Thursday, June 19, 2014

Open A.I.R. Comes to A2K4D Workshop at AUC

By Mirit Agaiby, Seif Issa, Wadie Zakhary and Yasmin Ashmawy

Cairo, Egypt - Law and business faculty members in the annual Access 2 Knowledge 4 Development Workshop discussed intellectual property and innovation to enhance development in Africa, on Monday, June 16, 2014, at the American University in Cairo.

Members of the Open African Innovation Research Network (Open A.I.R.) who joined the session as panelists were: Nagham El Houssamy, as chair, and Nagla Rizk, an economics professor from AUC’s School of Business. Faculty of Law members at the University of Ottawa, Canada, Jeremy de Beer and Chidi Oguamanam, were also present. The other panelists included Research Fellow Douglas Gichuki from Center for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law at Strathmore University, Kenya, and Dick Kawooya, assistant professor at University of South Carolina, United States.

Open A.I.R. aspires to better the economies of African countries through emphasizing the evolution of knowledge governance, innovation and intellectual property, starting now until the year 2035.

The workshop’s focus was to discuss the two books that the panelists either co-authored or edited: “Innovation & Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa,” and “Knowledge & Innovation in Africa: Scenarios for the Future.”

The presenters displayed two short movies, explaining their developmental works in Africa, and summarized the findings of both books.

The first book, “Innovation & Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa,” tackles case studies on the complex relationships between innovation and intellectual property from nine countries in Africa.

During the discussion of this book, Kawooya stressed on dividing “the Collabrative Intellectual Property into formal and informal interactions.”

“Knowledge & Innovation in Africa: Scenarios for the Future,” discussed three possible scenarios for Africa’s future; “wireless engagement,” “informal is the new formal,” and “sincerely, Africa.” Both books are available for free download.

Shirin Elahi, Open A.I.R Scenarios consultant, illustrated that everyone creates future scenarios in their own heads.

“If I do this, this might happen. Whilst if I do this decision, the route is more likely to be that,” Elahi explained in the video. 

Open A.I.R. spent three years researching scenarios in Africa to better predict the population’s future. Its first draft of the report on these scenarios was revealed at a conference in Cape Town in 2012. 

“We hope that this research would be very useful in practice. We did not do this research so that it could sit on libraries’ shelves,” related de Beer, during an interview.

Open A.I.R. will also participate in next year's A2K4D Workshop at AUC, which will be held in June 2015, to summarize their latest findings and research. 

Below is a slideshow with all the tweets that were live tweeted during the session.

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