Africa Must Embrace Design
Although Africa has several professional designers and unique creative designs, it has no exclusive policy that governs the design industry with a view of crystallising its role in manufacturing and industrialization. The continent's manufacturing industry often ignores local designs hence giving great advantage to foreign design ideas.
|Dr. Rudolph Beck's diagram |
Design has contributed immensely toward making man to meet his needs. The early man designed basic utility products that formed the basis of other discoveries as demand for change ensued. The modern man has studied design and understands that it is the efficient and effective creation and development of ideas through a process that leads to new products or services.
The initial processes of design involve generating concepts or ideas from imagination, observation or research. The middle stage calls for design solutions that meet user needs, concept development, form exploration, ergonomics, prototyping, materials, and technology. At this stage, production involves craft, creation, fabrication and manufacturing. The final stage involves selling the product. It is either client based (a client buys the design and manufactures it through mass production processes and then sells it to customers) or user based where the product is sold directly to the user by the designer.
To achieve designs which meet industrial productions, certain policies need to be established to govern design industry. Some of the policy proposals for how Africa should build design structures and achieve quick economic transformation are discussed below.
Professional design bodies should be formed to partner with government, so as to plan and implement of design policy. These private and government organisations will serve as national strategic bodies for design and will be made up of members representing the various design interests. The design body will:
* Increase application of regional ideas, creativity and technology for the purposes of enriching Africa as a producer but not a consumer of external design products.
* Undertake design awareness and effectiveness programmes within the country, or at regional and even abroad
* Be a platform for interaction with all stakeholders
* Undertake research and development in design
* Accredit design institutions to ensure quality standards of designs
* Develop and standardize design syllabi for all institutions imparting design education
* Conduct programmes for continuous evaluation and development of new design strategies
* Develop and implement quality systems through designs for enhancing Africa’s international competitiveness
* Collaborate with Governments to facilitate simplification of procedures and systems for registration and patenting of new designs
* Assist industries in Africa to engage the services of designers to improve their existing products and develop new product lines and services
* Encourage design and design-led exports of Africa’s products and services including outsourcing its design capabilities by other countries
* Take effective steps towards environment-friendly ideas for designs produced in Africa so that they have global acceptance
* Enable the designers in Africa to have access to global trends, markets and technology for product development and innovations through external trainings seminars and exchange programmes.
* Encourage close cooperation between academia and industry to produce proprietary design know-how while encouraging creation of new design-led enterprises for wealth creation
* Encourage and facilitate African culture for creating and protecting intellectual property in the area of designs
Design departments should be created in all arms of government to provide leadership that informs design policy making and implementation. Award schemes, respect of intellectual property rights and funding ought to be set up to encourage designers. Through the awards, it will be easy to recognise designs or designers who satisfy key design criteria like problem solving, originality, innovation, aesthetic appeal, user-centricity, ergonomic features, safety and eco-friendliness.
African governments should set up specialized design centres or innovation hubs for manufacturing sectors to enable rapid product development. It is necessary that design be included in all teaching syllabi to spur engineering design, machinery design, process design, design materials, environmental design, social and cultural related designs.
The interrelation between Communication, technology and industry as indicated by Dr. Rudolph Beck's diagram that illustrates the best scenario from which Africa should draw its strategy to industrialise, communicate, trade and develop. Overconcentration in one sector has created imbalance that causes slow paced industrial development in Africa. Countries like India and China which are realising fast economic and industrial growth have developed all necessary sectors to achieve their dreams. If Africa is to achieve its growth trajectory and industrialisation, ignoring design will be disastrous.
By Adams Namayi Wamukhuma,
Mr Namayi email@example.com is a Design Consultant.
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