All over the world, communities enable entrepreneurs to develop products and services. Hardware communities tend to be more difficult to set up, and only a few get any recognition for the work they enable.
In today’s letter, I find some interesting communities that are not in the news a lot but are doing some amazing work.
Also, happy August!
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Things I Enjoyed Reading
While the African Union was signing the AfCTA, something else was happening simultaneously in Niamey last month. The Nigerien Information Society and the CIPMEN Incubation Centre co-organized an Innovation for Development summit with Smart Villages as the central theme. While ‘smart’ means different things in different places especially in the IOT age, to them it’s quite simple: enabling rural communities with the resources to build their own financial instruments.
In Durban, the Manufacturing Indaba conference brought together manufacturers mainly from South Africa but also from other Southern and Eastern African countries. Two interesting points: about how policy can de-industrialize countries and how much more expensive electricity is compared to other parts of the developing world.
Buoyed by the Cairo hardware (maker) ecosystem, FAB15 - the annual conference on hardware development and makerspaces - takes place in Egypt this year.
Most people have never heard of Transsion Holdings. The company has more then 30% of the smartphone market on the continent and about 60% of the feature phone market. But I’ve never read a better analysis of their strategy than in this piece by Saruna Maina.
Ever wondered what electronic components look like in cross-section?
Contracting fibres for biomedical applications.
Volkswagen + Autodesk = Pimp My Ride
Things To Apply For
Founders Factory Africa and Netcare are looking for 35 unique health-tech startups on the continent to fund and incubate.
Kigali produces some interesting new tech, thanks to a growing technology scene buoyed by Carnegie Mellon University’s campus there. Fablab Rwanda operates an interesting community model, where no one pays a fee and members - who are admitted through a grueling process - learn to use to tools while working on client projects.
I caught up with Lambert Rulindana, the General Manager, and learnt about this, their plans for the future and other things. Read all the gist. 🔒
Eye Witness by Lota Ibe
The Pan-African Robotics Competition (PARC) was held in Ghana this past month. Focused on mobility and climate change, and segmented by increasing levels of difficulty - from children teams to teams of working engineers -, the competition drew participants from more than 15 African countries.
The annual event is run by SenEcole, led by Sidy Ndao and began in Dakar three years ago. Initially designed to encourage tinkering, it has developed into a pool of entrepreneurial talent with support this year from the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology.
Tweet of the Month
A reminder that many engineering decisions end up being about cost.
Hey @logicalelegance, I just heard this from a friend of mine: “Ceramic is really common because it’s cheaper than hermetic tantalum and basically the only type of SMD cap that’s good for use in a vacuum. So you just make little carparks of ceramic caps everywhere”
Starting with this letter, as seen above, I’m opening up the newsletter to short blurbs from people who write to me about hardware events that happen on the continent. I call it Eye Witness; if you’d like to tell me about one (especially if you’re going to be at FAB15), please simply reply the letter or email me.
Never let the distance stop you,