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Cure BionicsCure Bionics, a startup company based in Tunisia, is finalizing its design for a prosthetic hand using 3D-printed components. Priced at $2,000, the model will cost significantly less than the bionic limbs typically imported from Europe. Cure Bionics could transform the lives of many Tunisians in need of prosthetic limbs to improve their quality of life.

Disabilities in Tunisia

Although not much data is available for limb differences in Africa, the 2002-2004 World Health Survey declared that 16.3 of Tunisia’s population possessed some sort of disability.

Although the country has passed groundbreaking legislation prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities, prejudice still hinders Tunisians with disabilities from fully participating in social settings. Moreover, people with disabilities often find voting difficult due to a lack of appropriate accommodations and many struggle to find good employment. Past research indicated that nearly 60% of Tunisians with disabilities did not earn any individual income, and the 40% who did work, earned 40% less than people without disabilities.

Social, political and economic exclusion means, broadly speaking, that Tunisians with disabilities are more acutely impacted by multidimensional poverty than Tunisians without disabilities. In turn, this has led to disparities in education, health and employment. The social exclusion of people with disabilities has a considerable cost in terms of quality of life with a life expectancy reduction of approximately 18 years.

Cure Bionics

Cure Bionics hopes to improve the lives of disabled people in Tunisia by making high-tech bionic limbs more accessible and affordable for the people who need them.

When the company’s founder, Mohamed Dhaouafi, was studying engineering at university, he began to research prosthetics after learning that one of his peers had a relative who was born without upper limbs and could not afford prosthetics. Dhaouafi quickly discovered that this is not uncommon: Of the approximately 30 million people in developing countries who have amputated limbs, only 1.5 million can obtain prosthetics.

After graduating from university, Dhaouafi continued to work on the prosthetic device he had begun designing in school. Today, Cure Bionics’ 3D-printed bionic hands have rotating wrists, a mechanical thumb and fingers that bend at the joints in response to the electronic impulses. The bionic hand can be adjusted to accommodate a child’s physical growth. It can also be solar-powered for use in regions without a reliable electricity supply. Since young people with limb differences require multiple prostheses as they age, Cure Bionics’ cost-effective approach could help to ensure that more children benefit from prosthetic limbs earlier in life.

Moreover, Dhaouafi hopes to offer a virtual-reality headset for physical therapy sessions. Geared especially toward children, the headset will allow recipients of bionic limbs to become familiar with their prosthetics and to practice moving and flexing their fingers in the fun and exciting context of a video game.

Looking to the Future

While Cure Bionics continues to finalize and test its bionic hand before making it available for purchase in Tunisia, Dhaouafi has already set himself another goal. He wants to offer high-tech, low-cost prosthetic limbs to people with limb differences throughout Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

Selected by the Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa program in 2019, Dhaouafi is helping to increase access to bionic prosthetics for people who could not otherwise have afforded the expense. In this way, he is also helping Tunisians with limb disabilities to overcome the formidable challenges of exclusion and escape multidimensional poverty,  improving their quality of life overall.

Angie Grigsby
Photo: Flickr

Technology in Ghana
Ghana has been the hub for technology production in sub-Saharan Africa for decades. In terms of recent technology progression, Ghana stands out for its IT programs, sustainability training and more. Accra is one of the metropolitan cities in the country, known for its technological innovations. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Accra has been working tirelessly to safely and efficiently produce technology that provides aid to sub-Saharan Africa. Here are six facts about technology in Ghana during the COVID-19 pandemic.

