Why Africa needs a local 3D printing industry and an ‘appropriate tech maker movement’ – Interview with Roy Mwangi Ombatti at re:publica 2015

May 26, 2015 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source & Africa

Roy Mwangi Ombatti builds a 3D printer from waste materials at re:publica 2015

Roy Mwangi Ombatti builds a 3D printer from waste materials at re:publica 2015

Roy Mwangi Ombatti  started to tinker with 3D-printing in Nairobi, Kenya more than three years ago. He co-founded and led the Nairobi FabLab Robotics Outreach Program, he produces 3D printers from waste materials, became a Stanford Fablearn Fellow 2014 and he developed a successful low-cost solution to a pressing health problem (his project ‘Happy Feet’ aims at providing bespoke shoes for people with foot deformities as a result of the jigger sand flea in Kenya). I talked to him at re:publica 2015 about his future plans, the role of open source and open innovation and why Africa needs a local 3D printing industry.

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Q: Roy, you just had a workhop on “Motors, Circuits, Value Chains – Building a 3D Printer with E-Waste” here at re:publica 15.  Why is it important for Kenya, or for Africa at large to develop such a local 3D printing industry?

Roy: I am passionate about bringing technology to the less fortunate in my country to solve pressing problems.  I feel that local self-made technology is the thing that has most impact. For one, it is most easily adaptable to local circumstance, as shows for instance my approach of using available e-waste to build the printer. Also, such self-help in innovation is a perfect tool to promote real change: If you empower people to build their own tools to solve their own problems, you win. In fact, this might be the only way to have sustainable lasting impact.

 

Q: You are in the last stages of producing a 3D-printer out of locally available electronic waste. When will it be ready?

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How to make money the open-source-way, but keep the commons alive? – Question 7 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

March 16, 2015 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Open innovation – often based on open licensing and commons-approaches – is changing the business models of more and more businesses and social institutions. Before the advent of open innovation, innovation was kept within the boundaries of the firm (or research institution). In contrast, “Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to markets, as the firms look to advance their technology”, scholar Henry Chesbrough, who coined the term open innovation, has put it. But what opportunities does this imply for institutions in developing countries? What are their learning opportunities?

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Let’s take a look again at the global tech sector as a starting point (for more details, see Seibold 2010a). Here, the most prominent example of free and open source software development and licensing are the operating system Linux, the office suite Open Office and the web browser Firefox. Linux has shown that open-source programs can be very competitive. The reason is obvious: more people know the source code and, accordingly, can correct flaws and make other improvements.

For the private sector in developing countries, such knowledge commons provide a clear opportunity, not only for low-cost access to global state-of-the-art knowledge, technology transfer, and open peer-learning on a massive scale (see Seibold 2009, Seibold 2010a, Seibold 2010b; UNCTAD 2012: 9ff), but also because they have the potential to empower local businesses and communities in developing countries. This creates truly local open innovation by appropriating elements of outside open innovations and transforming them into a product or service that is relevant to local needs.

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„Amorphous action communities for commons-based peer production“ – some thoughts on networking in the future

November 1, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

seibold_future of global networking for international cooperationYesterday, I tried to put the future of „global networking for international cooperation“ in one slide –  looking five to ten years ahead. My first problem was to find a name for the future. I ended up with „Amorphous action communities for open innovation and [commons-based] peer production (globally connected, innovating locally)“.

Then, I outlined some of intermediate steps in networking such as „Open networks of trust“ and „Communities of Practice“, which we are already seeing popping up. My final guess was on some of the driving forces, that will lead us from today’s networks all the way to the „amorphous action communities“.

So here’s the picture, with the steps and the driving forces:

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Tackling global problems by pooling knowledge – highlights of the first international conference on the knowledge commons

September 14, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Source: A. Diez Herrero | Flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 siehe http://www.flickr.com/photos/21572939@N03/2090542246/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Source: A. Diez Herrero | Flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 siehe http://www.flickr.com/photos/21572939@N03/2090542246/sizes/m/in/photostream/

What do the problems of climate change, global access to affordable medicine and software, food security, and crop availability for poor farmers have in common?

