[Day 4] Africa OSH & Other Regions


Originally this was going to be a session only about Africa OSH, but we realised in a session on Day 3 that there is a need to include other regions so we can have learning across the Global South. As well as many people from Africa OSH there were several attendees from LatAm. Sadly not from Asia. The discussion covered ways to make AfricaOSH in particular and OSH events in the Global South in general more inclusive and relevant to the wider population. Topics included how to let more people know what OScH is, how to get academics interested in participating, the usefulness of including international participants as well as regional ones, how to ensure events are accessible to the local population including issues of language, what we can do between events. A list of the concrete suggestions made for the forthcoming AfricaOSH (Tanzania, April 2019) is pulled out at the bottom of the notes.


Yanick - Convener & Facilitator
Marc Juul
Anna - Note taker


Felipe – idea to use events that are already happening like TECNOx – to create some opportunities. How did Africa OSH get started?
We keep asking whether we should be doing more centralisation or decentralisation – we need to try different things. Jorge, Thomas, Alex had a conversation about how open science & hardware can impact lives on the continent. Jorge wanted to bring Thomas Mboa to Kumasi for a few days to talk about how the OSH movement can have meaning for ordinary Africans. It wasn’t intended to be a big thing. Thomas met Connie and shared the idea – and she thought it should be a bigger event. It built from there. When they opened it up the response was amazing – ended up with nearly 600 applications – 90% from Africans – many of them were traditional scientists & engineers who didn’t know about open but wanted to learn.

TECNOx would like to learn from Africa OSH how to get some people from other places to be included.

Valerian – problem was that far fewer people could participate than applied, because of the funding. What is the value of having people from outside Africa? They had to ask themselves that question. They had to learn and choose what can be applicable to their communities. In the Global South we have mostly alike problems. Issues we have in Tanzania may also happen in Brazil – we can exchange learning. So for him it is a good idea to have a mixture of different continents in the participation.

Jorge – it’s a matter of how rich the conversation can get. Bringing many Africans together already has lots of diversity. But bringing others can increase it even more. Different perspectives are what cause innovation to happen. So for him even if we are looking at regional events we need to open up the conversation as a way of building a community across continents too.

Dorcas – she discussed with Chris – when we bring people from outside to lead workshops, people can think that an event is too elite for them – and they may feel they are there to watch and not really to collaborate. So it can be good to pair an outsider with someone local who is working on something similar, and do a workshop as a pair.

Chris – we do this at Twende

Felipe – something we wanted to do at T-X but couldn’t was to get people to really spend some time working in the area – having residencies instead of just workshops.

Chris – it will be good for potential applicants to make it clear what they will get from it – he had friends from Zambia, South Africa – some African people are willing to pay some of their cost if it is clear what they will get.

Jorge – it’s all about how we translate open science into relevant impacts in the lives of people – we need to translate the benefits – if people don’t appreciate what it is they can’t participate in it. How can we make it so a farmer knows OSH can help me increase my productivity. How do you move on that conversation?

Justin – would be good to do more documentation of the workshops & how it can impact people, then share that with other eg Latin America – documenting our context as well, so that other people can understand the relevance.

Jorge – can we feed the conversations from all regional events back onto the forum under the themes of learn, support grow – so we can see the key outcomes that came out. See what happened and who was involved, who is interested.

Harry – challenge is that most ppl don’t know how to use these platforms to access the content - how do we bridge the gap so people can use the content that is there.

Q from Marc D on language in Africa – many people won’t come if the conference will be in English or French.

Valerian – everyone can speak Swahili in Tanzania. Few people speak English. They have a lot of local fundis and technicians who can’t speak English – they will not bother to come to an event like this. We need to invite them, and you have to either have sessions in Swahili or have translation. In the previous one they tried to include academia – but the academic sector in Africa don’t share – we need them there.

Q – is there the same issue in LatAm? It is not an option to run an event in English, people won’t come – you have it in Spanish or Portuguese and speak slowly. In general there are issues getting academia involved.

Anna – examples from event in Nepal – a pitching session where teams had choice of what language to use – English, Nepali (the national language), or their local language. Also a translated interview with a local artisan who spoke in her local language.

Aga – is the forum really a feasible format for sharing the knowledge? It’s an open question – is there another way to share knowledge

Marc J – should be possible to pay someone to translate live for talks and one a weekly basis for the forum

Jorge – if you open up the APIs you could allow for machine translation

Analia – did people present solutions that solve a specific local problem, and if so I would like to read it

Chris – MakerSoko initiative to help local makers to upload whatever they are building – you don’t know what others are making

Leo – use big names to show where people have talked before like Cambridge etc – would that work in Africa? (to help attract academia to the conversation) That helped us in Brazil.

Justin – We all know what we want to achieve – can we build on the roadmap and use that to guide us

Jorge – the next Africa OSH can give us a platform to define where we want to take the community next –

Anna – idea to have video clips in many African languages explaining about GOSH, OSH, and what it can mean to local people

Felipe – even if translation is not available at an event, we have the whole rest of the year. We can act as local proxies to involve our communities. Events come and go (vento) – we need to continue the conversation

Jorge – if we know people doing awesome stuff we need to find ways to bring them over some days before the event and share what they are doing. Justin did that with Jo and now we have the platform.

Marc D – it is hard to get people to participate in pre-GOSH activities.

Jorge – we will find a way. He still doesn’t know how best to improve access to open hardware and that is a big issue for him.

Dorcas – had suggestions on how to improve OS movement for communities: she saw we don’t have time really because event is in April – can we pick up the conversation a bit faster – can we set bi-weekly meetings and have action points between them. The other things is getting people to work with – it is hard to work with institutions – can we get tech companies from other African countries.

Yanick – how about including eg Latin American companies?

Dorcas – yes – that can be very relevant – it can help find a way to make sure people collaborate.

Harry – to get institutions & people from academia – can we have pre-events at certain locations to get people to understand what it is about – eg we had Science Week in Ghana and had a conversation about Open Science – the participants were very happy to learn about it – put in some of these talks & conversations to target particular audiences.

Concrete suggestions for next AfricaOSH:

  • Co-hosting workshops (local expertise as well as international)
  • Residencies
  • Feed back more on GOSH forum (from AfricaOSH)
  • Involve more universities in Africa OSH – e.g. by emphasizing link to internationally respected institutions like Cambridge.
  • Make the benefits of AfricaOSH very clear so that some Africans who can afford it will want to pay their own expenses
  • Make short video clips explaining what Open Science and GOSH are in many African languages
  • Have pre-events before next Africa OSH to target particular audiences to know about Open Science

These notes have been made as a wiki so they should be editable - any participants please feel free to add or make corrections! Thanks


@valerian the list of suggestions people made for the next AfricaOSH has been pulled out at the bottom so it’s easy to find

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What a great job guys…I am so happy to read what you did.


@annasera Nice job! Thanks for this great summary of our lively session. It was a pleasure facilitating the discussion. Looking forward to us working together to materialize some of the concrete suggestions!

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Hi, folks!

I would like to understand what helped you to host people from other regions in AfricaOSH (what worked and what did not) @thomasmboa @yk_kabakoo @valerian and others. That would help me to bring that point to our next TECNOx 4.0 (subscriptions open until December 7th!) organizers meeting. Afterwards we could add that as a reference to our GitLab issue #86.

I remember you had some ideas about raising funds to bring people from other regions to our regional events @efeefe. Could you share that here or in GitLab?

Thank you!