CIPIT’s bi-annual moot competition aims to be innovative and to attract teams from across East Africa, and the 2018 edition was no exception. This year’s edition was particularly significant being the first moot in Sub-Saharan Africa to focus on Information Technology(IT) Law. The 2018 moot problem addressed the complexities of innovation, privacy and data protection in jurisdictions that operate in a legal vacuum with respect to data privacy. Therefore, participating students were able to interact with the topics of privacy and data protection and grapple with the ambiguities these cutting-edge issues pose in the legal field. This was also an excellent opportunity for CIPIT to highlight the trickle- down effect of innovations to the recurring concerns of data protection, and to nurture the interest of the young generation in IT law and policy.Continue reading
On 28 February 2018, the Centre for Research in Art, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Cambridge continued its seminar series on ‘Open Intellectual Property (IP) Models of Emerging Technologies and Implications for the Equitable Society’. The topic of the seminar was ‘Open IP in emerging and developing economies’ where the goal was to examine whether emerging and developing economies have an opportunity to take a radical approach to intellectual property (and also collaborative innovation practices) when it comes to areas like manufacturing, green tech, biotech and computing/artificial intelligence. If so, what could that look like and what would it mean for equitable and sustainable development? The speakers during this seminar included: Elisabeth Eppinger (Freie Universität Berlin); Kenneth Huang (National University of Singapore) and Valeria Arza (CENIT). The presentation made on behalf of Open African Innovation Research (Open AIR) was on our on-going work on open and collaborative innovation in and around high-tech hubs in Africa, particularly if/how they are using IP to facilitate openness.
The Open African Innovation Research (Open AIR) network has received funding from the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Advanced Scholars Program (QES) to create new opportunities for emerging scholars. Open AIR is currently accepting proposals for short-term research projects that address Open AIR’s research questions on African innovation through the lens of gender equality, empowerment of women and girls, and inclusion of marginalized communities. Researchers will conduct their projects while based at one or more of Open AIR’s institutional hubs across Africa including our research centre at Strathmore University in Nairobi.
In Part 1, we introduced our recently published paper titled: “A Framework for Assessing Technology Hubs in Africa” and briefly explained our three tiered approach for categorising African hubs as either a cluster, a company or an entire country. This Part focusses on the characteristics of each category of hubs.
Kenya’s vibrant technology sector is known for its innovations in software. The successes of M-PESA, a widely used mobile money transfer platform, and Ushahidi, a global crowdsourcing mapping app, has drawn international attention to the Kenyan startup scene. Supporting the startup scene are a number of tech hubs, incubators, and accelerators.
Software, however, can only be as innovative as the hardware it runs on. A growing network of makerspaces are training Kenyan innovators in the knowledge and skills to manufacture disruptive hardware solutions. What is the story of makerspaces in Kenya? What supports are available for hardware-based innovators? How effective are these makerspaces at promoting innovation? What methods are innovators using to share and protect their ideas?
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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 factors that have led to this acclaim are the growing number of shared working spaces, young technology enthusiasts, incubators where developers are mentored and trained, and a craze for mobile application development. The Open AIR team in Kenya- comprised of Dr. Isaac Rutenberg, Victor Nzomo, Louisa Matu-Mureithi and myself, is conducting research on mobile innovation in Kenya. As a researcher on the team, I am helping to conduct research in the case study entitled “Open Collaborative Models of Mobile Tech Innovation in Kenya.”
Dr. Isaac Rutenberg (CIPIT Director) and Ms. Jacquelene Mwangi (CIPIT Researcher) have co-authored a new peer-reviewed article titled: “Do patents and utility model certificates encourage innovation in Kenya?” recently published in Oxford’s Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice. A copy of the article is freely accessible for a limited period here. In the article, it is observed that traditional measure of innovation at the country level is the number of patents filed and granted. However it is argued that this may not be an appropriate method for measuring innovation in developing countries in Africa, particularly since many patent offices on the continent are ineffective or inactive. However an exception is Kenya, which has a patent office equipped with a corps of examiners and more than two decades of experience in substantively examining patent applications.
In a recent blogpost titled “The Reports of the Death of Innovation are Somewhat Exaggerated” over at the newly revamped Afro-IP blog, CIPIT Director Dr. Isaac Rutenberg offers a response to this article published in one of the local dailies. Here is what Rutenberg had to say:
The article asks why innovation died in Kenya sometime around 1985, and proposes a number of possible contributing factors. It’s really quite insightful and thought-provoking, and many of the points are worth exploration.
A “Maker space” is a collective organization that maintains a workshop for individual tinkering, social learning, and group collaboration on creative and technical projects, generally among adults. This is a location in which creation occurs through interdisciplinary sharing of resources and knowledge. Put differently, a Maker space is a creative laboratory where people with ideas can get together with people who have the technical ability to make these ideas become a reality. A Maker space is often associated with fields such as engineering, computer science, graphic design and digital art, and although the physical space is important, it is the collaboration between individuals with various and distinct areas of knowledge that is fundamental to fostering this creative environment.
As readers of this blog may already know, on April 26th every year, the World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated with the purpose of “learning the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity.” According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), this year’s focus is on exploring “how innovation is making our lives healthier, safer, and more comfortable, turning problems into progress.” In addition, the organisation highlighted the importance of looking at “how the intellectual property system supports innovation by attracting investment, rewarding creators, encouraging them to develop their ideas, and ensuring that their new knowledge is freely available so that tomorrow’s innovators can build on today’s new technology.”