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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Scientific books gone wild –new methods for co-producing books & science knowledge

May 9, 2014 in Freedom to learn

Open Science Logo - Author: G.emmerich , under a cc attribution share-alike license. See http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Science_Logo_v2.jpg

Open Science Logo – Author: G.emmerich , under a cc attribution share-alike license. See http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Science_Logo_v2.jpg

Good news from re:publica 2014: Some scientists are moving from the “open access” paradigm (and battle) to the real paradigm shift (and real battle?):They now talk about “Books gone wild – how we write scientific books in an open, collaborative and continuous way”. In other words: they are moving from open access to open knowledge co-production. Two concrete books (and manuals, if you will) that have been built this way in Germany over the past year and that talk about dynamic publication formats and collaborative authoring, include:

  1. Opening Science – The Evolving Guide on How the Internet is Changing Research, Collaboration and Scholarly Publishing”, Available at http://book.openingscience.org/  and
  2. CoScience (in German), available at http://handbuch.io/

I see quite a potential for international cooperation and for development cooperation, when we get into the mode of co-producing up-to-date scientific information globally. Why? Because then we have the chance to get scientists and practitioners from developing countries to co-create relevant research instead of just “accessing” it (or not even that …). Therefore, I hope that this example will catch on and that we will see more scientific “books gone wild” in areas relevant to development (such as health, education, energy etc).

Yours, Balthas reporting from re:publica 2014. For more curated news on re:publica 2014 check my twitter timeline from 6. May to 8. May 2014  at https://twitter.com/b_seibold

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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.

Open African Innovation Research at GIZ’s innovation lounge at re:publica in Berlin

May 28, 2013 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source & Africa, Open Source IT business

republica-2013_copyright_re_publicare:publica is à priori a German blogger conference. Over the years it has however morphed into an international gathering of more than 5000 people from more than 50 countries with a common interest in the following themes: Digital business and innovation, social media, research & education in the Internet, campaigning, culture, media and ultimately, the “res publica”.

So re:publica 2013 was a good place to talk about the ‘Open African Innovation Research & Training Network’ and the upcoming ‘Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest’ and interwoven ‘Open A.I.R conference on open innovation and intellectual property’ in Cape Town from 9 to 13 December.

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The non-experts are the real experts – open innovation talk at re:publica

May 2, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

From DIY to 'Who hacks whom'? Author: Berishafjolla. Licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Virus.jpg

From DIY to ‘Who hacks whom’? Author: Berishafjolla. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Virus.jpg

So re:publica 2012 has started today. Not only with a call for freedom by Harvards Eben Moglen, but also with an interesting talk on ‘open innovation and the contribution of non-experts’ by Beth Kolko.

Here’s my summary of it: For Beth, non-experts have the skills to innovate, but lack the recognition and credentials by institutions. They are outsiders, but that also makes them great rule-breakers: think of them as both innovators and challengers of institutional experts: They form communities of disruptive technology, as they think outside the box. Plus, they are willing to embrace a re-mix approach, that is truely ‘open innovation’. Examples include hackers, builders, DIY-activists, functional engineers

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