- December 16, 2022
- 5 min read
The Africa Makerspace Gathering
The coming together of makers, technology enthusiasts and hobbyists, technology researchers, engineering enthusiasts and makerspaces has taken a relatively good shape since the intensification of the maker movement. One of such avenues for the coming together of the aforementioned players in the maker ecosystem is the Africa Makerspace Gathering (AMG). The Gathering is an annual event which brings together players in the African maker ecosystem to have dialogues on matters of relevance to the field of hardware technology; in a broader spectrum, to address matters that pertains to the growth and sustainability of makerspaces in Africa as well as the contribution of makerspaces towards the building of a sustainable Africa.
AMG saw its first edition in 2019 in Ghana and has been happening every year since then. The first Gathering took the form of a physical event and even so, its nature has been adapted to fit an entirely virtual or hybrid form, dependent on the global conditions presented each year. Though the first ever AMG was initiated and hosted by three organizations – Kumasi Hive, Africa Open Science Hardware (AfricaOSH) and Ghana Tech Lab (GTL), it has grown to be widely supported by other organizations and projects across the globe. Such organizations and projects include the Global Innovation Gathering (GIG), the Open Africa Innovation Research (Open AIR) and the African European Maker Innovation Ecosystem Project (mAkE). The Gathering over the past four years has seen participation from countries including Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Ethiopia. Also, there have been representatives from Europe and the USA and this depicts how relevant the maker culture is to people across the globe.
One worthy to mention output of the very first Gathering held was the emergence of the Africa Makerspace Network (AMN), yes! The Africa Makerspace Network was born out of the first AMG to become an umbrella for bringing together makerspaces and makers in Africa, thereby, taking on the responsibility of hosting subsequent AMGs and implementing a manifesto which was drafted at the first AMG. The said manifesto at large details actionable steps geared towards building the capacity of makerspaces in Africa. The Africa Makerspace Network currently has about 30 officially recognized makerspaces in its community and implements other capacity building programs in addition to the Africa Makerspace Gathering.
With the coming into being of the Africa Makerspace Network, the Africa Makerspace Gathering has evolved from only a dialogue having event into one that serves as an avenue for recognizing makerspaces for the works they do. This is made possible by means of the Africa Makerspace Excellence Awards – the first edition which was held at the 4th Africa Makerspace Gathering. The Gathering also serves as an avenue for makerspaces to think in the direction of increasing the involvement of women in makerspace activities, and implement activities to that effect. This also is made possible by the MakerGirl Competition, a subset of the Africa Makerspace Excellence Awards. Again, the Gathering now also is an avenue for having dialogues on collaborative opportunities with organizations and makerspaces beyond the African continent.
The 4th Edition
The fourth Africa Makerspace Gathering was held in November, 2022 at Cape Town, South Africa. It took the form of a physical event and saw a total of 109 attendance for the three-day period. With representatives from Africa and Europe, the Gathering saw a number of fun activities with some dialogues focused on the following topics:
- the future of production and policy frameworks;
- the state of makerspace activities in individual African countries;
- communities of change makers – how to engage, inspire, build and sustain our mAkErverse; building a maker passport;
- open catalog of business models for makerspaces;
- the promotion of responsible and sustainable production while fostering distributed production; national standardization of makerspace operations via regulatory frameworks;
- prototype to product development among makerspaces;
- the potential of makerspaces in contributing to STEAM education via the production of learning and teaching aids;
- collaborations of makers and scientists in the creation of scientific tools and equipment;
- the contribution of makerspaces to the functional capabilities of underprivileged differently abled persons through making of affordable, durable and aesthetically pleasing prosthetics.
The Africa Makerspace Gathering, first of its kind in Africa has proven to be a growing activity by means of the value it brings to makerspaces on the continent. Moreso, the Africa Makerspace Network as the bigger umbrella has great potential of bringing more value to makers and makerspaces in Africa; this can only be made possible by the continuous show of relentless support from makers, makerspaces, tech enthusiasts, supporting organizations and all the key players in the maker ecosystem. Connect with us on [email protected] to learn more on how you can support the Gathering and the Network. Has the thought of having a gathering of makers happen in all other continents crossed your mind yet? How about you envision the possibility of a gathering of makers across the globe in one physical space? Join us empower makerspaces to become key drivers of local innovation and also to create that avenue for makers across the globe to connect and positively impact each other, our world today and for generations to come.