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Crowdfunded Afrimakers To Bring Arduinos, Raspberry Pis To African Tech Hubs

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the hands-on dept.

Technology 61

An anonymous reader writes "There's a chronic shortage of tech savvy teacher all over Africa, and at the same time a strong belief that the tech economy is vital to growth. Enter Afrimakers, a crowdfunded project to visit tech hubs in seven continents and leave behind Arduino boards, Raspberry Pis, soldering kits and — most importantly — the smarts to use them. The Indiegogo fund opened up a week or so ago, and they've managed to raise enough for the first two countries so far."

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unemployed Americans, emigrate (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605241)

There be jobs in Africa!

Good luck getting past the TSA.

Well, now that 3D printers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605277)

can make guns, this is just what Africa needs! We could have just used 3D printers to print them bigger noses and lips and laugh a bit, but guns?

Raspberry Pi and Arduino (3, Interesting)

kriston (7886) | about a year ago | (#45605289)

The Raspberry Pi is great for software hacking.

The Arduino is great for both software hacking and hardware hacking.

The Pi can be expanded to add effective hardware abilities, but it's more of a software platform. The Arduino is much better for hardware hacking.

I'm glad to see they are both being offered. Just don't offer a soldering iron kit with the Raspberry Pi. That's for the Arduino.

Re:Raspberry Pi and Arduino (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605409)

Why do you need a Raspberry Pi for software hacking? The laptops and desktops out there can't be used for that along with all the normal computer tasks? I never understood this rationale for the Pi, seems like justification to me.

Re:Raspberry Pi and Arduino (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605483)

The Pi was meant for educational use in schools, where the powers that be may turn a little blue in the face when you tell them they need to buy a fleet of laptops to "tinker" with. A low cost experiment kit as it were. Sure, anyone can hop on Ebay and grab a junk laptop, but schools would need them in large quantities, and that would become impractical.

Re:Raspberry Pi and Arduino (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605509)

How exactly do you program a Pi without a laptop? Oh do you need to add a screen and a keyboard?? We aren't in 1983 anymore, computers are a commodity now. This whole "educational use in schools" just sounds like a smokescreen. The school doesn't already have a bunch of laptops around? Come on. You want software hacking? Install Python. Ta dah. I'm a genius.

Re:Raspberry Pi and Arduino (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605549)

Python is for Quiche Eaters.

Re:Raspberry Pi and Arduino (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605555)

Except school computers are typically locked down to stop people who THINK they know what theyre doing from breaking everything.
Doesnt matter what they do to the Pi, unless of course the school is stupid enough to hook those up to its main network.

Re:Raspberry Pi and Arduino (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605561)

I think you are missing the point, schools aren't going to let kids mess around with the machines slated for general purpose use as they are quite a bit more expensive than $35. Schools don't buy 10 computers, they buy 100. It adds up. Plus, you can do a bit of low level hardware stuff with a Raspberry Pi, that I wouldn't want first timers to try on a PC. Also, what if you wanted every kid to own their own computer and take it home to experiment with? Do you think mommy and daddy want to shell out a minimum of $300 for jimmy to say oops I wired pin 1 and 6 together and now it won't start up anymore?

Re:Raspberry Pi and Arduino (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#45605813)

Especially in a country where 300 bucks ain't just the price of a Christmas gift but rather your annual food budget...

Re:Raspberry Pi and Arduino (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605423)

I wouldn't say that, the arduino is not at all good for software anything. They are far too limited when it comes to memory. For hardware hacking the arduino is indeed superior because it has an ADC and is realtime and the pi is not. However, I think if you are looking for an all in one device the Pi is it. If you want the whole shebang, get both and connect them through a logic level converter UART to UART. Then you have a Pi with an ADC and all the extras.

Re:Raspberry Pi and Arduino (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45608727)

>get both and connect them through a logic level converter UART to UART
Or you *could* connect the Audrino USB port directly to the RPi? If you are running an OS with USB drivers... Not like the kids would go baremetal for a while.
The Audrino already has USB to serial built-in. You actually have to get out of your way to connect to the raw TXD/RXD pin on the ATmega chip.

The ADC on the ATmega is dog slow and crappy though. Not like Atmel knows how to make good ADC like TI or other vendors.

Sounds good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605331)

Sounds good to me. Good luck. :)

Wat (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605375)

Just what are those boons going to do with technology? Scrap it for cash?

P.S. /. captcha sucks ass. It took me 10 minutes to post this because their shit server was down

Why are you up so late? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605383)

If you're going to be an insomniac, you might as well listen to the Ashes. They're in Australia this year.

http://www.cricket.com.au/live/audio-stream [cricket.com.au]

Wat? (1)

Barny (103770) | about a year ago | (#45605445)

"...visit tech hubs in seven continents..."

