Industry Panel


Title: Exploring the Potential for Participatory Design in Africa

A central concern of PDC has been to understand how research, design, and development practices can be supported through the participation of the people who benefit from and are affected by technology-enabled innovations. This year’s PDC in Windhoek, Namibia provides the context for a panel discussion focused on opportunities and challenges for adopting participatory approaches that situate technology-enabled innovations in Africa’s distinct and varied locales. Many technology organizations recently have established research, design, and development centers in Africa and have initiated projects with the desire to engage the talent and imaginative futures of this diverse region. This panel brings together researchers and practitioners working in Africa who are helping to direct their organizations efforts to locate the “center of design” in the settings and milieu where they work. Panelist will offer their perspectives on what it has meant for them and their organization to situate research, design, and development in Africa with a focus on their efforts to integrate participatory approaches. In addition they will discuss how to strengthen ties among their organizations, academic researchers, and institutions that are committed to participatory design and development to address the particular challenges of the African region.


DK Osseo-Asare is principal and co-founder of Low Design Office (LOWDO), an architecture studio based in San Antonio, Texas and Tema, Ghana. He is a Fulbright Scholar, TED Global Fellow, Design Fellow at the Kokrobitey Institute and teaches design at Ashesi University. DK received an A.B. in Engineering Design and an M.Arch from Harvard University for work in kinetic systems and network power. His research spans design innovation, open-source urbanism, architecture robots, digital fabrication and the informal sector. Recently, he led urban design for the Anam City and Koumbi new town projects in Nigeria and Ghana, and is co-founder of the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP), winner of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Centennial Innovation Challenge award.

Charity Wayua was born and brought up in several different towns in Kenya. She obtained her Bachelors’ degree in Chemistry and minors in Business and Gender and Diversity Studies from Xavier University, (Ohio, US)
Following her graduation from Xavier she attended Purdue University (West Lafayette Indiana, US) where she pursued her PhD in Chemistry. At Purdue, her research was focused on developing targeted therapeutics and imaging agents for lung, pancreatic and colon cancers. After graduation in 2012, she moved back to Kenya and is currently working as a research scientist at IBM Research Africa (Nairobi). At IBM her work has mainly focused on developing commercially viable innovations that impact people’s lives in the Education space and in development of cognitive solutions that target consumers.

Juha Miettinen, Chief Technical Advisor and Team Leader of Southern Africa Innovation Support (SAIS) Programme, has over 15 years of experience in innovation systems development and innovation support, technology transfer, business development and methods in public-private collaboration regionally, nationally and internationally. Before joining SAIS, as a COO in the one of the leading innovation and science park companies in Finland, Hermia Ltd, and as in his own daily management work, he has earned wide experience and practical knowledge on Finnish and European innovation systems and methods. He has wide experience in project management and has also been member of supervisory and steering boards of tens of innovation and development initiatives, programmes and projects throughout his carrier. Before joining Hermia, he has worked for some ten years in financing and ICT sectors. Mr. Miettinen holds a M.Sc. in Economics from University of Tampere, Finland and University of Oregon, US. He is finalising his PhD-work on the topic related to innovation intermediaries at Tampere University of Technology, Finland.

Ayorkor Korsah, is a co-founder of the African Robotics Network (AFRON) and a leader in using robotics to inspire African high school students through the Ashesi Robotics program(AR/X). She has a Ph.D. in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence from Carnegie Mellon University and was recipient of a 2013 Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award (TDIA). Dr. Korsah previously was honored with an Ideas 2012 Award as one of three Ghanaian Achievers during the Festival of Ideas 2012 event held in Accra in August. The Ideas Award is given to Ghanaians under 40 who have invested significantly in a project or organisation that enriches the lives of Ghanaians.


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