ARO FabLab is a fabrication laboratory operating under Arc Kenya umbrella, Arc Kenya is a non-profit making organization whose activities are largely based on and directly geared to promote, support and sustain safe and clean environment.

The lab is located within ARO Centre in Majiwa  village, a sparsely settled rural location along Kisumu-Bondo road approximately 50 km from Kisumu City. This was the first lab to be deployed in Kenya in the year 2009, and was sponsored financially by the government of Norway through NORAD, it is a test case for technology-enabled rural business generation and for more FabLabs in Kenya and Africa throughout.

Why the choise of rural location?

ARC Kenya focuses on the rural development and this informed our decision to establish the lab within the rural commmunity. The main purpose is to open the local communities for self empowerment, innovation and creativity and also to bridge the digital divide.

 

This facility is furnished with regular FabLab machines, components and equipment : computers, a Modella milling machine, vinyl cutter, laser cutter, full electronics bench and some secondary manual equipment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mission:

          FabLabs are global network of labs enabling invention and providing access for individuals to tools for digital fabrication.

Who can use the lab?

 The lab can be used by all categories of people including children, students, researchers, designers, entrepreneurs, artisans and any other group interested in innovations.

 

 

Education:

Training in FabLab is based on doing projects and learning from peers, you are expected to contribute to documentation and instruction.

 

Responsibilities:

Safety-: Knowing how to work without hurting people or machines.

Cleaning up-: leave the lab cleaner than you found it.

Operations-: assisting with maintaining, repairing and reporting on tools, supplies and incidents.

Secrecy-: designs and processes developed in FabLab must remain available for individual use although intellectual property can be protected however you choose.

 

Business-:

Commercial activities can be incubated in FabLabs but they must not conflict with open access they should grow beyond rather than within FabLab, and they are expected to benefit the inventors, lab and networks that contributed to their success.

Owing to ARO FabLab locality, the globalization aspect here has to be strongly and deliberately blended into a localized scope to bridge the gap between a traditionally conceptualized artwork/handwork and   digital fabrication techniques practically demonstrated. We are in the third world where as we all know, the electronics technology evolution is outpacing us so fast, intellectually and economically, for those who are lucky enough they occasionally interact with it on the backgrounds of social arena as end product consumers.

 

 

Since its inception ARO FabLab has been struggling to widen and create an open forum platform where designers, innovators and researchers from different backgrounds, classes and cultures would    collaborate, share, create and produce digitally.

 

Though it has been a big challenge integrating culture with technology at one go, most of Arc Kenya programs i.e. Kenya Change Agent, Childcare program has provided us with a strong base while mobilizing the community. It is like bringing two worlds apart together, and the incentives have to be community-driven. Therefore the scope of approach was either from inside-out or from down-upward.

A health survey conducted through Childcare program revealed that 60 % of the kids complaining of eye and chest problems use kerosene lamps as light source for reading. In addition to that 95% of fire breakages in houses are caused by kerosene lamps.  This led to the introduction of solar lamps to the community through FabLab.

Before distributing the lamps to the community FabLab has to perform a number of tests to ensure that the labeled specifications are met, after which after-sales service could be guaranteed. The FabLab team repairs and modifies solar lamps whenever and where possible.

Through renewable energy ARO FabLab has an objective role to ensure that poverty is reduced and good health attained in the community. But due to lack of funding ARO FabLab cannot realize some of its goals, though action-plan and time frame to achieve self-reliance and sustainability are in place.