When did Antarctica get a tech hub?

Re:Wat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605453)

The only people there are researchers and their support staff.

Re:Wat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45610857)

Yup... The whole of Antarctica is pretty much a tech hub. The habitants there were Linux fanboys before they even knew there were humans on earth.

Re:Wat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605531)

Orcadas Base, bringing Argentinian civilization to Antarctica since 1904.

Re:Wat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45606731)

in history class, i never read about the Argentinians sailing the atlantic
and civilizing the european hordes.

what africa really needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605459)

some real raspberry pies.

Apparently... (1)

luckymutt (996573) | about a year ago | (#45605489)

---There's a chronic shortage of tech savvy teacher all over Africa

Apparently there is also a shortage of English teachers.

Re:Apparently... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605517)

No, teacher is singular. There's only one tech savvy teacher who travels all over Africa to teach.

Re:Apparently... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#45618345)

Still wrong; with countable nouns the partitive takes a plural.

Sigh... (1)

axlash (960838) | about a year ago | (#45605511)

Not another "technology will save 'Africa'" story - as though 'Africa' was a monolithic entity.

It's possible that this program will produce some enthusiastic and talented programmers in Africa... but when those programmers realise that it's frustrating writing programs when there's only a few hours of power a day, internet access is flaky, corrupt and predatory government frustrates their efforts to set up a business, and some big company overseas beckons them to work, they probably won't remain in Africa for very long.

In any event, I think it would be better to focus more on the business side of things (i.e. how can technology aid your business) rather than technology for technology's sake).

Re:Sigh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605527)

corrupt and predatory government

Is there any other kind?

Re:Sigh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605691)

corrupt and predatory government

Is there any other kind?

arguably a dictatorship does not need to pretend to uphold something like democracy, so payments for services need not be covert but can be an institutionalized part of how it functions.

Re:Sigh... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#45605833)

My dad said yes. We had a few pretty good governments right after WW2. It seems you just have to stuff politicians into concentration camps for a few years to set them straight.

Re:Sigh... (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about a year ago | (#45607555)

Most of Africa's governments are in an entirely different league than the governments you're more familiar with.

Re:Sigh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45607803)

corrupt and predatory government....Is there any other kind?

Well there are two types. The ones that just steal everything and don't care about the misery of the citizens, versus the ones who cap their stealing and the citizens misery in an attempt to get more production they can skim from the citizens. African politicians just haven't realized the latter works better yet.

Re:Sigh... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605543)

Africa needs more white people. Blacks are unfortunately not able to govern themselves. They seem to enjoy autocratic dictators, a superstitious ignorant populace and general thuggery.

Re:Sigh... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605639)

They seem to enjoy autocratic dictators, a superstitious ignorant populace and general thuggery.

We should send over all our democrats and republicans right away! They'd fit right in.

Also, Afrimaker sounds PC for niggerrigger.

Re:Sigh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45612027)

Africa needs more white people. Blacks are unfortunately not able to govern themselves. They seem to enjoy autocratic dictators, a superstitious ignorant populace and general thuggery.

You can't possibly be this ignorant.

Re:Sigh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605603)

internet access is flaky, corrupt and predatory government frustrates their efforts to set up a business,

So, exactly like America, then?

Re:Sigh... (1)

adamoxford (3020691) | about a year ago | (#45605755)

Fortunately Afrimakers isn't that kind of story. The guys behind it were invited to try and visit by the people who run tech hubs all over the continent - the only reason it's 'Africa' rather than individual countries is that there is a pan-continental network of hubs that work together to try and do exactly those things you mention. They've asked Afrimakers to visit to supplement that work they do around entrepreneurship etc. As for developers leaving the continent - there is also an opposite effect taking place. Diaspora who've gone overseas, learned skills, and are returning to set up social enterprises [htxt.co.za] or take advantage of the big growth rates and start businesses.

Re:Sigh... (1)

axlash (960838) | about a year ago | (#45605887)

Fortunately Afrimakers isn't that kind of story. The guys behind it were invited to try and visit by the people who run tech hubs all over the continent - the only reason it's 'Africa' rather than individual countries is that there is a pan-continental network of hubs that work together to try and do exactly those things you mention. They've asked Afrimakers to visit to supplement that work they do around entrepreneurship etc. As for developers leaving the continent - there is also an opposite effect taking place. Diaspora who've gone overseas, learned skills, and are returning to set up social enterprises [htxt.co.za] or take advantage of the big growth rates and start businesses.