6 Facts About Technology in Ghana

  1. The Ministry of Health established a partnership with Zipline, a U.S. company that delivers medical supplies using drones. Zipline is distributing supplies and test kits to 1,000 medical facilities across the country. The company loads the drones with tests and return packets to go back for testing. This has helped Ghana complete 68,000 tests during the lockdown and distribute more supplies as the virus has spread.
  2. Cognate System, a software company, is tracking cases of COVID-19 throughout Ghana. Cognate System uses a platform called Opine Health Assistant (OHA), a phone app that people use to report and record their symptoms. Once someone tests positive, they can use the platform to report their symptoms and determine when they are COVID-free. The application asks questions like where the user has traveled recently and whether they are in need of food, shelter or water. After the lockdown, OHA tracked and recorded approximately 3,000 cases.
  3. As the COVID-19 virus spread through Africa, hospitals began to fill up and medical personnel quickly realized they did not have adequate supplies to prevent further spread of the disease. Ultra Red Technologies (URT), a 3D printing company in Nairobi, got to work immediately to help. The company printed out plastic face shields to send to Ghananian medical staff to help them protect themselves while tending to patients. Mehul Shah, at the URT, wanted to do his part and find a way to help without needing to import products. His work represents the benefits that technology in Ghana has had on the country’s coronavirus response.
  4. Fablab, an innovation hub in Kenya, has been developing tracing applications. The applications track positive patients on public transport to determine who experienced exposure to the virus. If users are in a taxi, for example, they could scan the code onto the application to mark the vehicle as exposed. If everyone uses the application properly, it could trace the positive patient and notify others who may have had exposure to the virus.
  5. The Academic City College in Accra worked alongside the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, located in Kumasi, to build a ventilator that takes merely an hour to assemble and costs only $500 to $1,000. This effort resulted from students who noted that most oxygen bags required hand-pumping to keep patients breathing. The low-cost ventilators use a wooden box with pipes and electrical programming that push oxygen into the patient’s mask, eliminating the need for hand-pumping. Ventilators are quite difficult to distribute as they are expensive to build and maintain, even in wealthy nations. Lowering the cost and production of ventilators can save the lives of millions of COVID-19 patients.
  6. Ghana has been able to test 100,000 people through drone testing. This has likely contributed to the country’s relatively low death toll, which rests only at 486, or 18% of the 2,700 positive cases recorded. Each death has been due to previous underlying conditions that prevented patients from fighting off the novel coronavirus.

Technology in Ghana during the COVID-19 pandemic relies on the good use of resources and accounting for cost and efforts. During the pandemic, Ghana and its neighboring nations have stepped up to the plate to prevent further spread and manage cases so that citizens can get back to work soon. Since March 2020, Ghana has cut down on costs for ventilators while reducing importation needs and sustaining the current quality of production. The sooner the case numbers fall, the sooner citizens and students of Accra can get back to working on more technology to sustain and grow the region. Technology in Ghana has only progressed during the COVID-19 era, and is working toward helping the nation get rid of the virus.

– Kim Elsey
Photo: Flickr

Silicon Valley Combating COVID-19
Silicon Valley is highly regarded as a center of entrepreneurship that has solved many of the world’s problems. Recently, these innovators have shifted their attention to COVID-19 through a variety of strategies like creating safer and more efficient ways to treat patients, shortening the supply chain of personal protective equipment and donating money to help mitigate the virus’ effects. The sector boasts produces $275 billion in profit every year, deeming it one of the wealthiest regions on Earth and underscoring its immense financial power. Silicon Valley is mobilizing its resources to create innovations and provide financial firepower to help eliminate the virus globally. Here are three ways Silicon Valley is combating COVID-19.

Robots

Robot production, an already increasingly popular industry worldwide, is playing a significant role in COVID-19 prevention. Robots are capable of performing a myriad of tasks that could help mitigate the virus. For example, machines programmed with ultraviolet disinfection techniques are being used to clean medical areas in a way that is faster and more effective than human workers. Knightscope, a Silicon Valley company that produces security robots, recently updated its fleet to spread COVID-19 information through speaker systems.

Robots have proven especially beneficial in many developing countries for disinfection and testing purposes, highlighting how technology  can help the impoverished. In Rwanda, for instance, robots record temperatures and deliver supplies to medical facilities across the capital city of Kigali. Similarly, Egypt is using remote-controlled robots to administer COVID-19 tests to minimize the risk of virus transmission during testing. With technological innovations like these from Silicon Valley, there is hope for reducing the spread of COVID-19 in countries across the world.

