Efforts to boost business innovation and entrepreneurship skills have been boosted by the launch of a new digital fabrication laboratory.
The hitech lab unveiled in Kigali on Thursday fuses design and production through the use of computer-aided design and manufacturing ability with help of three-dimensional modeling software.
The software allows designers to produce material digitally.
The facility will enhance business innovation and entrepreneurship in the country, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) vice-president, Hiroshi Kato, said.
“The fabrication lab will play a critical role in boosting the country’s entrepreneurship skills and innovation, especially among the youth,” Kato said during the launch of the fabrication centre in Kacyiru, Gasabo District.
He added that the centre is vital in the creation of ecosystems that will position Rwanda as an innovation hub on the continent.
The facility was developed through collaborative efforts between multiple agencies, including the Private Sector Federation’s ICT chamber, Rwanda Development Board, JICA, the Ministry of Education, Solid Works Corporation, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
According to Prof Neil Gershenfeld, a director at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the laboratory is part of over 1,000 fabrication labs in more than 78 cities across the world.
Kenji Fukuoka, the director of Kobe Institute of Computing, embracing smart technology will help Rwanda unlock its economic potential.
“Rwanda can utilise ICT to solve economic and social challenges. It is, therefore, important that entrepreneurs go digital to improve their operations and help accelerate economic growth,” Fukuoka told The New Times at the launch.
Dr Hamadoun Touré, the executive director of Smart Africa, called for strong partnerships between the public and private sector to help champion innovation and entrepreneurship.
Toure also called for collaboration between public and private sector players and pooling of resources to support development initiatives.
“We cannot underestimate the role of incubation and innovation centres in fast-tracking economic development.
Africa is ready for investment and there is no place better than Rwanda to start implementing these new innovations,” Toure said.
He also called for removal of trade barriers to create room for innovation to ensure sustainable economic growth.
Forging strong economic ties
Meanwhile, JICA is currently working with government and the City of Kobe in Japan on a mechanism that will help strengthen economic ties between the two countries. The two plan to launch a new programme that will help link innovators from Japan with Africa’s entrepreneurs, including those from Rwanda.
Already, with the support of the government of Japan, about 20 Rwandan students are studying ICT for development in Japan, 10 of whom are studying in institutions in Kobe, Japan’s sixth-largest city.
This programme is expected to further create an enabling environment for both KLab and fabrication lab, where young innovators can gain more skills.