Issue 01: Outside Influence

Publish Date: September 1, 2021

Outside Influence

What are the influences behind the products developed for Africans? Products sold on the continent are largely conceived and developed outside of the continent’s shores, which has led to bad products like air conditioners not adapted for fluctuating voltages.

More recently, the consumer market in Africa is being paid attention to and user needs are learnt to develop better products. TECNOs Design Lab spearheaded ethnographic work that improved the picture quality of black skin, among other examples. More and more, the manufactured products intended to be sold on the continent are the outcome of long collaborations between African entrepreneurs and overseas manufacturers. These collaborations are mutually beneficial and are flipping this outside’ influence on its head.

In this inaugural zine issue, we explore these relationships in detail. With contributions ranging from a photo essay on manufacturing relationships in Shenzhen to the growth of KaiOS-powered smartphones, the issue offers insight into the minds of product developers on the continent as they work on their hardware innovations.

Or purchase an electronic copy.


Good Products

The road to producing context-relevant products


Side by Side: Tech Collaborations in Shenzhen

Seyram Avle

An ethnographer’s take on the relationships behind manufacturing success


Quality Assurance

Ashley Okwuosa

How medical device inventors are grappling with unclear local standards

Of Men & Modems

Wiza Jalakasi

KaiOS and a glimpse of the future for African devs

The Prize Economy

Chuma Asuzu

Due to a lack of startup funding, hardware startups use prizes for prototype funding


Addressing local problems from a world away

Q&A with Olugbenga Olubanjo

Developing a battery rental service for African communities


A Woodworking CNC Lathe

Bukunmi Oyedapo

Need to make Barley Twists on furniture? Here’s how to.