Maker Faire Africa: A Celebration of African Ingenuity and Innovation
Creating a “maker philosophy” is the force propelling Maker Faire Africa, an event where all types of innovations and inventions will be identified, sustained, amplified and nurtured for the benefit and future of all mankind. Specifically, Maker Faire Africa has three goals; to offer a spotlight for local creations, to provide a way to market these new products and services and to connect plans for solid innovations with venture capital.
Maker Faire Africa’s ultimate challenge will be to establish partnerships and an enduring infrastructure that could spur other similar events across the African continent. How to do this is of primary concern to those behind the dream of Maker Faire Africa 2009. Some key principles include: engaging important continent leaders in different fields such as technology, academia and agriculture, who can offer support through their expertise and endorsement, involving “external innovators” to develop revenue streams, developing opportunities via networking and attracting venture capitalists, philanthropists and the media in great numbers.
Maker Faire Africa marks an important communion between all the nations of the continent. With the help of Ashesi University and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, it is hoped that joint efforts will help to solve some immediate challenges to the environment and development of the continent. Maker Faire Africa also seeks to apply these new developments to cultivate more sophisticated, indigenous forms of manufacturing. The long-term goal is to cultivate a base that supplies innovative products in response to market needs.
Manufacturing is a concept that heretofore has not really been dealt with as an impelling force for change. This is partly due to a lack of education and/or orientation to the subject. It is the alteration of attitudes that will pave the way for this significant force, and by making fabrication the “next big thing”, Maker Faire Africa hopes to transform traditional perspectives. The program is all-inclusive, and will span from the dumps where scrap metals are abundant, to more formal collections of mechanics and repairers who have set up shop in urban centers. Currently, it is only a handful of clever and curious entrepreneurs who meet local demands. The answer lies in effectively transforming the scale.
Maker Faire will hopefully revolutionize more provincial beliefs and applications, which ironically has evolved from higher institutions of learning, which have emphasized extractive industries over centers of manufacture, and administration at the expense of creativity and production. Ashesi University is to provide the continental organizing force of the program and its team will collaborate with the organizers of the International Development Design Summit, which is slated for mid summer, 2009, and will be held at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
The idea for Maker Faire Africa belongs to African-American baseball player, , Emeka Okafor, who said:
“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?”
For those of us who live on other continents, if you are wondering how you can help this wonderful project along, go to the website and get a badge that you can put on your website or blog to promote the event. Help spread the word! Secondly, help find sponsors. If you know an organization or individual who might like to support this amazing event, let them know.
Africa shall take its worthy place among the continents of the world. All it needs is some direction and guidance. The natural resources, vitality and ingenuity of its people will shine through as a powerful sprit and force destined for recognition and respect.
M Dee Dubroff