In Accra, Ghana
Sponsors and supports continue to join as the excitement builds around Maker Faire Africa (MFA) later this week. Held August 14 – 16 in Accra, Ghana, MFA will bring together ingenuity and invention from across the continent. Focused on 4 key innovation areas, MFA is poised to show the world a different face of Africa, where partnership, creativity, and innovation come together to create products and designs that can be used around the world.
“Maker Faire Africa aims to stoke the fires of innovation, catalyze the seeds of ingenuity, and amplify the pace of invention, wonder and curiosity amongst the young and young at heart,” said Emeka Okafor organizer of MFA and director of TEDAfrica. “We intend to dial back the negative reinforcement that pervades the continent in matters of career choice and conformity and will give center stage to the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things.”
A key part of MFA is the support they have received from sponsors around the globe. Through their support and vision MFA will deliver on the promise of premier event in Africa. “By sponsoring and co-organising the Maker Fair Africa we are helping to showcase role model makers and put the spotlight on innovation as the way forward for Africa,” said Emer Beamer head of Butterfly Works Learning Lab. “These Makers are the people who build the future and in all Butterfly Works projects, our goal is to enable and support this creativity every step of the way.” Sponsors include:
American Society of Mechanical Engineers – founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, today’s ASME promotes the art, science & practice of mechanical & multidisciplinary engineering and allied sciences around the globe.
AndSpace Labs – founded by Andspace Consulting, AndSpace Labs collaborates with the public to co-create tools, perspectives, and relationships to help society meet the challenges of tomorrow using foresight and design thinking.
BusyInternet – founded in Ghana in 2001 with a unique mission to provide both commercial services as well as social and economic development with a range of events, training, debates, as well as a growing community of IT entrepreneurs.
Butterfly Works – an inspiration-driven social solution and design agency. The products and services of Butterfly Works range from consumer social product design and distribution to digital and mobile educational materials and learning environments.
ecoband – provides comprehensive, flexible and cost effective satellite and fiber optic-based solutions for Internet backbone connectivity as well as broadband wireless last-mile solutions. For the ECOWAS countries of West Africa.
The International Development Design Summit – MIT’s IDDS is a month-long collaboration that brings together people from around the globe to build technologies for communities in the developing world. The program is the brainchild of MIT Senior Lecturer and D-Lab founder Amy Smith, a past winner of the MacArthur “genius” grant.
Internet Research – a private research enterprise incorporated in the Republic of Ghana focusing on engineering, consulting and education in the area of Information Communication Technology (ICT)
Inveneo – a non-profit social enterprise whose mission is to get tools of information and communications technology (ICT) – computing, Internet access, and telephony – to the more than 2 billion people living in rural and underserved areas of the developing world.
Moving Windmills – based on the award-winning short film of the same name, Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba Story is a feature-length documentary that shares the touching tale of a boy whose imagination and ingenuity inspired a family, a village and a nation.
Mozilla – The Mozilla project is a global community of people who believe that openness, innovation, and opportunity are key to the continued health of the Internet. We have worked together since 1998 to ensure that the Internet is developed in a way that benefits everyone.
MFA has also attracted a host of industry thought leaders, bloggers and news organizations who are dedicated to building the future of Africa including Amy Smith, Founder of MIT’s D-Lab, Africa News, AshokaTech, Emeka Okafor of TEDAfrica and Timbuktu Chronicles, Erik Hersman of Afrigadget, Global Development Commons, Henry Barnor of Afrobotics, Mark Grimes, founder of Ned.com, Nii Simmonds of Nubian Cheetah, Next Billion, and TechBridgeWorld,
“This is long overdue and I am thrilled to see an African event based on innovative solutions to problems developed by local participants,“ said Grimes. “Maker Faire Africa represents the best of grassroots efforts, localization, innovation, and ingenuity when it comes to the continent by focusing on its own unique challenges and tremendous opportunities.”
For more information about MFA visit www.makerfaireafrica.com
Emeka Okafor or
Thanks to the generosity of an MFA supporter, Kenyan inventor Dominic Wanjihia will be attending Maker Faire Africa. Dominic, who first came to the anonymous donor’s attention through an article published on AfriGadget in 2008, describes himself as, “an inventor of appropriate technology, environmentally friendly gadgets applicable to … the empowerment of rural people.” Among his inventions are:
- The Malaria Integrated Vector Management (IVM) Disc
- An evaporative cooler
- A solar food dryer
- A food smoker for meat and fish
- A shallow well – deep well water pump
- An eco-friendly pest exterminator, mainly for moles and termites
We’re looking forward to meeting Dominic in August and expect that he will benefit greatly from the opportunity to interact with other appropriate technology inventors like Amy Smith of the International Development Design Summit.
