Togo in West Africa is one of the last places you’d expect to find a maker space—a workshop where inventors and tinkerers can work on new projects to their heart’s content. But inside the capital city of Lome, there’s a maker space. Woelab bills itself as “Africa’s first space for democratic technology” and it’s home to Kodjo Afate Gnikou. Afate’s latest invention was recently unveiled, and it’s amazing: A 3-D printer made from cheap discarded electronics of the kind found all over the world.
Using crowdfunding from Ulule (French-language link), Afate built a workable 3-D printer using less than $100 in parts. Ulule investors provided him with a modest $4,000 to develop the low-cost fabricator, and a functional prototype was completed. In his crowdfunding page, Afate compares the potential impact of 3D Printing on society to that of the steam engine in the 19th century.
“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 Euronews.
Woelab’s YouTube page includes numerous examples of the printer in action. Although it is still only a prototype, it has successfully gone through extrusion tests and is functional.