innovations through knowledge networks african experience n.
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  1. INNOVATIONS THROUGH KNOWLEDGE NETWORKS: AFRICAN EXPERIENCE CODIST-11 Workshop on “Promoting Innovative Development and Diffusion in Africa through Open Access Publishing” ECA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2-4 May 2011 By Jacinta Were University of Nairobi, Kenya

  2. OUTLINE • Innovation Concept: Overview • Crucial Questions for Africa • Opportunities for Innovative Development • Challenges • Best Model for Africa • Knowledge Network Initiatives in Africa

  3. INNOVATION ? Often the word “Innovation” is associated with invention and originality • Innovation simply means creativity in development (improvement, advancement, modernism…) • It is not necessarily composed of radical discoveries • Maximizing on the existing resources

  4. Cont…. Wikipedia “Innovation relates to renewal or improvement, with novelty being a consequence of this improvement…” Business Dictionary “Defines Innovation as the process by which an idea or invention is translated into a good or service for which people will pay”

  5. INNOVATIVE DEVELOPMENTCRUCIAL ISSUES • Knowledge content of a nation • Ability to manage, access and share that knowledge • Freedom to creative thinking • Enabling environment

  6. CRUCIAL QUESTIONS FOR AFRICA • Is Africa fully exploiting her innovative potential • What systems are in place to facilitate access to knowledge • What policies are in place to encourage innovative thinking • What systems are in place to encourage sharing of information

  7. OPPORTUNITIES for Innovative Development • Tacit Knowledge • Indigenous research output • Mushrooming of Digital Institutional Repositories • Rich Culture

  8. OPPORTUNITIEScont.. • Constraints • Promising informal industrial sector • Cheap labour • Stable climatic conditions

  9. CHALLENGES Though Africa is rich in knowledge and culture, potential innovators are faced with a lot of challenges

  10. Challenges • Lack of effective systems to facilitate efficient management and access to knowledge • Lack of efficient systems to facilitate networking and sharing of knowledge • Heavy dependency on foreign ideologies impacts negatively on creative thinking • Prohibiting publishing policies (Peerreviewed!)

  11. Challenges cont…. • Inappropriate Technology • Enabling Environment (Oppressive outdated policies) • Comfortable weather (too comfortable to be creative

  12. Innovative DevelopmentWhat is best for Africa “People are more innovative if given the opportunity to operate in a familiar environment” Dave Tait (2008)

  13. TIPS cont… Dave Tait (2008): Innovation in Africa Tips • Innovation often comes from constraint -(If you’ve got very few resources, you’re forced to be very creative in using and re-using them) • Don’t fight culture - (If people cook by stirring their stews, they’re not going to use a solar oven, no matter what you do to market it. Make them a better stove instead) • Embrace market mechanisms - (Giving stuff away rarely works as well as selling it) • Innovate on existing platform- (we’ve got bicycles and mobile phones in Africa, plus lots of metal to weld. Innovate using that stuff, rather than bringing in completely new tech)

  14. TIPS cont… • Problems are not always obvious from afar - (you really have to live for a while in a society where no one has currency larger than a $1 Bill to understand the importance of money via mobile phones) • What you have matters more than what you lack - (If you have a bicycle, consider what you can build based on that, rather than worrying about not having a car, a truck, a metal shop) • Infrastructure can beget infrastructure - (By building mobile phone infrastructure, we may be building power infrastructure for Africa)

  15. Innovative Development in AfricaSTATUS • According to the 2010 Technology and Innovation UN Report, Africa is on track to achieving the UN MDGs. The report associates this progress with innovation • Africa has made a commendable stride in Innovative Development • The main challenge is lack of mechanisms to facilitate access to information and sharing of the same • African scholars, researchers and potential innovators require an enabling platform to share their discoveries

  16. Knowledge Networks • Knowledge Networks have proved the most effective platforms for sharing knowledge and promoting innovative development in Africa • If well designed, knowledge networks can create platforms to channel information freely to the grassroots to increase productivity and improve the livelihood of the rural-based communities

  17. Knowledge Network Initiatives In Africa Mobile Phones Technology • Mobile Phones technology is the most successful knowledge network in Africa • The continent is the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world • Research has shown that in ‘typical’ rural Districts of Africa, up to 80% of households make regular use of mobile phones • Telcom and Media recently put the figure of mobile subscribers in Africa at about half-a-billion

  18. Knowledge Networks cont.. • Mobile phones are facilitating access to appropriate markets for rural-based SMEs, hence taking Africa to the world • The technology has enhanced communication and bridged the gap between urban and rural and between Africa and the world

  19. Knowledge Networks cont.. Library Consortia • Development of library consortia in Africa is a major step to enhancing access to knowledge and promoting sharing of the same • In East Africa, library consortia has enhanced access to information and positively impacted on research activities • Most of the library consortia in Africa are promoting development of digital content

  20. COTUL • The Consortium of Tanzania Universities and Research Libraries (COTUL) supports research and innovative development in Tanzania. • The objective of COTUL is “to foster improvement of academic, research and public libraries in member institutions by promoting cooperative collection development and access to local and World-wide information resources” COTUL website-April 2011

  21. CUUL • The Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL) supports research and innovative Development in Uganda • The objective of CUUL is “to cooperate in continually improving the availability and delivery of library and information services to the higher education community in Uganda and the peripheral research communities” CUUL website – April 2011)

  22. KLISC • The most successful consortium in East Africa is the Kenya Library and Information Services Consortium (KLISC) • The main objective of KLISC is to facilitate access to information for research through sharing access costs

  23. The current membership of KLISC stands at 76 institutions • Constraints facilitated innovative thinking among members of KLISC resulting in a very successful consortium that supports innovative development in Kenya

  24. SUMMARY • Africa has a lot of potential for Innovative Development • Innovation should be encouraged at all levels and in all sectors • Development of digital content should be encouraged to make indigenous knowledge more visible • Mechanisms should be put in place to facilitate access to indigenous knowledge • Knowledge Networks are one of the best methods for facilitating sharing of knowledge