Our dear Africa is fast growing into a technology hub and a meeting point for great innovators and world class entrepreneurs; with the likes of Karuiki Gathitu, William kamkwamba, Lorna Rutto, and the endless list of others who have vowed never to retire until Africa reaches her full potentials.
Kodjo Afate Gnikou is one of these great innovators whose immense contribution to the growth and development of our dear continent cannot be overlooked.
He is the inventor of the W.Afate 3-D printer (“W” for woelab, the first hackerpace in west Africa, and Afate from his name), a home-made replica of the Prusal Mendel, a popular printer in the United States and Europe. But the huge difference between the two printer models is that while one is made using parts purchased in stores, the other is made from discarded electronic waste.
As consumers frequently replace “old” electronic gadgets as they grow obsolete every year, electronic wastes increase. However instead of allowing these wastes go to real waste, Kodjo goes about gathering them and recreating them.
His $100 3-D printer uses leftover parts gathered from old computers, printers, and scanners found in local dumping places. A few new parts such as motors had to be purchased though, but the huge part of the 3-D printer is built using re-purposed local materials.
Using rails and belts from old scanners, the case of a discarded desktop computer and even bits of a diskette drive, he has created what is believed to be the first 3-D printer made from e-waste.
This great feat wasn’t achieved in a day, it took several months for Kodjo to put his experimental device together.
Using Crow Funding from Ulule (French-language link), he has used a modest $4,000 to develop the low-cost fabricator, and a functional prototype was completed.
He was recently rewarded with the NASA’S International Space Apps Challenge, a competition for technology designed to get mankind to Mars. Kodjo’s entry is part of a mixed Togolese-French team that is offering proof-of-concept proposals for developing custom-fabricated mechanical equipment parts.
In his proposal, the rising star makes it clear that his printer model can allow 3-D printers to be created in any environment using already-existing equipment, and that “rather than send its computing waste to the poor countries, why would the West not send them on Mars?”
His knack for helping other young people reach their aim is simply unparalleled, exactly why he says;
“My dream is to give young people hope and to show that Africa, too, has its place on the global market when it comes to technology. We are able to create things. Why is Africa always lagging behind when it comes to technology?” the inventor asked Econews.
Today at 34, this talented inventor and entrepreneur has secured a spot amongst Africa’s greatest and finest innovators, yet he shows no signs of retirement. Kodjo is simply an African star.
So my friend, before you trash that stuff, make sure it’s real waste.