TEDGlobal: Africa needs more engineers and makers

Source; BBC NEWS

By Jane Wakefield, Technology reporter

Kamau Gachigi said there was a need for more engineers

Kamau Gachigi said there was a need for more engineers

Africa needs more engineers and makers, the head of Gearbox - Nairobi's leading maker-space - has told the TEDGlobal conference in Tanzania. Kamau Gachigi said that by 2050 Africa's population is projected to have doubled and needs to build economies to sustain that level of growth. Digital fabrications labs such as Gearbox are vital to this, he said. Such labs need to start building more Africa-specific hardware, he added.

"These labs help people become more practical and more productive. We need many more people to develop their potential and contribute to the society." He spoke about how young engineer Simon Wachira had used the lab to create a robotic tool that could cut both metal and wood, which is now creating parts for car giant General Motors.

Another project saw 24-year-old Esther help design sanitary towel dispensers which can be put up in schools to avoid the issue of girls missing school when they have their period.

And a third saw a pharmacy student design 3D models of CT scans that surgeons can use to practise operations before they operate on real tumours. "He is making money selling these models to surgeons. It saves up to 60% of operation time and that means insurance companies are interested. He now has a business and doesn't need to go back to university," said Mr Gachigi.