3D Printing

Silicon Valley is home to some of the world’s largest 3D printing companies like HP and Formlabs and is widely regarded as the leader of innovation in the field. Now, 3D printers are being used to quickly and affordably generate personal protective equipment such as masks and face shields for health care professionals. 3D printers are especially efficient in bringing needed equipment directly to medical facilities by bypassing government bureaucracy. This is an especially valuable asset for developing nations, as critical supplies are often not available due to government corruption or inadequacy. 3D printing technologies are currently being made more affordable so more developing countries can invest and benefit from their advantages. 3D printing is another way how Silicon Valley is addressing COVID-19 t internationally.

Donations

Many Silicon Valley billionaires have contributed some of the biggest donations for COVID-19 mitigation efforts. These philanthropic actions have shown how Silicon Valley is addressing COVID-19 beyond its technological endeavors. The CEO of tech giant Twitter, for example, has pledged over $1 billion in stock of his online payment company Square to global COVID-19 relief. This donation represents 28% of his wealth, inspiring other tech moguls to make similarly substantial donations. Renowned Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has allocated at least $350 million to COVID-19 relief through Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. However, these generous moves by Silicon Valley elite are not enough: less than 11% of all billionaires have provided financial assistance for COVID-19 relief. With its notorious wealth, Silicon Valley has the power to great;y help solve the world’s problems through philanthropy.

Silicon Valley is combating COVID-19 through its world-renowned innovation and financial capabilities. While robots and 3D printing are especially helpful in supporting the world’s poor in and the fight against COVID_19, these innovations cannot end with the pandemic. To truly eradicate global poverty, Silicon Valley must take a continued vested interest in the world’s poor.

– Garrett O’Brien
Photo: Flickr

Equal Food Distribution
One of the leading causes of malnutrition is the lack of equal food distribution. According to the World Economic Forum, Americans spend 6.4 percent of their income on food. Meanwhile, households in impoverished countries can spend up to 80 percent of their income on food. These numbers show a clear uneven trend in distributing food to people in need. Equal food distribution is also at risk from another influencer on poverty: population growth. Even in developed countries, the current rate of food distribution will eventually be unable to keep up with population growth. Distributing food to people in need will soon become an issue for not just underdeveloped countries, but for developed countries as well. 

One way of solving the growing issue of food distribution is through the utilization of new technologies. A combination of developing technologies, new economic models and support from global leaders could lead to curbing the problems behind food distribution for both the developing and underdeveloped world.

Text Message-based Farmer Assistance

In Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, farmers have access to a service that functions through text messages. Provided by CGIAR, an organization focused on water, land and ecosystems, farmers can send a message through SMS (short message service) to request updates on the best way to grow their crops. People know this service as ICT, or Information and Communication Technology. According to CGIAR, farmers send one message code when they want to see an update on their crop growth and water-use efficiency compared to other farmers using the service. Based on this data, experts monitoring the farming data can identify irregularities and alert the farmer. One issue that CGIAR sees going forward is funding. Maintaining its database would require more funding than what farmers or smallholders have already offered. However, this service would be able to help farmers, in areas of need, increase the amount their farms produce.

Using ICTs to help feed people in need has shown promising results. An ICT service will help improve irrigation and water drainage in Egypt. This service has seen a 25 percent increase in crop yields during its first phase of implementation. Magrabi Farms has also implemented ICT to allow the proper irrigation of over 8,000 acres of land.

Farming and Machine Learning

Increasing farm production is a common method of tackling the issue of distributing food to people in need. Sciforce says that almost every step of farm production uses machine learning. Machine learning, according to Sciforce, is “the scientific field that gives machines the ability to learn without being strictly programmed.” Farmers can use machine learning to:

  • Find which genes would help a crop survive in adverse weather conditions.

