Northern theories for Southern contexts?

Over the last two years, I have thought a lot about the use of ‘Western’ scientific theoretical frameworks to analyse phenomenon in the developing world. This question has been particularly relevant for me as an African student, studying African innovation in a European university, and mingling largely with European scholars throughout my doctoral work. Much […]

Promoting Inclusive Innovation Through Policy

I had the pleasure of participating in a conference on Innovation for Inclusive Development organised by the OECD, the World Bank and UNU-Merit. Discussions in the conference sought to find ways in which governments, private sector, the research community and other stakeholders can support the emergence of and scaling up of inclusive innovations. How does […]

The First (or Second) of a Thousand Steps: Car Manufacture in Kenya

Kenya is building cars! For a student of innovation, that’s exciting news. And given my interest in social, inclusive and frugal innovation, news of a low-cost car coming to market, developed for rural and off-road use, using locally-sourced materials, is even more exciting. OK, let me clarify: Kenya has been building (assembling) cars for a while now, but only […]

Musings on Kenya’s GDP Statistical Revision

Several African countries have been revising the numbers they use to calculate their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Ghana led the pack in 2010 with a 60% upward GDP revision, and now Nigeria boasts a revised GDP of 510 billion dollars, almost double her previously reported GDP—a staggering number compared to other African countries. This makes Nigeria the […]

Inclusive innovation

Two truths about innovation: it directly contributes to economic development positively. However, innovation can also inhibit equitable development, at least in the short term. How does innovation lead to development? We create better products, put them on the market, and if they appeal to consumers, they will adopt them to substitute older, inefficient products. Competition […]

China, the new idol for Africa?

There’s been a lot of debate on the new China-Africa economic relations. The Chinese say that aid and investment in Africa, which has doubled in the last few years, is about co-operation and mutual benefit. Many in the West, however, are suspicious. They’re concerned about the Chinese self-interested pursuit of Africa’s vast natural resources, and […]

Africa economic renaissance!?

When I signed up to study economics of innovation, I never knew how emotionally draining the process would be. I really didn’t appreciate before how much more African countries need to do to ‘develop’. I didn’t even really understand what it meant to ‘raise living standards’. We know the usual rundown: dilapidated transport infrastructure, over […]