Making for Change


by Roy Ombatti -

In the Nairobi Fablab, I have personally seen that hands-on making is life-changing. However it can be difficult to measure impact and as such it is difficult to quantify the successes of the process. But I am particularly curious about the making in the context of the developing world. I feel the impact of the change effected by making is most significantly felt, and needed here. But then how do we ensure that making is exploited to its full potential?

With developing world challenges such as reliable connectivity and off-the-grid access to electricity, there is a tremendous need for ingenuity and. The issue is how to provide making experiences to those brilliant young minds. From my travels around East Africa, I am amazed at the number of small creative and innovative spaces. Africans have clearly seen the need for the local solutions to local problems. And the making scene has become really vibrant in the last few years. The potential and need for African makers is tremendous, and makerspaces are popping up, including schools.

I was very impressed by the Accelerating Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (AISE) space in Arusha, Tanzania. AISE is a local innovation space where the community is empowered to design and create their own solutions and technologies. It is a space where creative ideas come to life. I spent 2 months working with them earlier this year. Their scope recently expanded to hosting workshops for school children teaching them skills required for making as well as getting them involved in project-based learning.

I believe that the focus on children is so important to improve education and lives around the world, but especially in the developing world. There is a need for similar spaces all over Africa in order to ensure the systemic and sustainable development of Africa.


Christa Flores's picture

Thank you Roy for your posts. I really agree that the greatest impact of this kind of learning, to empower and reverse the disenfranchisment our youth, is what makes this work so exciting. I am always inspired by the work that you and Juliette are doing with your amazing students. Is anyone documenting the process for a video? 

Roy Ombatti's picture

Thank you Christa. We have lots of photos and videos. We just haven't gotten round to uploading and sharing them. But we will.