The Africa Open Science & Hardware Community
- March 01, 2022
- 5 min read
The AfricaOSH community is a community of makers, makerspaces, scientists, researchers, educators, etc. We are a regional community of the Global Open Hardware Community (GOSH). AfricaOSH essentially seeks to promote grassroot innovation, open science and open hardware practices and principles in Africa. We are a growing community of over 350 community members with member participation from 50 different countries across the continent. 36 of these countries are African countries.
Our flagship program is our annual summit. The AfricaOSH Summit takes place on a rotational basis across the various regions in Africa. The AfricaOSH Summit is a grassroot effort to bring together policymakers, educational institutions and educators, government institutions and government officials, scientists, researchers, makers and makerspaces and everyone interested in open science. The purpose of these summits is to discuss all the opportunities for Africa offered by open science and its various trends and topics.
We have organized 3 summits so far. Our maiden summit was in 2018, at Kumasi Hive in Ghana. Our second summit took place at the Dar es Salaam University in Tanzania in 2019. Due to the
outbreak of the Covid pandemic, we were unable to organize our summit in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, our third summit was held in Cameroon at Mboalab.
Our goal is to create a conversation and set of actions on open science hardware, among African actors, and between them and the international community, in order to adopt open science hardware (OSH) principles and practices appropriate to our African context. We want to create an alternative path to education, research, scholarly communication and manufacturing through OSH given the barriers imposed by traditional Intellectual Property (IP) regime, and also make African academic research and innovations more visible and accessible.
Ultimately, our goal is to achieve an ecosystem for innovation that is locally adapted, culturally relevant, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable. An ecosystem of shared knowledge, ideas and resources to accelerate innovation in Africa.
We also organize a webinar series in our efforts to educate and also create awareness on open science practices and its benefits and impact to our continent given the lack of education and awareness on open science practices in Africa.
For these purposes, we seek to attach ourselves with projects and initiatives that are driven towards promoting open science in Africa. One of such projects is the EU funded African European Maker Innovation Ecosystem ( mAkE) project.
The mAkE project is a transdisciplinary approach to connect European and African Digital Innovation Hubs to maximize their potential as spaces for digital innovation, skill building, job creation and contact points for global collaboration networks. AfricaOSH is a contributing partner on this project, supporting deliverables like:
a. Supporting in the facilitation of an informed dialogue on the policy needs and demands as well as the role of makerspaces in fulfilling policy agendas such as the SDGs, the EC European Circular Economy Action Plan, as well as more recently developed roles as part of a critical infrastructure for local supply of necessary goods.
b. Sharing experiences from the AfricaOSH community networks on how the establishment and development of regional hub networks can amplify the impact and leveraging powers of makerspaces on a national and regional level. How local requirements and challenges for governing this take up are taken into account and locally adopted innovation and entrepreneurship governance strategies will be co-created with citizens, entrepreneurs, hub leaders, local administration, policy makers and other stakeholders.
c. Support in the mapping of machinery in and near makerspaces across Africa and Europe using the newly developed Open Know-Where standard.
d. Support in developing a blockchain-enabled smart contracting to distribute production across the mAkE networks.
e. Support in the development of an open resource toolkit for makerspaces and makers. The toolkit will include different chapters on how to set up, manage, equip and sustain different types of digital innovation makerspaces. f. Support in the hosting of Training of Trainers
g. Support in the development and implementation of the mAkE-MOOC, a Shared Online Platform.
During the Bali Fab Fest (bali.fabevent.org/) between 12 October – 22 October, 2022 in Bali, Indonesia, AfricaoSH was part of a panel session on “co-creating a decentralized network for future manufacturing”. During this panel discussion, we spoke about the “Suame Magazine” in Suame, Kumasi – Ghana, which serves as an environment for grassroot innovation and also a perfect example of a decentralized network for manufacturing.
The Suame magazine is an industrialized area of Kumasi with many workshops for metal engineering and vehicle repair. It employs an estimated 200,000 workers, who have created a decentralized network of manufacturing. The panel discussed the possibilities of creating such a decentralized network for manufacturing in the context of the mAkE project. By becoming a member of the AfricaOSH community, you will be joining an ecosytem of shared knowledge, sharded ideas and shared resources, committed to driving innovation in Africa and also promoting open science hardware in Africa. Kindly click this link to join bit.ly/AOSH_Community