Thanks. I read the original article, and I got the impression that there was more emphasis about teaching tech to children than working with would-be entrepreneurs to help with their businesses.

I know that there are Africans who have worked abroad returning to their home countries, but sadly, there are far more Africans remaining abroad, or worse still, seeking to leave. But perhaps it doesn't matter - you only need a few enterprising souls to kickstart something good.

Re:Sigh... (1)

Adam Oxford (3411907) | about a year ago | (#45609089)

Thanks. I read the original article, and I got the impression that there was more emphasis about teaching tech to children than working with would-be entrepreneurs to help with their businesses. In my mind it's hard to separate the two. What's emerging is a movement that includes things like Afrimakers and takes in both ends of the scale. It's different to the way a lot of governments and businesses are approaching the problem, which is to try and start teaching people after they graduate - which is too late really (although unavoidable atm). This is very much the long term view :) Then again, reading some of the other comments here, I think I may need to do more explaning in future articles about just what's happening in many countries now. A lot of views seem to be about 30 years out of date...

Re:Sigh... (1)

Adam Oxford (3411907) | about a year ago | (#45610055)

^^ Gah - managed to strip all the formatting out of that last comment some how, apologies.

Re:Sigh... (1)

axlash (960838) | about a year ago | (#45619103)

Then again, reading some of the other comments here, I think I may need to do more explaning in future articles about just what's happening in many countries now. A lot of views seem to be about 30 years out of date...

I wouldn't bother, really. The holders of those views hold them more for emotional than logical reasons.

Re:Sigh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605781)

the 'technology will save Africa' theme is getting old now. They've got way too many other problems like not getting murdered, army raped or mutiliated by rebels, making sure they don't starve, and making sure they don't die of simple sicknesses, to be bothered about some high end tech that most first-world consumers don't even bother with.

Re:Sigh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605793)

sorry, what? ... Oh, it's not _that_ part of Africa you meant? Oh, well that's ok then! I guess that umbrella term was a bit too vague when there are umpteen countries on that continent?

Re:Sigh... (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year ago | (#45607383)

My opinion on Africa is that the currently-modern countries are fine; the starvation-level countries need feudalism in the short term; and the type of technology to deploy in many of these places will be different than what we use here. That is to say: more sustainable, self-sufficient technology that needs less infrastructure will suit underdeveloped countries in that region better, but porting that same tech here would just get lots of greenie-weenie gum-flapping and high implementation fees to little benefit. Major infrastructure in the poorer regions of Africa of course would just devastate their economy; while actually providing sanitization and food distribution and education at an acceptably high level without requiring a multi-mega-bajilliotrillion-gold-pieces bootstrap they can't afford to maintain, much less implement in the first place, would give them a vehicle for economic prosperity.

Re:Sigh... (2)

Monsuco (998964) | about a year ago | (#45608499)

It's possible that this program will produce some enthusiastic and talented programmers in Africa... but when those programmers realise that it's frustrating writing programs when there's only a few hours of power a day, internet access is flaky, corrupt and predatory government frustrates their efforts to set up a business, and some big company overseas beckons them to work, they probably won't remain in Africa for very long.

Not all of Africa is impossible to do business in. Kenya's government, while not good, is at least stable and mostly functional. Botswana has seen very dramatic economic growth and is starting to emerge in the global markets as a viable place to do business.

Sure, Somalia's too unstable, Nigeria's too factional and Zimbabwe is too corrupt, but there are parts of Africa that could potentially benefit from better tech in schools.

Amerimakers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605559)

Afrimakers? Seriously?

"African tech hubs" - an oxymoron... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605735)

... if ever I heard one...

Oh, wait... Here on Slashdot, we have to deny reality and pretend that blacks are just as intelligent as the rest of the human race, don't we, in spite of the evidence of hundreds of MILLIONS of blacks, who can'teven build a bicycle, let alone a computer...

How sickening. What have Africans done for the world? Anybody?

Re:"African tech hubs" - an oxymoron... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605921)

in spite of the evidence of hundreds of MILLIONS of blacks, who can'teven build a bicycle

Can you build a bicycle?

How sickening.

Yes you are.

What have Africans done for the world?

Make up your mind - is your problem with blacks or Africans?

Anybody?

What have you ever done for the world? Did you create Ubuntu? Did you perform the world's first heart transplant? Were you Secretary General of the UN?

Posting anonymously to assist others in not seeing your post. Anyone who does, mod parent and me down please.

Re:"African tech hubs" - an oxymoron... (1)

Monsuco (998964) | about a year ago | (#45608551)

What have Africans done for the world?

