Baby Lab is one of the first digital manufacturing laboratories (Fab Lab) in Côte d’Ivoire.
What is a Fab Lab?
The Fab Labs are a worldwide network of local laboratories, which boost inventiveness by providing access to digital manufacturing tools.
A Fab Lab is a place open to everyone where all kinds of tools are available. It is a place for both making objects and sharing knowledge. Anyone, whatever their level of knowledge and means, can come and use the machines to carry out their personal, school or commercial projects, but also to learn and share.
Baby Lab‘s story began on the family yard of Baby Lab’s co-founder and president, Obin Guiako. The centre, created by ten founders, now has about fifty members.
Baby Lab is based in Abobo, Abidjan’s most popular neighborhood, since July 2014. Its creators chose this underprivileged district with the aim of breaking the cliché of an underprivileged district, often linked to banditry. Baby Lab offers young people an introduction to programming, coding, electronics and robotics.
A day at Baby Lab is about sharing of digital resources, it is a common space between several enthusiasts or project leaders. It is also the basic training in electronics, programming as well as the promotion of open source and free software to the general public. The Baby Lab’s usual activities for almost two years have revolved around electronic editing, digital literacy, or the circular economy by recycling computer waste to assemble computers in 20-litre cans, for example. They gather on average 50 and 70 children everyday.
While children of his age play football, 13-year-old Touré Sadia Daniel is focused on a computer at the Baby Lab centre. Today begins with a coding exercise on the Mblock software. Touré Sadia Daniel must combine a set of notes to create a sound signal for a toy.
“I can design games and stories. I master the HTLM language, I’m taking my first steps in website creation”
Despite of his young age, Touré Sadia Daniel was one of the first students at the centre. He is now at level 2 of his training and therefore has a perfect mastery of basic software. His dream is to become a Java developer. To achieve it, he follows a specialized program of two hours a week at the centre.
Rebeca Djidji, a 17-year-old student, like Daniel, is one of the beneficiaries of the training offered by Baby Lab. The girl has developed an application called My Cat: when the screen of a device is touched, you hear a meow. She is the pride of the Fab Lab!
All together, nearly 200 young people have benefited from these free training courses since 2014.
A citizen’s ambition
The centre, a community for free digital manufacturing and the use of free software, has a dream: to help launch other Fab Labs in Côte d’Ivoire, in the field of science and technology. Their objective is to help the African continent to live sustainably and positively its digital transition, and more particularly the one of Côte d’Ivoire. According to them, the digital tool can be a mean to transform every citizen into an entrepreneur of change.
The association was launched with its own funds, then the French government provided financial help. And, since October 2017, the French-Speaking International Organisation (OIF) has awarded it a grant.
“Our dream is to help build the territories of tomorrow that are the Fab Lab to promote science and technology to help the old continent to live sustainably its digital transition. They must be seen as means of socialization to convert every African citizen into an entrepreneur of change.” Obin Guiako, co-founder and president of Baby Lab.
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