NSF: "INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY ENTREPRENEURSHIP CULTURES BETWEEN GHANA, SOUTH CHINA, AND SILICON VALLEY"
PI: Silvia Lindtner
Co-PI: Seyram Avle
In recent years, Chinese technology design, production models and distribution chains have made their way into the technology market across sub-Saharan Africa. In Ghana, various kinds of Chinese-made information technology devices sit next to Silicon Valley-made ones, while local technologists develop software to function on both kinds. Tech startups test out apps on high-end phones like the iPhone and Huawei, midrange types like Tecno, and no-name/no-brand devices. In marketplaces, traders have become adept repairers of a wide range of low to mid tech/cost devices imported from Shenzhen, a manufacturing city in southern China. In Shenzhen, several hardware companies now design exclusively for the African market. All the while, Silicon Valley companies are scouting for startups to acquire across these regions.
In both the high-end spaces of technology production and in the street-side low-tech stalls, technology entrepreneurs combine a range of tech skills and business acumen across borders to design, acquire, modify and distribute information technologies. All of these developments speak to a larger and currently unfolding transformation of where and how technology design and innovation takes place.
The proposed research will investigate contemporary social and technological processes that connect in new ways across Accra (Ghana), Shenzhen (China), and Silicon Valley (USA). The underlying goal is to identify how circulating concepts in tech entrepreneurship and innovation like start-up culture, design thinking, and Internet of Things shape both local strategies and transnational relations of technology production.