It is a well known fact that corruption affects potential innovation negatively. A few weeks ago I blogged about the negative impacts of online censorship on innovation. Today I would like to address another corruption-related issue. According to an article on, in many African countries the artisanal sector is dominated by logging companies who operate illegally and without regulatory guidelines. In doing so, not only do these companies damage the environment, but they also force many individuals to work illegally.

Although regulatory efforts have been made, for example by the EU’s Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade, little progress has been made. Nevertheless, it is of vital importance to fight corruption and illegal business in the timber industries. As the author sums up nicely:

“By bringing the hundreds of thousands of individuals working in this industry into the formal sector, Africa’s timber industries and companies will stand to benefit from increased transparency, equal opportunity and sustainability.” (Source:

The article provides an overview on how to increase transparency in the timber sectors in these countries.

Firstly, African governments and trade organisations must team up with international organisations to ensure that trade policies apply to all producers. It is only by doing so, that a well-functioning policy framework can be created.
Secondly, governments must provide incentives for sustainable forestry and encourage innovation within the timber industries.
Thirdly, urban manufacturing and creative movements must be encouraged to innovate:

“In the innovation space, I would look forward to exploring ways that urban manufacturing and creative movements such as the Maker Movement, Fiction Factory and Angola’s new social incubator, Fábrica de Sabão, can play a role in jump-starting a new timber innovation ecosystem for rural communities. Sharing know-how and technologies such as 3D printing and computer numerical control (CNC) machining with smallholders or even youth communities can help to unlock creative potential, drive innovation, and launch new joint ventures in urban manufacturing and design thus giving rise to a new breed of artisanal timber entrepreneurs at a grassroots level.”(Source:

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