Partnership with Impact Hub Accra

After a year of running #lowdesign #lowhightech #lofab *style prototyping workshops out of the Impact Hub Accra, and building on a year plus of geeking out at the former Hub Accra, AMP can now share a cool new partnership starting this month to build a demo makerspace with Impact Hub Accra and Siemens Stiftung(*Grassroots maker tech trend, e.g. Afri_Design_X: Ashesi Sessions)

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Building an innovation engine

Hundreds of thousands of young people enter Ghanas job market each yearill-prepared to create their ownwhile hundreds of thousands of artisans and crafts(wo)menfrom welders to carvers, carpenters, masons, electricians and electronics repairers, tailors, seamstresses, weavers, cobblers and sign painters to tinsmiths,copper-smiths , blacksmiths and ironmongersare already active country-wide. If we can leverage this massive belt of grassroots (micro-)manufacturing know-how, how might we retool the emerging conversation around African makersto better design products and environments together?

Most people who want to make things, dont know how; others dont know how to scale what they make. The challenge is finding what you needknowledge, expertise, blueprints, materials, toolsto make what you want, the best way you can.

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Our story starts at Agbogbloshie—an informal sector scrapyard, market, slum and park in Accra, Ghana (actually located in the Old Fadama neighborhood) that is mischaracterized by media globally as the worlds largest e-waste dump” (compare to Adam Minter’s saner piece on Smithsonian.com). In response, 1500+ youth from Ghana, Africa, Europe and the US750+ scrap dealers and 750+ students and recent graduates across a spectrum of STEAM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics)have participated since 2014 to co-design the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP): a participatory design project in interclass innovation—bringing youth from different backgrounds, cultures and countries to network Agbogbloshies nodes and modes of making with new tools and technologies of digital design and fabrication.

We developed a first prototype of a mobile plug-in makerspace (we call it a spacecraft) and mobile app: a trading platform for makersto share what you need, what you have and what you makethat powers a community of plug-in spacecraft. Today we are gearing up to launch spacecraft at Agbogbloshie and at Impact Hub Accra, together with the digital network (AMP app) that links recycling with digital fabrication and distributed manufacturing. In tandem, this hybrid digital-physical platform approach operates to amplify makerspotentialto make more, betterby making together.

What is a Makerspace?
A makerspace is a 21st-century digitally-connected community workshop and lab open to entrepreneurs and anyone interested in learning, designing and making together in a collaborative environment. Typical equipment ranges from low- to high-tech, but spans 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines (e.g. routers, mills, lathes), sewing machines, soldering irons and electronics tool kits. Makerspaces help people gain new skills through learning-by-doing: using CAD/CAM software to apply 3D modeling, 3D printing, coding, robotics, carpentry, metalwork and other tools for rapid prototyping of physical objects and hardware. Makerspace complements Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) fields to drive innovation and support entrepreneurship through new product development.

Makerspace@Impact Hub Accra

Today we are excited to announce the next phase of partnership between AMP and the Impact Hub Accra, Ghanas pioneering co-working space and incubator for active early stage entrepreneurs: we are installing a pilot makerspace for digital design and fabrication at the Impact Hub Accra.

Initiated in 2005 with a single location, Impact Hub is the worlds leading network of entrepreneurial communities and collaborative spaces committed to generating positive impact. From Amsterdam to Accra, Singapore to São Paulo, Impact Hub supports the work of more than 12,000 members each year. The global Impact Hub community founds over 1,250 startups annually, creates more than 4,600 new full-time jobs, and serves over 2.2 million customers and beneficiaries in more than 50 countries around the world.

Impact Hub Accra, part of the first cohort of eight Impact Hubs in Africa, has a growing membership of over 100 and a broader community of nearly 7,000. Since 2015 Impact Hub Accra has hosted Africas biggest hackathon, Hack for Big Choices (supported by Facebook and WordPress), startup pitch events (most recently with The Case Foundation, for a $25,000 prize), an accelerator for top social entrepreneurs in Ghana (taking the Unreasonable Institutes Unreasonable Labsglobal), and developed Ghanas first digital design and innovation lab (in partnership with the US governments Broadcasting Board of Governors).

Building a makerspace at Impact Hub Accra will integrate existing maker and entrepreneur communities to create products that solve local problems, engage real markets and have potential to scale their impact on peoples lives. Here is what we are adding to make that happen:

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Equipment & Space

  • Space: Renovate existing community workshop at the Impact Hub Accra, where we have run a dozen maker events with 200+ participants over the past year.

  • Toolboxes: Install a set of maker-themed toolboxes that can be stowed, checked-out and used anywhere at Impact Hub Accra.

  • Equipment: Provide a range of tools for digital design and fabrication, including shop tools, sewing machine, 3D printers, laser cutter, CNC mill/router and electronics workbench.

Programing & Activities

  • Access: Equipment/space rental for rapid prototyping available to makers and members of Impact Hub Accra (fee-based).

  • Community: Informal maker meet-ups organized around themed projects (free and open to the public).

  • Training: Scheduled sessions to help makers gain and improve their skills in digital design and fabrication (paid).

  • Competitions: Periodic design challenges to help teams move from ideas to concepts to prototypes for testing in the market.

  • Incubation: In-house support for select new product development ventures, including space, access to tools and mentoring in design, prototyping and entrepreneurship.

  • Design-build: Digital design and fabrication as a service, to be offered to startups and existing businesses (future).