A young Malawian built a windmill from scratch to help power the lights in his rural home, his name is William Kamkwamba.
We’re very excited to announce that William Kamkwamba, sponsored by his organization Moving Windmills, will be coming to Maker Faire Africa. I first met William at TED Africa two years ago in Arusha, Tanzania. His story, at that time, was only known by a few of us as we had written about him on AfriGadget – but that quickly changed when he got up on the TED stage for his interview.
Last week he was on the TED stage again, this time at TED Global in Oxford. He ends his talk by saying:
“To all the people out there like me — to the Africans, and the poor, and the struggling, maybe one day you’ll watch this on the Internet: Trust yourself and believe. Whatever happens, don’t give up.”
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Due to my having been involved with TED, and knowing William, I was given an early release of the new biography of William called, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind“. It’s not out yet, but will be released a couple weeks after MFA. It’s an incredibly well-written and poignant story of hope in rural Africa.
There is also a documentary coming out about William later in the year. Below is the trailer for it, and you can tell how good of a film this will be just from this snapshot:
BugLabs has created the ultimate high-tech hacker device, which they call “modular, open source hardware”. After talking to Peter Semmelheck, CEO of BugLabs, he was very excited about the idea of some Ghanaian programmers taking a crack at his device.
(I really hope they include the BUGbee 802.15.4 radio module with the kit they’re sending, since the WiFi and 3G modules don’t look like they’re available yet.)
We had done this once before, in Kenya at Barcamp Nairobi, an it was a resounding success for everyone. Some of the ideas thought up were:
- Pothole mapper
- A shopping price comparison tool
- Stolen vehicle tracker
- Extortion cop monitor
I’ll bring the Bug for anyone who wants to get started on it before MFA starts on around Aug 10th. If you’re interested in being one of the first people to have a hands-on with the new device, let me know in the comments or via the contact form.
KUMASI GHANA MAY 25 2009: Over 70 participants representing 21 countries meet in Ghana July 8th,
2009 to kick off the third annual International Development Design Summit (IDDS).
IDDS aims to produce innovative, affordable, scalable technologies to meet the very real needs of the 2.6
billion people earning less than $2-a-day. Participants receive a crash course in developing appropriate
technology and then break into small teams, each receiving a different design challenge to solve a specific
problem faced daily by people around the world. Unlike most academic conferences, this summit
emphasizes the development of prototypes, not just papers and proceedings. Unlike technology workshops, IDDS is about creative processes, as well as products.
IDDS 2009 uniquely embodies the spirit of co-creation by collaborating with local mechanics, entrepreneurs and potential end users. At various points, participants will travel to surrounding rural villages and interact closely with community partners. The aim is to develop the creative capacity within the communities themselves, enabling the members to become active creators of technology, rather than merely passive recipients.
The 2009 participant roster reflects diverse backgrounds and skills sets: a woman from Sierra Leone
teaching welding to girls, a Brazilian artist using industrial waste in her work, and a solar energy technician
from India, to name a few. By creating this global network, IDDS hopes to empower individuals and their
communities to tackle the tough problems that reside in the developing world.
IDDS is the brain child of Massachusetts Institute of Technology senior lecturer and MacArthur “Genius
Grant” award winner Amy Smith. The summit runs through August 12th, 2009. Finished prototypes will be
showcased at Maker Faire Africa, a celebration of African ingenuity, innovation and invention hosted by
AfriGadget in Accra, Ghana from August 14th-16th.
While the Maker Faire does concentrate on innovation and technology, we are in fact keen to showcase all kinds of African makers, creators, inventors, designers and artists. At the Fair in August we expect a great cross section of makers, media and technologies from local and international hand.
Adding flair to the selection of innovators already coming are two media makers both from Ghana.
The first is Nana Kofi Acquah a photographer (nanakofiacquah.blogspot.com) whose work spans high end fashion and product photography to gritty street documentary work. He is currently busy with a series covering ‘Ghanian makers’ which he will show in August.
Also showcasing will be Africa Interactive (www.africa-interactive.net)
a fast growing multimedia agency in Africa, with 600 local reporters in 38 African countries. They cover stories from an African persepctive through their network of reporters who are always on hand to make a mobile report. They have done work for large international companies and local and international ngos. The team from the Ghana based office will represent them and their work.