While the ICT space has developed a head of steam in some parts of Africa, a “maker philosophy” is yet to occur. [It is imperative that the educated do not perceive technology as what appears before them on a computer screen]. The aim of a Maker Faire-like event is to create a space on the continent where Afrigadget-type innovations, inventions and initiatives can be sought, identified, brought to life, supported, amplified, propagated, etc.
Maker Faire Africa asks the question, “What happens when you put the drivers of ingenious concepts from Mali with those from Ghana and Kenya, and add resources to the mix?”
Maker Faire Africa will engage on-the-ground breakthrough organizations like Ashesi University and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to sharpen focus on locally-generated, bottom-up prototypes of technologies that solve immediate challenges to development. Specifically, Maker Faire Africa will take an approach that will achieve three principal aims:
- Brighten the light on local examples of the “fabrication” ethos
- Provide mechanisms to incubate these innovators and their products to a point where they can be taken to market
- Connect refined plans to disseminate innovations with venture finance
The aim is to identify, spur and support local innovation. At the same time, Maker Faire Africa would seek to imbue creative types in science and technology with an appreciation of fabrication and by default manufacturing. The long-term interest here is to cultivate an endogenous manufacturing base that supplies innovative products in response to market needs.
When discussions of wealth creation and poverty reduction are made in reference to the continent, for a variety of reasons manufacturing is left off the table. This is partly the fault of education and or orientation. Making fabrication the next “big thing” in a sense could go some way in changing these attitudes. Manufacture – literally, fabrication by hand – is exciting, and exists across the continent of Africa, and is abundant – from centers sited at dumps, where scrap metals are abundant, to more formal collections of mechanics and repairers who have set up shop in the urban core. Much of this curiosity, talent, and entrepreneurial spirit in manufacturing remains trapped in the in