In all of these fields, more and more people are looking at how a collective building and owning of key knowledge can help solve protracted global problems. A global core of these people just met in a tiny Belgium university town at the at the „First International Thematic Conference on the Knowledge commons“. (for more on the term, see wikipedias Knowlegde commons entry”).

It is quite tough for me to sum up such an endeavor. I will still try and do so by picking some issues related to my own main interests, mainly „global knowledge cooperation“ and „harnessing the knowledge commons for open innovation“. I will complement that with a totally non-exhaustive and personal „list of quick links“ on how to save the climate, solve the food crisis, fight pandemics and increase food security with commons approaches.

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Homegrown advancements drive Africa’s tech revolution: TV show on Africa’s (open) innovation drive

March 23, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source & Africa

Just found an interesting TV show on “African Innovation” aired by Al Jazeera three days ago.  They make several points e.g: ” Across Africa, developers and programmers are coming up with new technologies from mobile banking to mapping software and medical tablets to cloud storage. Now the continent is increasingly relying on its own homegrown innovations.”

In the show, Eric Osiakwan, director of the African Internet Service Providers Association, and Juliana Rotich (@afromusing), co-founder and executive director of Ushahidi provide their insights on many issues around African innovation. Check e.g. Minute 34:10 for good points on “informal open innovation”, “Open Spaces as second university”, Open Source as a driving force for Africa and more.

Heres the show: http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/african-innovations-0022111

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Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.

ict@innovation programme moves to West Africa: Balthas Seibold opens training in Abuja, Nigeria

October 24, 2011 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source & Africa, Open Source IT business

zen_ict_new_logo“Free your IT Business in WEST Africa!” This was the motto of the first Training-of-Trainers of ict@innovation held in the West African region. Balthas Seibold and his colleagues Petra Hagemann & George Nyambuya officially welcomed more than 26 FOSS experts from Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal, who engaged in 10 intense days of peer-discussions and peer-learning. The training was held in Nigeria’s capital town Abuja and featured senior FOSS experts from all over Africa as facilitators. More on the event is online on ict@innovation, including the presentation held by Balthas Seibold, see the ict@innovation blog entries on West African capacity building action.

Just published: “Unleashing Open Innovation Systems”

September 9, 2010 in Freedom to innovate, News on publications, Open Source IT business

copyright of cover: GIZ

copyright of cover: GIZ

The working group on ‘Promoting Innovation Systems’ of Germany’s development cooperation just published a documentation on “Strengthening Innovation Systems in the Context of Development Cooperation”. An article by Balthas Seibold gives an overview of the potential of open innovation for developing countries. Taking the capacity building programme commons@ip as an example, the paper enumerates important impact indicators, which demonstrate, how a move towards open innovation in developing countries might positively influence innovation systems. Read the article “Unleashing Open Innovation Systems” in the documentation (page 87 to 92) available as a pdf-download at the publications section of this website. For more information on the InWEnt programme commons@ip, please check the InWEnt Train for Trade Portal.

Regional Alumni Conference in Southeast Asia discusses Open Source for Healthcare, other topics

July 2, 2010 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source & Asia, Open Source IT business

balthas_Hanoi_2010_300_220So this is me at InWEnt’s first regional Alumni Conference for Southeast Asia in Hanoi, Vietnam. At the conference, I was acting as a moderator of a Workshop on “open source for healthcare” (Link now to latest version of page on the Internet Archive. Here’s a gist of the workshop as summarized back then: Free and open source software (FOSS) offers tremendous advantages to the health sector of developing countries. The session “FOSS in healthcare” at InWEnt’s 1st Interdisciplinary Alumni Conference Southeast Asia in Hanoi in July 2010 discussed these advantages. The session also offered hands-on opportunities to test drive actual FOSS electronic health records and eHealth applications in Southeast Asia. It drew on experiences by the “International Open Source Network” (IOSN) in ASEAN as a main partner in the InWEnt programme “it@foss – Promoting Free and Open Source Software in Southeast Asia” (2005-2009). Based on this, the session explored opportunities for further network building and capacity building in ASEAN in the area of “FOSS in healthcare” to strenghten open health systems as part of a regional integration framework in Southeast Asia. For the outcomes of the session, see here in section “Outcomes of the Workgroup IX”.

