In the neighborhood of Bingerville about 45 minutes -1 hour from Abidjan, in the district of Angré, stands H-FABLAB. A digital manufacturing laboratory whose primary objective is to promote learning by doing among young people, whether or not in school, literate or not in French.
The space was opened formally in Sep 2021, but had been running informally for 2 years before that. They enjoy good internet access via a fiber connection, though electricity can be sometimes unstable
Dodji Honou is the founder of H-Fablab. His story begins in Togo, where he was born. And where his story with makerspaces and innovation hubs began. He was a member of Woelab now expanded into Hubcity in Togo, and in 2013 while there, his story with GIG also began. He met GIGers, Geraldine and Max , who introduced him to GIG.
He later moved on to Senegal to work with a non-profit, then Mali and Benin to work with innovation labs, before founding H-Fablab in Cote d’Ivore.
Dodji’s personal mission is aligned to running a fablab which he believes can help people develop skills, facilitate community access to knowledge and tools and machinery to develop our countries
They do this in 3 main ways:
Technological Education: H-FABLAB promotes learning by doing through Digital Fabrication tools. We allow Ivorians and Africans to have access to equipment and a space for creation, experimentation and sharing.
Prototype and testing: new solutions which are useful to society and which solve our daily problems.
Sharing with the community: as part of the sharing approach, H-FABLAB makes their research results freely available through OpenSource documentation in the field of Agriculture, Health, educational pedagogy, etc.
Some of their recent highlights are
Workshops for kids where they teach them ICT, electronics, and robotics. Interestingly, with the fablab being situated in a semi-rural area, when they shared about the training for the kids – most respondents came from nearby. They typically have 10-20 kids per training
Digital fabrication where they build machines for Agriculture and Open Health. An example is a dehydrator that they are fabricating that will be used for preserving agricultural produce, for example mangoes which during the high season go to waste because the supply overwhelms consumption.
They recently also had 20 makers come together to co-create a hydroponic agricultural system. This allows people to grow lots of fruits and vegetables vertically in their homes using minimal space.
All these projects are open and documented here so they can be replicated.
The current ecosystem/landscape
Cote d’Ivoire currently has lots of innovation spaces where people can go and access the internet and work on innovative ideas. Lots of people are creating prototypes but it seems that most spaces are currently not able to help them go to market and scale.
Inspired by spaces such as Gearbox in Kenya, which facilitates engineers to develop prototypes and take them into market H-Fablab wants to help innovators get to the next level.
You can get in touch with H-Fablab by emailing Dodji email@example.com
Or connect with them on social media
Read all about their programmes on their website