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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/14861

Title: Fabbing For Africa's Informal Sector
Authors: Obeng, George Yaw
Waldman-Brown, Anna
Adu-Gyamfi, Yaw
Langevin, Sharon
Abdulai, Adam
Keywords: education
informal sector
job creation
Issue Date: 2013
Abstract: To manufacture anything in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) requires the same creative “maker” sensibility that is valued throughout the fab lab community. This presentation will draw upon research in one of Africa's largest informal industrial communities to explore the past and future of grassroots manufacturing, and examine how fab labs might be integrated into these communities. With over 80,000 technical artisans, auto-mechanics, and purveyors of related supplies, Ghana’s Suame industrial cluster is a hotbed of West African manufacturing and creativity. Yet some of the local workshops are wooden shacks without electricity, and the entire community is on the path of decline unless local artisans can come up with competitive products and keep up-to-date with modern technology. The decline of Suame Magazine is typical of many such manufacturing and repair communities throughout SSA. In 1980, a group of engineers from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana founded an Intermediate Technology Transfer Unit (ITTU) in the heart of the Suame cluster. They introduced new tools and techniques for metal fabrication, welding, beekeeping, and other grassroots businesses. This presentation will discuss how the success of KNUST’s technology-transfer program might be repeated today with digital manufacturing tools-- how could a fab lab be tailored for use in SSA’s informal manufacturing sector, where metalworking is more essential than carpentry or electronics? This paper will also compare the KNUST initiative to current programs in Ghana Fab Lab and Kenya’s ARO Fab Lab. While both fab labs have benefitted their respective communities, neither one has worked with local informal industries in any significant capacity. If fab labs of the developing world wish to fulfill their stated goals of providing employment and fostering new industries, the authors firmly believe that these labs must become better integrated with the existing informal sector.
Description: This article is published
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/14861
Appears in Collections:College of Engineering

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