Officially launched on 12 May 2016!
At the wake of a new industrial revolution spearheaded by digital tools that enable the previously - impossible, the design field finds itself at the very center of it all. Beyond competencies in the hard sciences like engineering and math, design occupies a potential place especially now driven by such areas as; Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) and the integration of software, hardware and the Internet of Things.
No longer are these competencies sought only by large companies in industrial manufacturing fields. Since the advent of such technologies as 3D printing, Computer Numerical Control Machines, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and the ubiquitous nature of computing; they have become a basic requirement for almost anyone.
Following His Excellency President Paul Kagame’s visit to both Solidworks Corporation and MIT’s Centre for Bits and Atoms (CBA) in 2007 and 2013 respectively, particularly his recommendation of the establishment of the FabLab in Kigali so as to enable Rwandans to benefit from this global trend; the ICT Chamber in partnership with Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Ministry of Education, SolidWorks Corporation, MIT-CBA, and Gasabo3D followed through taking lessons learnt from efforts of supporting Software innovators (at kLab) to execute on His Excellency’s recommendation, the establishment of a Fabrication Laboratory (FABLAB) to support Hardware Innovators in Rwanda.
Fablabs are a global network of local labs, enabling invention by providing access for individuals to tools for digital fabrication. The network that has grown over the years to over a thousand labs around the world is finally opening in Rwanda. Bringing with it a revolution for Rwanda’s digital prototyping and manufacturing industry.
Fablab Rwanda is a space for members to turn innovative ideas into products specifically in the hardware and electronics domain. As a result it is expected that the space will be providing a platform for capacity building and integration of hardware skills with software knowledge and quickly bringing Rwandan innovators closer to the Internet of Things era.
What is a fab lab?
What's in a fab lab?Fab labs share an evolving inventory of core capabilities to make (almost) anything, allowing people and projects to be shared
What does the fab lab network provide? Operational, educational, technical, financial, and logistical assistance beyond what's available within one lab
Who can use a fab lab? Fab labs are available as a community resource, offering open access for individuals as well as scheduled access for programs
What are your responsibilities?
1. safety: not hurting people or machines 2. operations: assisting with cleaning, maintaining, and improving the lab 3. knowledge: contributing to documentation and instruction Who owns fab lab inventions? Designs and processes developed in fab labs can be protected and sold however an inventor chooses, but should remain available for individuals to use and learn from
How can businesses use a fab lab?Commercial activities can be prototyped and incubated in a fab lab, but they must not conflict with other uses, they should grow beyond rather than within the lab, and they are expected to benefit the inventors, labs, and networks that contribute to their success
We came a long way....
The ICT Chamber is the youngest member of the Private Sector Federation (PSF),More specifically the Rwanda ICT Chamber brings together ICT Associations, businesses, groups and individuals into a community where they can share ideas on how to promote and develop Rwanda's ICT and ICT enabled Industries.
The ICT Chamber spearheaded the setup of the FabLab first when it realized there was untapped potential in the tech sphere especially in the digital fabrication. It made this a priority and later on started driving the conversation on its actual design and setup.
In May 2012, the ICT Chamber together with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) with the support of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) launched the first ever tech innovation hub of Kigali, kLab. It was set up to be a home for all aspiring tech entrepreneurs and mentors. Kigali's entrepreneurial scene then started booming. A lot of other cool spaces saw a day after that.
The innovative mindset, the open sharing culture, the commitment of kLab entrepreneurs to building new innovative solutions and impacting the Rwandan community sparked even bigger and better ideas. It was quite clear that a piece in the puzzle was missing. Entrepreneurs with passion for electronics and digital fabrication had no home and were in need of support. kLab brought together the makers (a group of students from the College of Science and Technology) and started drafting the first FabLab concept.
In June 2015, through the connection and support of the Ministry of Education in Rwanda (MINEDUC), Sherry Lassiter of the Fab Foundation, Suchit Jain and Mark Neil of SolidWorks, visited Kigali to meet with the various stakeholders.
A working committee was then set up made by MINEDUC, JICA, ICT Chamber, kLab, SolidWorks and MIT-CBA and continuously through a number of calls made progress on the establishment of the Lab.
