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Tanzanian Students at Buni Hub Build Africa’s First E-Waste 3D Printer

by • February 3, 2016 • No Comments

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The African country of Tanzania is an eastern and coastal country, and its economic efforts at becoming additional technologically savvy always appears to be compared to those in neighboring Kenya. But there’s a lot going on at Tanzania’s Buni Hub, which is a maker lab of sorts which started in 2011. “Buni,” which is Swahilli for “innovation,” has turn it intod a stamp of its own in the arena of 3D printing. Finnish government funded Costech (Commission of Science and Technology) turn it intod the TanzICT program which has 400 participants, which include majority students, which have access to four programs: internships, mentorships, maker space, and community outreach. This dynamic program already has over 160 participants working on 14 various projects which can apply for mentorship if successful.

The ideas which come out of the Buni Hub are quite mixed, and the maker space has a 3D printing device, furnished by Costech, which is utilized for a variety of projects as well. Even additional astounding is which Buni tan1Hub has the distinction of being the home of the initially African 3D printing device turn it intod of e-waste; the e-waste came of electronic motors and other consumer electronics parts.

News of the e-waste 3D printing device broke in February 2015, and most people are excited by the prospect of additional projects like this, explains Buni Hub Community Manager Jumanne Mtambalike:

“We have got requests of eight various organizations and people of various places in the world requesting us to share the work through documenting the system and publishing it online. The plan now is to scale the production by involving SMEs and vocational training institutions to take part in the system. One other plan is to document all the work, turn it into a Wiki, estimate the production cost and pilot the project of getting the filament of recycled plastic materials.”

This is a project which promises to go far in a country known to be one of the poorest in the world. And the student participants of Buni Hub are not without their other new ideas regarding reusing electronic parts. Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology intern students have in addition hacked a drone and utilized its e-waste to create another one based on a YouTube video they saw; the project took 7-8 weeks to fish. The drone ended up being of USD $300, and the just external part they had to purchase was the control board.

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Whilst both the 3D printing device and drone turn it intod of e-waste are testimony to the expanding access and information Tanzanians have of emerging technologies, there’s yet the problem, as always, of funding and resources. That can be the largest hurdle as 3D printing devices are not a big consumer product in Africa as of yet.

Jumanne Mtambalike summarizes the uphill challenges to bridge the digital divide and encourage additional innovation education for Tanzanian youth:

“Tanzania is not Silicon Valley. Funding for start-up businesses is complex to get. There are not most investors and they are looking for businesses which can scale and grow for a swift ROI. So there are challenges on both sides.”

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In the meantime, the Buni Hub continues to provide innovation education and hands on experience to students who are additional than aware which economic development lies in the new emerging global technologies, and so long as access is equal, 3D printing can be truly global. Discuss your thoughts on this excellent program in the Buni Hub 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Images: Buni Hub, via Facebook / allafrica.com]