  • Manage the soil and help farmers understand the ecosystem they are growing in.

  • Manage water and allow farmers to be more efficient with their irrigation systems.

  • Improve the prediction of crop yield.

  • Fight disease and weeds by using a calculated distribution of agrochemicals that only target specific plants.

Machine learning accomplishes all of this by analyzing decades of farming records. It uses a combination of algorithms and scientific models to best apply the trends from decades of farming data.

NBC News reported that Carnegie Mellon University roboticist George Kantor claimed that machine learning could increase the variety of grain sorghum from 100 different variants to 1,000. Machine learning could do this by examining the crop’s genetic code.

Weather Forecasts

Another way to ensure that countries are able to distribute food to people in need is by improving distribution itself. The Weather Company’s Agricultural Head, Carrie Gillespie, stated that “A lot of food waste happens during distribution…” Suppliers often use weather forecasts when distributing food to people in need. Due to distribution including the harvesting process, these weather reports can help farmers know when the soil is at its best for harvesting.

3D Printing

While this may seem like an idea from a sci-fi movie, 3D printing is a technology that may soon allow food printing. Jordan French, CEO at a 3D food printing startup called BeeHex, explains that 3D food printing could allow for customization of food products based on the certain wants and needs of the consumer. This could include developing food with certain nutrients that an impoverished community may be lacking, much like the recently FDA-approved golden rice, which emerged to treat a global vitamin A deficiency.

Jordan French also theorizes that 3D printing food could eliminate the need for distribution altogether, as it would create a bridge between the producer and the consumer.

The market for 3D-printed food is rising in profits by 46 percent each year until 2023. Mark Crawford of ASME.org alludes that this is due to how the technology could provide a solution to distributing food to people in need.

These technologies aim to tackle the challenges of distributing food to the impoverished for the sake of equal food distribution. Improving farming quality through databases and machine learning, watching the weather to allow for better distribution and even bypassing the need for food production are just some developing technologies that have the potential to assist the world’s hungry.

Jacob Creswell
Photo: United Nations

How the Media Misrepresents El SalvadorLatin American countries tend to be represented as third-world countries compared to more prosperous ones like the United States. El Salvador is not exempt from such narratives. One such way that the media misrepresents El Salvador is by only covering the negative aspects of the news and not the positive. Some of the negative portrayals include stories about drugs, murders and gang violence.

A Better Future for Salvadorans

While there is this negativity present, there is also a garment factory that is trying to help turn the life of its workers around. This garment factory hired people “who are normally left out of society, including ex-gang members,” according to PBS News Hour. The factory combines school and works to give El Salvador a brighter future.

The factory’s general manager, Rodrigo Bolanos, said, “I saw the American dream, where lower- and middle-class kids can work and study at night in community colleges. And for me, that is a good way to resolve and to give the American dream right here in El Salvador to all these poor people.”

Carlos Arguetta, a previous gang member, wore long sleeves to his interview to try to cover up his tattoos, as described in the report. Through an interpreter, Arguetta stated that if he “didn’t have a job like this one, [he] would probably still be part of the gang and be doing killings.”

Improving Living Conditions in Slums

Another way that the media misrepresents El Salvador is in the way that its citizens live. Descriptions of wooden shacks are abundant when describing living conditions. While that might be true, there are two companies that are trying to change the places that Salvadorans live in.

Recently, a Texas-based construction technology company by the name of ICON partnered with New Story, a company that builds homes in developing countries, in order to provide better living conditions for those stuck in the El Salvador slums. ICON and New Story plan to transport a 3D-printer in order to produce 3D-printed homes for people at a highly reduced building cost.

The companies hope to give people who live in the slums an opportunity to live in a safer housing environment. As reported by Arab News, the mixture that produces the homes contains “a mix of concrete, water and other materials [that] are pumped through the 3D-printer.” The mixture hardens as it is being printed. It only takes 48 hours for a house to be built from the ground up. This is a much better alternative to makeshift shacks that citizens currently live in.