In September 2015, thanks to the support of JICA a number of FabLab stakeholders visited Japanese FabLabs to learn from their best practices and to make meaningful connections towards the establishment of Rwanda's FabLab.
In January 2016, the construction and renovation of the future FabLab started again thanks to the support of JICA and Gasabo3D.
On May 12th, 2016, FabLab Rwanda was launched officially.
FabLab Kigali would never have seen a day if it was not for the generous support of the mentioned below. Besides financial contribution, all the mentioned gave selflessly of their time and expertise. Some went even to greater length of wanting to give away some of their personal belongings. Rwandan innovators and inventors are forever thankful for all the support.
The SOLIDWORKS focus on ease-of-use that allows more engineers, designers and other technology professionals than ever before to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life.
A great supporter of the FabLab worldwide, SOLIDWORKS has generously supported the FabLab Rwanda with the first set of equipment and continues to work with local companies through capacity building and software provision.
JICA's support to Rwanda is primarily focused on: 1) economic infrastructure, 2) promotion of value added agriculture, 3) water and sanitation, and 4) human resource development.
More extensively, JICA has been a great support of technology in Rwanda through the establishment of kLab, Tumba College of Technology and through the ABE initiative that sends a number of Rwandan students each year to Japanese Universities.
Formed in 2009 to facilitate and support the growth of the international fab lab network as well as the development of regional capacity-building organizations. The Fab Foundation is a US non-profit 501(c) 3 organization that emerged from MIT’s Center for Bits & Atoms Fab Lab Program.
Their mission is to provide access to the tools, the knowledge and the financial means to educate, innovate and invent using technology and digital fabrication to allow anyone to make (almost) anything, and thereby creating opportunities to improve lives and livelihoods around the world.
There are currently 636 labs across the globe. FabLab Kigali makes the 637th lab on the map of fabLabs.io and we could not be any more prouder.
Gasabo3D committed to redesign the space and to provide the bill of quantities. This was crucial to getting the space renovated. The amount of time they spent changing, redesigning, putting the final touches to the design is quite remarkable. Thank you Gasabo3D for your contribution!
The Rwanda Development Board was set up by bringing together all the government agencies responsible for the entire investor experience under one roof. This includes key agencies responsible for business registration, investment promotion, environmental clearances, privatization and specialist agencies which support the priority sectors of ICT and tourism as well as SMEs and human capacity development in the private sector.
Rwanda Development Board generously offered the space that FabLab uses just like they did with the kLab. This goes a long way to show how committed the Rwandan Government is to supporting and building the capacity of its population.
All the partners in this FabLab Kigali project could have not met if it wasn't for the Ministry's connections. As soon as they had of the initiative that the ICT Chamber had for the space, they immediately brought all the stakeholders in one room and pledges and commitments were made since then. They have been instrumental in advocating for the establishment of the space. Their support was instrumental and we are forever indebted.
Take a look at a few machines found in FabLabs around the world. FabLab Rwanda is now host to similar equipment and we will soon be able to prototype and design as we go.
Using sensor enhanced beehives and data science to study honeybee colonies.
Combining green and solar technology to build this Fab lab house in Barcelona.
Making slippers at an affordable price with almost anything
A network of Scientists put together a technology that is openly available for anyone to use and that tracks the bee decline across the globe.
This is made out of the FabLab Barcelona.
This is a combination of social, technical (like design) skills with environment in mind project. It is classified as both a green and solar house made out of the FabLab Barcelona. It has attracted crowds all over the world by its simplicity but yet sophisticated design.Learn more
See what we have been up to! Since we launched, we met a lot of people and we made a few things....
The ribbon was cut. Thanks to SolidWorks' CEO, The Mayor of Kobe in Japan, The Hon. Minister of Education in Rwanda, The Honorable Minister of Defense in Rwanda and the Vice President of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.
Join our next training on Industrial design. Sign up here before the 4th June 2016. Hurry up- only 15 spots left! Find the form on this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1mb-JdjikLd4KRszurcpXD-ez_f7rxEzbp5E6IOApAjg/viewform
Telecom House, 6th Floor, 8 KG 7 Ave, Kigali (P.O Box 5121)