Jan 16, 2015 | By Simon

With nearly 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste disposed of worldwide every year, it comes with little surprise that everybody from government agencies to one-man workshops are making an effort to upcycle or repurpose the dated technology into usable products.  

However among the possibilities that can be done with the wasted material, is it possible to not just create another object; but rather an object that creates other objects for a community in need?  3D printing experts in Finland and Tanzania think so, and they’re on a mission to make it happen.

An assessment conducted three years ago predicted that Tanzania alone will generate close to 9,500 tons of e-waste from just computers.  While that might be a small fraction of the worldwide number of 20 to 50 million metric tons, it is certainly a lot for a small country like Tanzania. 

Aiming to help repurpose this waste into something beneficial for the local tech and maker community, Finland and Tanzania are currently in the process of setting up an infrastructure for developing 3D printers out of the thousands of tons of e-waste scattered around the small country.   

"We have a lot of materials locally but there is absence of infrastructure. Innovation should be focused on creating infrastructure," explains Brian Paul, co-manager of The Information Society and ICT Sector Development Project in Tanzania (Tanzict).

At Buni Hub, another innovation think tank located in Tanzania, plans have been underway for establishing a Fablab which will act as a workshop featuring 3D printers for makers and hardware developers to use while developing their projects or more formal product designs.    

By integrating the e-waste of Tanzania into their 3D printer fabrication process, the Buni Hub innovators, who have been trained on how to make a commercial device with modern capabilities, will be able to keep their production costs low compared to purchasing modern and mass-manufactured machines that would result in the same print qualities.

Previously, the work at Buni Hub has centered around software development with little capabilities to venture off into hardware development. The project marks a monumental shift in the think tank’s capabilities that will allow the Buni Hub innovators to scale out their concepts at an industrial level...which would ultimately result in job creation and economic development in the small country.  

Kati Manner, who is the Head of Cooperation at the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Tanzania, said that she is pleased with how the project is progressing and that it is critical for their three-year development strategy plan for Tanzania... which also includes developments in agriculture, land use, good governance and eradication of poverty.

“This [program will help] majorly in achieving sustainable economic development," she added.

 

Posted in Fablabs

 

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Davis wrote at 11/22/2015 3:11:40 PM:

I support these program a hundred percent ,my self as a Tanzanian in-love with science and technology i picture this project as a big step in improving science and technology in Tanzania as it will give more chances to people with skills and those interested in and at the same time combating environmental pollution due to e-waste materials.

Davis wrote at 11/22/2015 3:10:24 PM:

I support these program a hundred percent ,my self as a Tanzanian in-love with science and technology i picture this project as a big step in improving science and technology in Tanzania as it will give more chances to people with skills and those interested in and at the same time combating environmental pollution due to e-waste materials.

RAMBo wrote at 1/18/2015 4:14:08 PM:

I am sure that one day dumping ground will be the mines of the future. We will find a way to recycle all these waste and use again all the rare material and precious metal in them. Coming shortage will boost innovation in that sector. Good luck tanzania.



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