Talk on open innovation & book launch of “Free your IT-business in Africa” at Africa’s FOSS gathering “Idlelo 4”

May 21, 2010 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source & Africa, Open Source IT business

idlelo4This biennium’s Idlelo (four) conference on Open Source and the Digital Commons in Africa organized by FOSSFA had the theme of “Development with ownership” and took place in Accra, Ghana from 17.04-21.04. Balthas Seibold was there to launch with FOSSFA a training book resulting of the joint regional capacity building programme “ict@innovation – creating business and learning opportunities in Free and Open Source Software”. The guide with the title “ict@innovation: Free your IT-Business in Africa!” compiles advanced training materials on African FOSS business models for small and medium enterprises in the IT-industry and brings together a wealth of examples and case studies of FOSS entrepreneurs from all across the African continent plus model presentations, assessment tests, exercises and assignments. Free download is available on the ict@innovation site. Balthas was also speaking on Idlelo’s panel on “Standards, Patents and Copyrights”, where he presented thoughts on the knowledge commons and copyleft licensing for open innovation (see agenda and news below). More information on ict@innovation is available at the the Africa and Open Source section of this website.

Silang – the Philippines: Asia Source 3 Meeting Reinforces Asian Free and Open Source Software Movement

November 13, 2009 in Open Source & Asia, Open Source IT business

Copyright of logo: with Asia Source 3 Organizers (IOSN Asean+3)

While most technology conferences happen as swanky, slick, and well-rehearsed events, the recently concluded Asia Source 3 took the opposite track and ran a camp that was spartan yet spontaneous. From November 7 to 12, 2009, Asia Source 3 gathered 150 representatives from Southeast Asia to discuss developments in open source. For those six days, the campers lived in a communal environment that married fun and relaxation with exchange of ideas. “We are honored to be part of this movement through our training and network program it@foss” said Balthas Seibold, Senior Project Manager of InWEnt. Asia Source 3 marked the official highlight of five years of regional FOSS support by InWEnt in Southeast Asia. InWEnt has trained and connected more than 1000 experts from Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines in more than 30 training courses under its it@foss program.

Check more about Asia Source III at http://www.asiasource3.net, meet Balthas at the online community of AS3, check the programme at the Camp Wiki, including an afternoon track session of Balthas Seibold on “From Open Source to Open Innovation / a brainstorming on open-everything”. Or learn more about InWEnt’s work in Asia.

Johannesburg: Balthas Seibold opens first regional course on Business and Open Source in South Africa

July 14, 2009 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source & Africa, Open Source IT business

zen_ict_new_logoHow can Southern African IT-businesses make money with Free and Open Source Software? – this one of the questions discussed at the regional course on “Advanced African Business Models with Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)“. The two-week event started on July 13 at University of Witwatersrand, (Wits) in Johannesburg and is the first in a series of training-of-trainer (ToT) events in Southern and East Africa related to the programme “ict@innovation – – Creating Business and Learning Opportunities with Free and Open Source Software in Africa”. More on the course is online at the ict@innovation website, more on the programme, FOSS and Balthas’ work in Africa is in the section InWEnt: Africa & Open Source.

Open Everything Berlin! Taking part in a global conversation about the art, science and spirit of ‘open’

December 6, 2008 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source IT business

Open Everything is a global conversation about the art, science and spirit of ‘open’. It gathers people using openness to create and improve software, education, media, philanthropy, architecture, neighbourhoods, workplaces and the society we live in: everything. It’s about thinking, doing and being open. Balthas Seibold took part in this global conversation at the 6th event taking place in Berlin. He spoke about “Open Development Cooperation through Capacity Building in Free and Open Source Software?”. The session discussed, how/if the principles of openness are resonating with some key principles of Development Cooperation in general and capacity-building support to initiatives in “Free and Open Source Software” in Asia in Africa in particular. More information: the presentation of Balthas Seibold / the Open Everything website / the Open Everything Berlin Wiki.

