gandhij in  Baroda, now called Vadodara, India / Picture by Brian Glanz / Licenced under CC Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) / Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brianglanz/2767070246/

Statue of Gandhij in Baroda, now called Vadodara, Ghandi, in my view, was one of the inventors of the “commons” for a common good.  / Picture by Brian Glanz / Licenced under CC Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) / Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brianglanz/2767070246/

I like his focus on “Four L’s” — localization, lateralization, learning and listening, and of course his praise of Ostrom. My only criticism is, that the piece is not dwelling enough on the issue of “knowledge as a commons”, but that may be the next topic of the Indian planning commission …

And here’s the full piece.

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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.

World Bank announces … Open Access Policy (ok, and a new president as well :-)

April 17, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source IT business

Copyright World Bank, source: http://crinfo.worldbank.org/wbcrinfo/sites/wbcrinfo/files/OKR_300px.png

Copyright World Bank, source: http://crinfo.worldbank.org/wbcrinfo/sites/wbcrinfo/files/OKR_300px.png

In the coming days, everyone will talk about the new president of the world bank. I think that the recently announced move of the world bank to an “Open Access Policy for Research and Knowledge” and its launch of an “Open Knowledge Repository” will be more significant over time.

According to a press release, the bank will implement a new Open Access policy for its research outputs and knowledge products, effective July 1, 2012. “The new policy builds on recent efforts to increase access to information at the World Bank and to make its research as widely available as possible. As the first phase of this policy, the Bank launched today a new Open Knowledge Repository and adopted a set of Creative Commons copyright licenses.”

Good move.

BTW: I am quite encouraged to see, that the WB is using the same licence, which we have been implemented in all of our it@inwent capacity building programmes (Update: Link now goes to the site archived by the Internet Archive – last version of 2012)., for instance for the guide “Free your IT Business in Africa“.

BTW 2: For all German readers, there is a good post on the new world bank policy on open heise.

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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.

African meeting on digital commons ahead: Idlelo5, The 5th African Conference on FOSS and the Digital Commons | ict@innovation

February 6, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source & Africa, Open Source IT business

Only one month to go before the “5th African Conference on FOSS and the Digital Commons” will start in Abuja, Nigeria. Idlelo is a conference organized by GIZ partner FOSSFA every two years to bring together the Open Source Community in Africa to share experiences and to network.

Link: http://www.ict-innovation.fossfa.net/event/idlelo-5-5th-african-conference-open-source-and-digital-commons