What can Africa do for Europe? To judge from the new WDCD book What Africa Can Do for Europe, plenty. Showcasing 31 of the most creative individuals at work in Africa today, this little yellow gem of a book demonstrates that necessity really is the mother of invention.

The publication of the book coincides with the sixth edition of WDCD Live that kicks off today at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam. Africa is one of the themes of the conference, from the idea that with Europe facing so many identity issues right now it would be good to have a different perspective on the case from this other continent that so often is seen as one entity while in reality consisting of such a diversity of nations and peoples.

The book taps into this by presenting a somewhat random and by no means comprehensive selection of design projects from the African continent. Among the smart yet simple solutions featured are an early warning system to reduce the damage caused by slum fires (South Africa), an address system that gives even homeless people access to basic services (Kenya), and biochar briquettes that enable girls to attend school rather than search for firewood (Uganda).

A bit of Europe, Asia, and Africa

Some of the selected creatives have already made a splash internationally, among them fashion designer Selly Raby Kane from Senegal, whose influences are ‘a little bit of Europe, of Asia, of Africa’.

And then there’s the unconventional approach taken by other designers. ‘Having no formal training as an industrial designer,’ says artist and furniture designer Porky Hefer from South Africa, ‘I came in through the back door — a door without rules, with no rights and wrongs. A door that never included those standard handbook dimensions. The door I entered was filled with “why”, “why not” and “of course we fucking should”.’

If it works in Africa

What makes all these ideas worth our attention was summed up by creative entrepreneur Juliana Rotich from Kenya when she noted that “if it works in Africa, it’ll work everywhere”.

In addition to the 31 featured works, the book includes an overview of other great projects and sources of inspiration related to design in Africa.

Printed in a limited edition, the book goes on sale at WDCD Live in Amsterdam and will be available afterwards through our webshop for just 19.90 euro. Order now while stocks last.


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