Using Art to Combat Violence

The final persistent misrepresentation of El Salvador in the media is the violence, and while the violence does occur, the nation is often presented as inescapable. However, art is one way that Salvadorans are able to escape their realities.

Marco Paíz is an artist and organizer of a festival by the name of “Sombrilla Fest,” or umbrella fest. It is a festival that is part of a bigger celebration called the World Social Circus Day, which takes place annually on April 7. This day is organized to be an international day to spread joy and is celebrated by 20 nations worldwide.

The goal of the festival is to have people “take over these spaces and these activities so that they [can] come out of the darkness of the violence that surrounds the country,” said Marco Paíz to TeleSur. It can also be an opportunity to motivate Salvadorans to learn the artistic practices so that they are able to improve their own living situation.

Despite the ways in which the media misrepresents El Salvador, there are numerous positive developments happening across this Central American nation.

– Valeria Flores

Photo: Flickr

Oxfam Uses 3D PrintingWith advances in modern technology, there has been a rise in the use of 3D printing by companies and individuals. The nonprofit and humanitarian sectors have begun using the technology in order to better achieve their goals. Oxfam is one of the nonprofit humanitarian organizations that has been trialing 3D printing to help with its disaster relief measures.

How Oxfam uses 3D printing is not a new concept; many other organizations have attempted to use the technology or are latching onto the idea of creating aid items in the area instead of having to ship them.

According to the Oxfam U.K. website, in 2014, Oxfam teamed with a design company called iMakr and asked its supporters with engineering and design expertise to help. The goal is to ultimately use 3D printing to print materials at the disaster site instead of having to ship everything there.

They want to use 3D printing to print their WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) kits. Not only would the kits save time, they would also save money in the long run for the organization, allowing for that money to be used elsewhere by Oxfam to conduct its mission.

Oxfam did a test run with 3D printing after the earthquake in Nepal. They used it for small parts that people may need, such as parts for water pipes. They worked with FieldReady, a nonprofit that specializes in using 3D printing and new technologies in its work.

FieldReady was using 3D printing to print medical tools and supplies in Nepal after the earthquake, showing that 3D printing can be expanded from just kits. It can also be used to make tools and instruments that are fully functional in everyday life. 3D printing by Oxfam was also trialed in Sri Lanka to help support a dam.

There is still a long way to go to see how Oxfam uses 3D printing in the future and it will be interesting to see if they will continue to lead the way with innovations in technology. While 3D printing is relatively new, other organizations can follow Oxfam’s model and try to use them and mold them to their missions in order to become more efficient and effective.

Emilia Beuger

Photo: Pixabay


The World Health Organization estimates that about 30 million people are in need of a prosthesis, but in many developing countries, less than 10 percent of those who require assistive devices and technologies have access to them. Braces and artificial limbs are among the most desperately needed medical devices. This shortage is due to a lack of expertise to produce and fit prosthetics in developing countries, as well as the time and financial cost to patients. Recent advances in 3D-printed prosthetic limbs might provide a solution to this problem.

Increase in Necessity

Disability is an important developmental issue because people with disabilities experience grim socioeconomic outcomes and poverty as they face extra barriers to healthcare, education, and employment. Without prosthetics, those that have lost limbs due to war, accidents or disease are entirely reliant on others for survival.

This is an especially pressing issue due to the recent spike in the use of landmines in several war-torn countries. Stepping on a landmine invariably causes foot and leg injuries, and secondary infections usually result in amputations. A report by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines found that in 2016, global landmine casualties were at a 10-year high, and funding for landmine clearance campaigns was at a 10-year low. While the Mine Ban Treaty banned the use of antipersonnel mines in 1999, armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen contributed to a sharp spike in the number of people killed and injured by mines.