Humanity likely came into existence in Africa.

Re:"African tech hubs" - an oxymoron... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45618521)

Not much, then.

Raspberry Pis (2)

mythix (2589549) | about a year ago | (#45606027)

That's nasty

Cause Africa is Just One Big Poor Ignorant Country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45606261)

Yes lets bring tech to the unwashed masses. No need to distinguish between countries, languages, education systems, political situations, ethnicity, religion. The whole continent is just like in one of those TV commercials with the kids with flies in their eyes.

Seriously people. You'd think they could spend 10 minutes reading Wikipedia before they start another condescending, half-assed development project that is really only about congratulating yourself for being such a nice guy despite your privileged background.

You might be shocked to find that there's an existing tech culture in each of these countries and it varies just like it does within Europe, Asia and the Americas.

this is another example of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45606337)

the power of Afro-turfing on /.

Oh great.. (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#45606853)

More 419 scams from Nigerian princes and Craigslist ads wanting to pay top dollar for iPods, iPhones.

More African princes asking for money? (1)

Andover Chick (1859494) | about a year ago | (#45607569)

Sadly tech these tech pushes in Africa inevitably end with scams, fraud and various other forms of internet crime. Although cheap hardware allowed countries such as India to rise to the top of the software tech world, Africa has notoriously high levels of crime.

Re:More African princes asking for money? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45609133)

I really don't think so. I can give you so many case studies in hubs like Angola, Tanzania, Kenya or South Africa where this isn't the norm. I am Kenyan so I get heavily biased...lol but I think projects like Mpesa, Ushahidi, Brck that are encouraging. Tech hubs and spaces like mlab, 88mph, Google ventures for africa e.t.c can't be that bad for the region.

I think some of the tech especially in the government and economic sector push for more transparency more than anything that why most governments fight to open up their data or put open data initiatives within government.

As for cheap hardware, I am still rocking my IBM T40 running linux. You don't need anything that elaborate to learn the basics especially at a young age. But I can be wrong.

PS: Africa is not a country? Nigeria != Africa.....haven't studied geography in a while but there is some other 50+ countries and 10000+ tribes each with their own customs and mannerisms. But I did use that 'I am an African Prince and the Serengeti is my back yard' to get some love with the ladies first year of college. I know lame but had to. Damn, went on a tangent but I hope you get the gist of my argument.

Peace.

Re:More African princes asking for money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45613439)

I second your motion. I think the post you replied to was a little racist, actually. Maybe not based in hate but lack of education. I also take it that even in countries where crime/corruption is an issue, giving people the opportunity to use technology to get around that may in time, lead to a reduction in crime. You know, cos most people are actually trying to make an honest crust, where ever they are, and are sick of being shat on by corrupt exploitative assholes.

Re:More African princes asking for money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45625681)

PS: Africa is not a country?

Not sure if that's supposed to be a question or a statement, but in either case I never said it was. With reading skills like that I can only conclude that your a junglebunny.

very concerned (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45607665)

If we keep leaving tech there I’m worried this will spark another cargo cult.

Wow!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45608915)

Really Kind of taken aback by some of the comments! I think this is a great idea. Not only because its in Africa but also because it gives another great opportunity to establish a Raspberry pi or Arduino community where none previously existed. Especially when they are young and likely to take and have more interest in stuff.

As for Africa and its problems, I am sure with time it will get to sort itself out. Most of these countries have only been independent for around 50 o so anyways.

My two cents anyways.
Cheers.

Nothing new here (1)

WML MUNSON (895262) | about a year ago | (#45609167)

I don't mean to piss on this girl's project but, unless she's going to do this in places like Goma or Juba, she's not doing anything new or particularly special in Africa.

Many African countries have had successful domestic tech scenes for longer than most people realize. That includes robotics communities, network operator groups, Linux user groups, ICT associations, and more. There are a lot of incredibly talented and dedicated people here who have been tirelessly building these communities for a very long time.

Sub-Saharan Africa started to become hip about three years ago. Ever since then we've been practically drowning in hackathons and other feel-good tech events organized by "movers and shakers" from the west.

I'm ranting a bit, so don't get me wrong; all of these projects have a positive impact. I'm just sick of hearing about how "innovative" some people are for doing stuff that's already been done before just because they're the first people to yap about it on-line.

Re:Nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45614939)

True but Arduino hacks can be implemented by the common man and not just some university or institution which always has more resources than said common man. Ok, domestic tech scenes you say, yes, but....the more implemented the more it could eventually go in the hands of the common common man rather than the common man with an income of an actual Nigerian prince.
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