Category Archives: Analysis

Looking back at 2020 from Mama Mboga’s eyes: The Pandemic as Natural Disaster

I am moved today by my work to look back at this agonizingly long year of separations and losses and delays for peoples around the world. Uncertainty and complexity have both increased, and economic volatility has become the order of the day, regardless of the development status of the region or location. More people in […]

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Design Thinking for the post pandemic era

Design must change if we’re to meet the targets for the climate change goals. And, not only must design transform itself to be utilitarian for the needs of the novel ways of making, doing, being, that are emerging as an outcome of the global pandemic shock, but at the same time these new systems must […]

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The Global System’s Fulcrum has Changed in Location and Trajectory

Where, the innovation flowed outwards from age old centers of world system changing such as the Bay Area of the US Pacific Coastline or more recently, in the first visible shift this century, from the Pearl River Delta region of mainland China, now has shifted its locus of pivoting the levers of the system into […]

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Coronavirus side-effect: Transformation of China’s business models, logistics, and service delivery

Just the way the SARs epidemic kicked off China’s e-commerce revolution back in 2003, the ongoing COVID-19 containment strategies maybe triggering an even larger transformation of the Chinese economic ecosystem. I went looking today for the earliest signals of what might be underway. Rural China is facing the biggest challenge right now as the spring […]

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Value Webs: Structure and Characteristics of the African Market Economy

When these markets are analyzed, moreover, they turn out to have a structure very unlike those of the West. ~ The End of Corporate Imperialism by CK Prahalad and Kenneth Lieberthal, HBR “Best of 1998″ When Prahalad and Lieberthal wrote this sentence over twenty years ago, they were referring to the huge consumer markets of […]

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Less Technologically Advanced Societies are not necessarily backward or primitive: Assume at your own risk

This illustration by Jeroen Meijer of Jam Visueldenken of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, was created for our team during a workshop to capture the insights from a feasibility study on agritech we had completed for the Dutch government’s sustainable agricultural value chain development at Wageningen University’s Economic Research unit back in mid 2013. I’m pulling it […]

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The Research – Practice Gap for African Startups

There is very little literature on business operations management, and product development methodology  that actually helps African SMEs and startups to navigate their own operating environment with its local characteristics. Analysts struggle with frameworks and processes developed in highly industrialized contexts as a means to evaluate the strategies of businesses and solutions with local or […]

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While you were out: 15 years later

The locus of Industrial Design and Manufactured Product Development has shifted halfway across the world to Asia – South Korea, China, India, the ASEAN. Wherever there is manufacturing and industries, there will be the necessary critical mass of skills, experience, and knowledge for industrial design to flourish. In December 2004, I wrote an article for […]

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The legacy of Uber’s business model and app will outlive the company in Africa

As news of Uber’s possible decline and fall filters in, it behooves me to take a moment to ponder the implications for sub Saharan Africa’s digital economic ecosystem, particularly the decentralized hybrid one emerging among the erstwhile informal sectors of the economy, such as motorcycle taxis and other on demand services. While Uber itself has […]

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The Perfect Storm: A Continent, A Phone, A Business Model

In the mid 1990s, in a small city in northern Finland, engineers and designers began work on the product development of a mobile phone that would eventually become one of the best selling Nokia models ever – the 3310, released in Europe and the Far East in the year 2000. The continent of Africa was […]

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