Scaling the impact

Over the past year, AMP and the Impact Hub Accra have in partnership run dozens of maker events on-site with 200+ participants, including: a hybrid participatory design plus lean startup-style Makers and Developmentapproach to the AMP mobile app for Android; concept prototyping workshop with winners of Innovate Ghanas Design Challenge on themes of waste and sanitation; and an interdisciplinary collaboration between students via Ashesi Universitys Design Lab, design entrepreneurs in the Impact Hub Accra community, informal sector scrap dealers from Agbogbloshie, engineering students from the University of Ghana-Legon, students from l’École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and Princeton University’s PACE Center for Civic Engagement.

Now, starting in October 2016, we are launching the pilot Makerspace @Impact Hub Accra over a period of ten (10) months, with both the goal of upgrading our facilities and target of training 100 new makers, supporting development of 10 new product concepts to prototype stage, and incubating 2-4 ventures for a six-month period post. Our target budget for this pilot project is 120,000 USD for the makerspace equipment and build-out, running costs and a series of maker workshops, training sessions, Design Challenge and follow-up incubation.

Deeply grateful to Siemens Stiftung for offering support and collaboration toward not only the project budget to launch Makerspace @Impact Hub Accra, but also feasibility studies and seed funding for three (3) other Impact Hubs in Africa to roll-out makerspaces in their own local innovation ecosystems and grow the network.

We are scaling fast and always looking for partners, mentors, supporters, leads on sourcing used equipment and donors to help with match funding.

Click the link below to help share this story with your friends via our Thunderclap* campaign. More vim!

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*This is NOT a commitment to donate money, and Thunderclap will NOT “spam” your friends on Facebook/Twitter. Thunderclap is a cool online tool that lets a group of people all share a one-time message with their friends on social media, on a particular date. The goal is to alert as many people as possible to your message—all at once.

Clicking on the “SUPPORT” button just means that you will help share us this story on 26 September, 2016. It’s like a RT on Twitter or a “share” on Facebook…in advance. Can you spare 30 seconds to help change the lives of Ghana makers?

Prophecyting

Today Agbogbloshie scrap dealers, together with Ashesi University students from Kobby Ankomah-Graham‘s seminar, helped Belgian-Beninese artist Fabrice Monteiro and Senegalese designer Doulsy scout locations for their Prophecy II photo series. The Prophecy I series probed the issue of environmental pollution by evoking spirits of the earth, dispatched to either plead or warn humans to change our ways lest we kill our mother planet. Per panel discussion with Fabrice at Ashesi, the Prophecy II series will be a diptych contrasting the needless excess of planned obsolescence against the devastating human and environmental destruction used to extract the resources from which our electronic devices are produced out of the earth.

It was noticeable and community members confirmed that you now see only smaller stockpiles of circuit boards and plastic monitor cases, for example, because buyers are more consistent and frequent. What AMP affirms about Fabrice’s project is that it is creating a space—mythical but real at the same time—reminding us all to take action now, before its too late to save this planet.

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Fabrice testing frames and Doulsy smiling upon a scrap dealer’s reveal of treasure trove of VHS cassette tapes (part of the costume design):

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Innovate Ghana prototyping workshop

Finalists from Innovate Ghana‘s 2015 Design Challenge around problem areas of Water & Sanitation participated in a prototype design workshop at the Makerspace @Impact Hub Accra (December 19, 2015):

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Then @kabsseidu & @afrocyberpunk showed up from Nubian VR and prototyped a VR camera rig:

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Log of AMP activities

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#spacecrafting

The AMP makers collective has run over 35 workshops to date around the theme of transforming the Agbogbloshie scrap and recycling ecosystem into a network for distributed manufacturing and digital fabrication.

Here is a list of the main events held as part of the AMP series of informal maker workshops to build the future of Agbogbloshie:

Spacecraft . square pyramid jig

4 pcs 1in angle bar chamfer cut and welded to form square inverted pyramid with sturdy base, metal off-cuts.
4 pcs 1in angle bar chamfer cut and welded to form square inverted pyramid with sturdy base, metal off-cuts.
square pyramids made with 4 pcs. iron rod with single weld bead at tip should be self-supporting.
square pyramids made with 4 pcs. iron rod with single weld bead at tip should be self-supporting.
pre-cut all iron rods to identical length using metal cutter, saw or angle grinder.
pre-cut all iron rods to identical length using metal cutter, saw or angle grinder.
16 pyramids required to fabricate one semi-octet truss.
16 pyramids required to fabricate one semi-octet truss.

Spacecraft . 2d truss jig

Mild steel angle bar is liable to twist or bend before the truss is triangulated; to ensure that each octet truss you make is straight (±1 mm) use a straight and square metal jig with wood board forming welding bed (will burn over time, flip over before replacing). Use clamps to secure 2d truss frame to jig, and push metal against wood plate of jig with a nonconductive pipe or wood stick.

Welding: Tack weld first throughout to assemble octet truss, then complete full weld once all metal elements are held in contact. Usually a small amount of grinding required to clear sharp edges. Apply hardener coat to seal and spray 3-6 coats of automotive paint. Paint damage possible (e.g. scratches) during transport and assembly; paint touch-up work may be done after assembly.

 use clamps to secure 2d truss frame to jig, and a nonconductive stick (preferably wood) to push metal against wood plate of jig.

2d truss jig spacer2d truss jig side viewweld flat bar ladder into 2d truss frame5 weld sides to 2d truss frameuse clamps to secure 2d truss frame to jig, and a nonconductive stick (preferably wood) to push metal against wood plate of jig.5 weld safety first6 weld pyramid chain into 2d ladder truss7 weld invert pyramid to angle bar at vertices8 semi-octet trusses should stack interlock9 7 1.5in semi-octet trusses welded, load to paint

finished octet trusses sprayed and loaded in truck bed
finished octet trusses sprayed and loaded in truck bed