Drive for change! Balthas Seibold opens FOSS Bridge EU-Vietnam conferences in Hanoi

November 14, 2008 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source & Asia, Open Source IT business

FOSS Bridge logoMore than 80 IT experts gathered on 14 November 2008 at “Drive for change”, a conference on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) held at Horison Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam. Carried out as part of the FOSS-Bridge EU-Vietnam initiative, the event was organized by InWEnt of Germany, INRIA of France, and the Institute of Information and Technology of Vietnam.

2009-2010 / Balthas Seibold presents at the first FOSS Bridge "EU-Vietnam" onference in Hanoi, Vietnam / Photo: Mario Behling for FOSS Bridge EU-Vietnam / CC-Licence, see source

2009-2010 / Balthas Seibold presents at the first FOSS Bridge “EU-Vietnam” onference in Hanoi, Vietnam / Photo: Mario Behling for FOSS Bridge EU-Vietnam / CC-Licence, see source at https://secure.flickr.com/photos/fossbridge/2013873411/

“FOSS is about connecting people and businesses through knowledge. We are therefore most pleased to see that more and more players in Vietnam cross the bridge towards free and open source software”, stated organizers Vu The Binh of IOIT and Balthas Seibold of InWEnt. The conference was the culminating point of the initiative FOSS-Bridge EU-Vietnam, which has been promoting Southeast Asian software industries and cooperation with Europe through innovative collaboration on FOSS and business development since 2006.

Overall, the programme has brought together more than 50 IT-companies from Vietnam and Europe for matchmaking and twinning, and about 100 FOSS companies and organizations are registered in the online network at www.foss-bridge.org. FOSS Bridge EU-Vietnam has successfully prepared more than 20 Vietnamese IT-intermediaries and IT-SMEs to spread key knowledge on how to make business based on FOSS. More information: on the conference “Drive for change” / on FOSS Bridge EU-Vietnam in general / on previous key events such as the “High-Level Workshop on Open Source Requirements” (April 2008) and the “Second matchmaking, training and twinning workshop for European and Vietnamese FOSS businesses” (June 2008) / article on website of European commission.

Release of advanced e-learning courses on “Open Source & More IT for African Business”

September 1, 2008 in News on publications, Open Source & Africa, Open Source IT business

InWEnt/it@ab releases a series of advanced e-learning courses on Information Technology (IT)- “Open Source & More IT for African Business” focussing on the needs of business related IT consultancy in Africa. The courses introduce relevant and adapted key concepts and applications such as E-Business Applications & Architecture / IT Security / Open Source IT (including lessons on Ubuntu Linux Installation, Multimedia, Web Server, Groupware, Network Printing) / Web Publishing / E-Learning as well as /Zope & the Collaborative Learning Environment CLE2. In the spirit of sharing and mutual capacity-building, this series of e-learning courses is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike licence. We are therefore looking forward to seeing further distribution, remixing and updating of the courses that make up “Open Source & more IT for African Business”. The editing team included Benjamin Coester, Petra Hagemann, Balthas Seibold, Christiane Weber, and Kerstin Nolte . Test your IT-knowledge! Check the courses online (Update: since 2011 hosted on GIZ’s E-Academy).

Education for a free information society! Balthas Seibold on panel on “Free software & business models for IT companies”

August 17, 2008 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source & Africa, Open Source IT business

SELF_logoHow can sustainable business models in Free Software grow local IT companies in Africa and worldwide? This was one of the main topics of an international panel discussion at the international conference “Free Knowledge Free Technology – Education for a free information society ” held in Barcelona, Spain from July 15 to July 17 2008. Balthas Seibold spoke about Sustainability in Development Cooperation and FOSS, emerging FOSS business models in Africa, Strategies for FOSS Market Segments as well as the future of FOSS Business Models in developing countries. During an intensive three day period, participants from the Philippines, Mexico, Tanzania, Germany, USA, and many other countries around the world, not excluding Spain itself, gathered around the Free Knowledge, Free Technology conference in Barcelona. The conference, organised by the SELF Project, focused on the production and sharing of free educational and training materials about the concept of Free Software. More information: Article on the conference / presentation of Balthas Seibold at the panel discussion on “Free software and business models for IT companies” / website of the conference SELF and the panel.