AfriDesignX: Design Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa

Nkiruka Oparah, 2014

AfriDesignX: Design Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa is a network of pioneering technologists, curators and scholars from Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa and the UK to discuss developments in digital design – robotics, gaming and computer imaging – on the African continent.

We tend to think about our world’s future as being discovered in the high-tech laboratories in America, or debated in elite business and political forums held in the Alps - but less often in the West, do we think about our future as being designed by local tech communities in SSA.

In what is being called a ‘transformative Digital Revolution’, Africa now hosts one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the world (the East African ‘Silicon Savannah’), a Pan-African robotics network (AFRON), burgeoning space programmes and a proliferation of digital innovation hubs.

This network investigates new design typologies emerging from the African continent, their sites of production and the means by which they can be communicated and displayed both within Africa and Europe.

Activity to date

Launch event and Symposium: London College of Fashion (London, UK)

The AfriDesignX international network was officially launched on 28th November 2015 when we held a public symposium exploring design from post-western perspectives.

V&A roundtable (London, UK)

A roundtable discussion with leading academics and curators including V&A Deputy Director Beth McKillop to discuss the V&A’s current and future collecting aims for African design.

Afrobots Exhibition as part of the World Economic Form on Africa 2016 (Kigali, Rwanda)

An exhibition curated by Cher Potter that brought together rarely seen robotic samples from across the African continent.

‘Ashesi Sessions’ Design Symposium (Accra, Ghana)

Run in collaboration with Ashesi University College Ghana, the event featured speakers including Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu (NASA, Mars Mission Lead Engineer), Ayorkor Korsah (Founder, African Robotics Network), Solomon King Benge (Founder, Ugandan Fundi Bots) and Sénamé Koffi Agbodjinou (Founder, Togo Woelab).

AfriDesignX Designing for Wicked Problems Challenge (Accra, Ghana)

A one-day design challenge at Ashesi University College for young design, engineering and computer science students across Ghana.

Oxford Round Table (Oxford, UK)

A collaboration between Oxford University, Pitt Rivers Museum and London College of Fashion to provoke discussion around the meeting points between design studies and ethnographic research methods.

Future events

Nairobi Sessions 2017: ‘AFRICAN DESIGN AND DIGITAL STORYTELLING’ (Nairobi, Kenya)

A conference hosted and supported by the University of Nairobi in September 2017 that will explore the stories embedded within design, with particular reference to the Kenyan and larger African context.

Documents

Principal Research Investigator

Cher Potter LCF/V&A Joint Senior Research Fellow

Project partners