3D Printing in East Africa

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Few continents have seen as much war and terror as Africa. And Nigeria, suffering fresh onslaught from Boko Haram insurgents, has seen many families relocating from Adamawa State, in the northeastern area of the country. But is in the darkest corners that the light shines brightest, and that is no less true here, where 3D printing is helping to inspire innovation to improve the daily life of people in the region. The CyberLogik Foundation, a charity organization in the country focused on technology oriented solutions for humanitarian relief, is working hard to bring 3D-printed prosthetics to the region.

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One of CyberLogik’s members, Umar Khalifa Yakuba, met a young boy named Musa, who had lost all of the fingers on his right hand after falling into a fire when his family’s home had been burned down. Seeking a way to help the boy regain some of the capabilities of using his hand, Umar turned to e-NABLE a massive network of people who are focused on making the world a better place through the means of technology and innovation, which began with a single 3D printed hand for a young child in south Africa. However, in a refugee camp in East Africa, it is not easy to come by 3D printers. Many companies don’t ship to the country, as Umar Yakuba explains, “A lot of companies selling 3D printers, filament and parts do not ship to Nigeria. We have to ship to a warehouse in the US and ship to Nigeria using additional delivery services that charge extra. 3D printer companies also do not support Africa, so we cannot get solutions from them on technical issues or do a part swap when our parts fail. We have to buy new parts since we cannot get them fixed.”

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But undeterred, Yakuba forged onward, overcoming many challenges such as the frequent power outages in the area. As with all 3D printers, the final product can take large amounts of unmanned time, a single prosthetic can take up to 20 hours to print, and a power outage at the wrong time could be disastrous. To remedy this, the machines are backed up by a separate power supply, which in the event of an outage, the print will continue un-interrupted. Yakuba showed optimisum for the future of 3D printing in the area, stating that “The number of amputees in Africa is the greatest in the world. There are not enough people making prosthetic limbs, even for the people who can afford it…in countries like Mali, Uganda, CAR, Eritrea, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other poor countries with recent histories of war, disease, extreme poverty and terrorism. e-NABLE has been an awesome experience and this is only the beginning. 3D printing is the ‘future of the future’ and we are excited to be part of the journey.

Mendoza, Hannah Rose. “Working to Enable the Future through 3D Printing in East Africa.” Www.3DPrint.com. 3DPrint, 28 Oct. 2015. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.  

Posted in 3D Printing.

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