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Revolutionize Manufacturing: The Genesis of 3D Printing in Africa

The introduction of Fourth Industrial Technologies into the African context poses exciting possibilities; this uncharted territory of progressive technology intermingling with material realities is something that can result in further developing the strong streak of creative entrepreneurship in Africa. 

Although questions may arise concerning the relevance of advents such as genetic editing, automated machinery or technological mineral development in Africa, these pieces of technology require much capital and may only benefit the privileged in countries to which it is being introduced. However, the flow of new skills into the space may accommodate brilliant minds that lack only an opportunity to use their abilities. 

The Youth for Technology Foundation is a wonderful example of the manner that new technologies are able to intersect with the needs of communities for the purpose of educating. The founder of this project is Njideka Harry, she has spoken at the United Nations General Assembly and World Economic Forum, to name a few. Harry is well-rounded in her education graduating from Stanford as well as North Western University’s Kellogg School of Management with an MBA. 

Njideka Harry, President and Chief Executive Officer, Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF), Nigeria; speaks as a session is held on “Achieving Internet for All.” The World Economic Forum holds the Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2017 in New York, NY USA. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Ben Hider

The Youth for Technology foundation focuses on the equipping of communities with technology that is appropriate for their needs. Their website boldly states that appropriate technology means that it is “applicable to 90% of the population in developing countries, and used to research, document, and share information about the most basic problems for people living in these countries.”. The Foundation focuses on skill development and preparing students for a technologically geared working world, positing that technology increases the exposure and self expression that individuals are able to have. 

The Foundation operates in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, the USA and Colombia, however, Nigeria is one of the countries that hosts many of the programmes offered by the Foundation. Nigeria is 10th in the world with students pursuing STEM for university education. The 3D Africa programme is also beneficial in Nigeria because of the challenges that they are facing in certain manufacturing sectors especially in terms of the gap between skills and employability.

The aim of 3D Africa is equip people to design, produce and market their own products, learners are equipped to attempt to overcome challenges specific to their communities through their inventions. By reconfiguring the way that the production process takes place, hope is being restored to pockets of vitality in the African context.

There is hope beyond the most obvious limitations that are clear when a new technology is introduced into a space but the work of this Foundation is evidence of the innovation that is taking place. A quick visit to the invention gallery of 3D Africa’s website is evidence of this.

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