On the 25 and 26th we had meetings with HR&A. These meetings were an eye opener for me since I got the insight of the American construction industry. While HR&A wanted to fully understand their mandate and also present some of the initial works, they also were making proposals on the way forward before ground breaking late October/early November. They used 3D printing to develop the Pavilion model. We were curious and wanted to know more.
In one of their works, the Barclays Centre in New York City, everything was done with the use of technology. Each part that went into building the massive center was bar coded and placed exactly how the model was developed on the computer. The roof material which had decra-like material had all the pieces barcoded 3D printed and placed where it was meant to be. There are no estimates. If you have built in Kenya you know what this method would do to efficiencies in building. There was no “Mzee Mabati haikutosha”. This is precision building.
This new technology is changing and will change the world as we know it. In the past nine of my speeches I have mentioned eight times but nobody ever bothered to fully understand what it is and how we can leverage on this. The technology defies the rule of economies of scale. It is precisely like any printer where the cost of one copy remains the same till the last copy. This means even a small scale producer can be as efficient as a large scale producer. It means when you build, you go to a small scale producer and print the number of “Mabatis” you need including angle cuts that is usually the bulk of our waste in construction.
The printer works with a new software code in different prints. This is where we shall need millions of software coders for different jobs. In building a house you need floor and roof tiles, ceiling, timber, cement, etc. Each of the material would need a new software code. I asked the consultants to make a presentation to one of the Universities when they come towards the end of the month. Architects, quantity surveyors, Civil Engineers must get themselves acquainted with the technology before they find themselves irrelevant.
Action: We must get Universities adopting these new technologies now. Already we are working with Dr. Gachigi at University of Nairobi to get to do something tangible before Private Sector jumps in. We are desperately trying to raise Ksh. 15 million to buy a 3D printer for a research project in circuitry. This is what will translate to jobs both in software and manufacture of many items. We could start this project with as little as Ksh. 4 million. If you feel we can get together and raise the amount, please say it. The bureaucracy in Government will take far too long to raise the funds.
If you want to know more about 3D printing sometimes referred to additive manufacturing or computer assisted design, there is a comprehensive coverage of it in one of the past Economist. You can start with Wikipedia.
Last part of the series “Taking Care of the Future” coming up in a few days.
Through HR&A our Master Developer at Konza we met two agencies today in New York involved with the development of a futuristic New York that will be competitive in the next 50 years.
Hudson Yards Development Corporation was created by Mayor Bloomberg to redevelop a section of New York that was their industrial area. It covers approximately 300 acres with mostly non high rise buildings. The city now wants high rises to meet future office demands.
Here they are buying back most of the land while developing modern infrastructure including the subway. Consultants are working day and night to ensure the redeveloped area meets current and future needs.
Later we visited the New York City Development Corporation charged with NY’s future competitiveness. They noted that in 1890, NY was basically a trading centre. In the 1940s, it became an Industrial City and today it is largely a financial and services city. They now want to switch gears to a more technology city.
Through a competitive process, they have put together a number of universities to deliberately steer NY into another Silicon Valley. Cornell University is paired with Israel Institute of Technology to deliberately create multi disciplinary programs in applied sciences and entrepreneurship. NY University too will partner with other global centres of excellence such as Indian Institute of Technology to also focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.
To help create a competitive future, the city will give free land and other incentives. They are demolishing one of the hospitals in order to create space for a futuristic project. Each of the different university grouping will focus in a specialized area that will be critical in the days to come. They are coming up with courses like health analytics, smart cities etc.
This is how in future we can use data to predict our future. This is very critical and many lessons for developing countries. As we continue to do things the same way it has always been done, things remain the same and this ain’t good at all. We need to leverage on what we have and do a little more.
In the evening I attended a UN sponsored launch of Better than Cash Alliance at the Ford Foundation. Here speaker after speaker they lauded Kenya for its contribution towards mobile money. Our own Michael Joseph (former Safaricom CEO) was in attendance. This was a launch to scale up what has been successful in Kenya (75% of mobile money transactions world wide happens in Kenya). We shall see many researchers coming to Kenya. We must move up the ladder through research and begin to lead the rest of the world.
Instead of spending many hours arguing the merits and demerits of SAP training some Kenyans we need a mobile payroll system that can be integrated with Government’s Integrated Financial Management System.
When Matatus were introduced, there was a regulated transport system in Kenya. Buses could not just stop anywhere. They were like the proprietary software. Mini buses could stop anywhere and charged based on distance travelled and eventually dealt a blow to buses in urban centres. The rest today is history.