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Technology, scaling and inclusion in Africa

Africa is increasingly becoming a hotbed of innovation. Between a growing number of tech hubs, a burgeoning maker’s movement, and even increasingly connected Indigenous communities, the seed of innovation in Africa has been planted. However, many challenges remain, including how to scale up locally developed innovations and ensure that their social and economic benefits are shared inclusively.

For instance, although women and men are equal in their innovative abilities, women must overcome systemic barriers to protect and adopt women-led innovations. Innovation policies not only ignore the disproportionate effects that laws, policies, and practices have on women, but also project male-dominated perspectives on ownership and compensation. Innovation policies are, unfortunately, even less likely to consider the perspectives of groups marginalized by multiple factors, such as poor, racialized women in developing countries.

This project, implemented in collaboration with the University of Cape Town, South Africa, will research how Africa’s high-tech hubs are facilitating the adaptation and adoption of emerging technologies in Africa, including artificial intelligence; how maker communities facilitate inclusive innovation, especially by empowering women and girls and benefitting members of marginalized groups; and how to build confidence in Indigenous populations to effectively participate in collaborative knowledge production with optimal and equitable benefits.

It will focus particularly on building the research network footprint in Francophone Africa, and explore innovations that contribute to greater gender equality. Building on in-depth knowledge of how African innovations are emerging, the new phase of the project will aim to inform science, technology, and innovation policies and implementation in African countries.

Project ID
Project Status
30 months
IDRC Officer
Katie Clancy
Total Funding
CA$ 749,500.00
Education and Science
Education and Science
Networked Economies
Institution Country
South Africa
Project Leader
Associate Professor Tobias Schönwetter
University of Cape Town