Children living in these areas are particularly vulnerable to landmines. For example, in Afghanistan, children made up 45 percent of the civilian landmine casualties reported in 2014. Children are more likely to die from the injuries sustained in a landmine explosion. Of those maimed children who survive, few will be in a position to receive prostheses that can keep up with their growth. This is where 3D-printed prosthetic limbs can make a big difference.

Who’s Making Them?

Programs like 3D PrintAbility, Project Daniel, Cyborg Beast, and Enabling the Future are working to provide affordable and reliable 3D-printed prosthetics in developing countries. Traditionally, creating a prosthesis is a cumbersome process that can take several days. With 3D printing, this process is shortened considerably. The residual limb is scanned, creating a 3D model that can be customized to fit the patient. The prosthetic is then printed in about six hours.

As with many new technologies, there are still several issues to finalize, in terms of testing the prosthetics, making the technology available in areas of need, and training personnel to use the equipment. However, 3D-printed prosthetic limbs are a great example of how technology provides novel ways to improve lives.

Helena Kamper

Photo: Flickr

MyPo
The Paraguayan nonprofit organization Po in collaboration with Thalmic Labs are using 3D technology to provide MyPo, an advanced type of prosthetic, to low-income people in the country.

According to the co-founder of Po, Eric Dijkhunis, there is a high percentage of limb amputations in the country because of unsafe work conditions and frequent motorcycle accidents. Unfortunately, less than one percent of people who have limb amputations are able to afford a prosthetic. Po claims it can make more than 100 3D printed prosthetics at the cost of one traditional model.

MyPo 3D Printing

3D printed prosthetics have many advantages over traditional ones. 3D printing allows those in need to receive their limb faster and cheaper. Cost is especially challenging for Paraguayans. Just one traditional upper limb prosthetics on average cost between $30,00 to $80,000. Even more problematic is the fact that prosthetics are not a one-time purchase. Prosthetics must be replaced after several years. Also, parents of children with an amputation must buy different prosthetics as the child grows and develops. However, a 3D printed limbs can cost less than $200.

Initially, Po only produced basic 3D printed prosthetics that could be personalized. Patients are encouraged to choose the colors and the design on their model. Recently, Po paired up with the Thalmic Labs to make the MyPo, a 3D printed prosthetics that uses bioelectric technology. The device moves based on bioelectric signals sent from the amputee’s muscles. Additionally, the MyPo can be paired with Thalmic Labs’ Myo armband which allows human movement to control electronic devices. Not only is it functional, but the MyPo is comfortable and easy to use even for those who are not tech savvy. It will be sold at a relatively cheap price and a portion will be subsidized by private donations. They are currently trying to raise $50,000 for their Indiegogo campaign and have already reached $35,000 with 160 donators.

As of November of this year, five people are testing the MyPo. Po-partner organizations are duplicating the MyPo model in Argentina and Brazil. Dijkhunis encourages people in other countries to use this technology, he says “We believe that these technologies applied to social impact are not only disrupting an industry, but are rewriting the rules of the game for the future of prosthetics, and handing the power of innovation to people all around the world.”

Paraguay is not the only country with such a high volume of amputees who cannot afford a prosthetic, but the MyPo model can provide millions around the world an affordable and advanced prosthetic.

Karla Umanzor

Photo: Flickr

3D Printing Solutions
It may be difficult to determine what the World’s Advanced Saving Project (WASP) does from looking at its name. One might assume the organization focuses on environmental issues or poverty reduction, which is essentially correct, but the way WASP operates makes it unique. WASP is a tech company that creates 3D printing solutions with a focus on sustainability.

Like many innovative tech companies, WASP specializes in building 3D printers. Taking things further, the organization produced a 3D printer capable of creating a house. The 40-foot tall printer, named “Big Delta” by its creators, is claimed to be one of the largest in the world. By simply putting a clay and straw mixture into the printer, Big Delta can create a shelter in a few days.

While this is exciting news, there are currently several other companies that are capable of building shelters, often in less than a day. Big Delta and WASP outshine other companies at their price point. WASP calculates that with the costs of clay, straw, water and energy, a shelter can be printed for around $55. Furthermore, if the clay and straw combination is manually mixed, it can reduce energy costs dramatically.

