Kamau Gachigi: Success stories from Kenya's first makerspace
Kamau Gachigi - Technologist
At Gearbox, Kamau Gachigi empowers Kenya's next generation of creators to prototype and fabricate their visions. Full bio
of Africa will have doubled.
will be African at that point,
and daunting all at once.
for the first time in the modern era,
to bully everybody else.
to have to have economies
are going to be very young.
have a plan for this economic growth --
Industrial Revolution right now,
and biological worlds.
of artificial intelligence and robotics,
and are used to right now
is a lot greater, in many ways,
was industrializing, for example.
of person that you need
on the continent.
the number of engineers
when they were industrializing,
who are studying engineering
in auditing firms and banks,
doing accounting and so on
to do my undergrad and postgrad education
in countries, environments,
that you required,
for about three years in Japan
to having good equipment,
at the University of Nairobi,
and be on the continent.
I was really quite useless,
that I had become accustomed to available.
find very bright ideas in their minds
things that I knew
to the challenge of industrialization.
and became quite entrepreneurial
to buy the equipment that we required.
out of MIT, called the Fab Labs.
with not very expensive equipment,
a government official
where I was teaching.
of innovations coming through,
in this context at the university,
from different disciplines
together in the same space.
who weren't engineers at all
who had nothing to do with the university,
differently from one another,
is really good for innovation.
came and said to me,
who spend most of the time in the Fab Lab
so well in certain things
and offering services for money.
weren't focusing on their studies.
what a good problem to have.
I'm an academician.
things were a bit too bureaucratic,
with people who, in Nairobi,
and things like that.
are really quite famous.
which we are setting up right now.
a wide range of equipment,
tools that I mentioned,
so you come in, you pay,
and do whatever it is that you want,
an engineer, necessarily.
are setting up a small company.
and are able to set up their offices.
for a certain period of time.
to accommodate all of this
that is really quite active.
over here is Douglas,
who was really active in the Fab Lab.
is a copper sheet.
that the client came to him and said,
for a pay-as-you-go system."
and services for very poor people
because they're able to pay a little bit,
to pilot a new idea that they had,
what the circuit will be
to an etching process --
using this robot.
a day or something to solder by hand,
using this machine.
the entire order within Gearbox,
what we provided right now,
a company in China to do this,
it would have taken a long time.
wouldn't take small orders,
is really very important,
within the progress of the business idea
go back and make corrections and so on.
of a digital fabrication machine.
it doubles as a plasma cutter
the cutting of plate and sheet metal,
a design on the computer
it will cut the shapes you want.
and put on a spindle,
by my Head of Engineering.
a lot of people
and become a good story for us."
using his machine
for Isuzu truck fabrication in Nairobi,
equipment manufacturer in Nairobi
an industrial robot
the population growth being what it is,
are looking very closely
Volkswagen, Peugeot, Renault,
they've been there a long time.
planning to assemble vehicles
to manufacture in the country.
to train lots of people that they'd hire,
for the economy,
their parts for the vehicles
is something that's very important
and to have very productive economies,
we're focused on at our space.
another class of customer that he has.
who are actually using very crude tools
of about 44 million people.
are in the informal sector.
at the top left over there
for the marketplace
Wachira up with a bank,
to train people from this sector
to buy the machine for themselves.
where they can carry their material,
that have been made really, really fast
for example, out of metal,
they might make 10 in a day.
of our population
amount, quite significantly,
so this is really very exciting.
about a problem that she explained.
every month by young girls
to buy a sanitary towel.
packaged these in bundles of seven to 10,
is unhygienic at the retail level,
of them is too expensive.
which is brilliant, and simple.
can break down the bundles
these sanitary towels
in a public space, in a school, and so on.
and it worked really very well,
get the bugs out and so on.
is that the piloting process is possible.
to be able to help her to do this,
with a business accelerator,
that was done at University of Nairobi
a solar cell into a roof tile
who is an architect,
who is doing development and say,
of just the roof tile without the solar."
using the internet of things over time,
of the utility charges for the electricity
back to the grid.
quite a few installments.
to show this to somebody kind of famous,
actually presented the same idea,
if it was after us, so --
of course being able to prototype
in this kind of a setting
for the industrialization process,
of a lot of new ways of doing things:
for not just industrializing
that the environment is taken care of.
around who we were as Africans,
and ethnicity and corruption and so on.
adding value to people
to things or materials
About the speaker:Kamau Gachigi - Technologist
At Gearbox, Kamau Gachigi empowers Kenya's next generation of creators to prototype and fabricate their visions.
Why you should listen
Dr. Kamau Gachigi is the founding executive director of Gearbox, Kenya's first open makerspace for rapid prototyping, based in Nairobi. Gearbox provides a unique window into Industry 4.0 capabilities to innovators in Kenya, and it offers incubation/acceleration services. Gachigi also co-founded the Africa Innovation Ecosystems Group (AIEG), a company that focuses on creating and managing real-estate based innovation centers of varying scales.
Before establishing Gearbox, Gachigi headed the University of Nairobi's Science and Technology Park, where he founded a fab lab full of manufacturing and prototyping tools in 2009. He then built another lab at the Riruta Satellite in an impoverished neighborhood in the city. Gachigi is a member of the Global Council on the Future of Production under the World Economic Forum and of the consultative advisory group of the World Bank's Partnership for skills in the Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology.
Kamau Gachigi | Speaker | TED.com