For many, the idea of living in a straw/clay hut may not seem very appealing, yet for many others, any form of structurally stable housing would be a dream come true. According to WHO, nearly 863 million people live in slum housing.

Slum housing is defined as housing that lacks certain characteristics that make it durable such as access to water, sanitation, adequate space or ventilation. Additionally, over 100 million people worldwide are thought to be homeless according to the most recent U.N. global survey.

Those who are considered homeless by the U.N., people displaced by natural disasters, political instability or a variety of other factors, could benefit tremendously from fast, cheap and stable housing. With the Big Delta, WASP is just one of many organizations working to provide reliable, yet affordable housing to those in need. A 3D printed shelter may not be the best form of housing for every situation; however, it could be a good option for those in developing countries who have extremely limited income.

As innovation advances and technology improves, it is good to see that some companies are shifting focus and addressing world issues like poverty and sustainability. Who knows, in the next decade, advanced technology may allow people to 3D print entire buildings or even hospitals for a relatively low cost.

Weston Northrop

Photo: Flickr

The Rise of 3D Printing in the Middle East and Africa 1The budget allocated for 3D printing in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is reported to increase from $47 million to $1.3 billion over the 2015-2019 period, according to the Semiannual 3D Printing Guide published by the International Data Corporation (IDC). This guide is a framework that provides IT technicians with a focused perspective on where 3D printing expenditure should be heading over the next five years.

The growing use of 3D printing in MEA, as stated in an article by IT News for Africa on Feb.24, 2016, is predicted to have positive impacts on various fields including the manufacturing industry. According to IDC’s analysis, 3D printing enables products to be customized based on individual markets’ needs.

While the research firm expects to see Asia-Pacific as the major contributor to the implementation of this new technology, it indicates that “MEA will maintain its position as a frontrunner in this space, and its share of global 3D printing spend is expected to grow from 4.3 percent in 2014 to 5.0 percent by 2019.”

Martin Kuban, a senior research analyst with IDC Manufacturing Insights, further explained the versatility of the 3D printing technology, stating that apart from the straightforward applications within the automotive and aerospace industries, tech experts are anticipating “innovative and potentially transformative 3D printing deployments among medical suppliers, electronics manufacturers, and tools and components manufacturers.”

Recently, 3D printing in the Middle East and Africa has demonstrated its transformative powers. On Dec. 28, 2015, the BBC reported a groundbreaking initiative by the Institute of Digital Archaeology: A destroyed Syrian heritage site will be recreated from 2D images using a 3D printer.

The heritage site, a 2,000-year-old arch in the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria, was destroyed by the Islamic State group last summer. The Institute of Digital Archaeology, led by Harvard University, the University of Oxford and the Museum of the Future in Dubai will 3D-print replicas of this historic monument during UNESCO’s World Heritage Week in April of this year, as reported by the Washington Post in a Jan. 7, 2016 article.

The forthcoming recreation of the Arch of Palmyra, according to the Washington Post, belongs to a larger effort called the Million Image Database made possible by the Institute for Digital Archaeology and UNESCO. This collaboration aims to preserve and restore historical landmarks in the Middle East and Africa, as stated on the project’s website.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Alexy Karenowska, director of technology at the Institute for Digital Archaeology, said that the ultimate goal of the project is “to draw international attention to the global crisis surrounding the looting and destruction of cultural heritage objects and architecture.” Karenowska believes that it is important “to celebrate the beauty and significance of these objects to the everyday lives of modern people.”

This event demonstrates only one way in which the development of 3D printing in the Middle East and Africa can have a huge impact. Given increasing financial support, this advanced tool has the power to affect the economy, education, health, history and culture.

Hoa Nguyen

Sources: IDC-CEMA , IT News Africa, BBC, Digital Archaeology, Washington Post
Photo: Wikimedia Commons