GE Garages to build tech, business skills in Kenya

July 24th, 2015
GE Africa and Gearbox have launched a ‘GE Garages’ manufacturing program to help build a skilled workforce and drive entrepreneurial development in Kenya in order to support the development of a manufacturing ecosystem and build skills in the region.

The GE Garages – Nairobi would contribute to bridging the technical skills gap in Kenya. According to the National Manpower Survey, the percentage of vacant posts in the transport sector is 2.8%. While the Oil and Gas Sector will create between 6,000 and 15,000 new jobs over the next ten years with the majority requiring technical or vocational training. The GE Garages space, which will be hosted at Gearbox’s premises, will support classes and workshops, for students, entrepreneurs, makers and others to learn more about advanced manufacturing processes, software programming and business development. It will feature advanced manufacturing innovations like 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC mills for the industrial world to encourage entrepreneurial disruption and a skilled workforce for the future.

Speaking at a media event to announce the initiative, Dr Kamau Gachigi, CEO of Gearbox said Gearbox is very excited about this relationship as it central to their objective of democratising access to opportunities in industrialisation. Gearbox is in the process of assembling a formidable arsenal of modern machines and CAD/CAM software for digital fabrication, alongside more traditional but essential technologies, all under one roof to be made accessible on a membership basis to people who currently have no such opportunity. They will need to be trained on the use of this state-of-the-art equipment, but also in the soft skills that are necessary to leverage the tech-knowledge so as to successfully launch businesses. This partnership serves both needs. The provision of a GE Garage at Gearbox is essential to developing a continuous pipeline of people skilled in modern technologies and prepared to deliver tech solutions through business, who will serve as the “army” that will enable industrialisation on the scale that is required for our national development. The proposed Garages training facility will be within the Nairobi location of Gearbox. GE would provide the necessary equipment while University of Nairobi, Technical University of Kenya and Seven Seas Technologies will provide input to program as well as training facilities.

“We are delighted to collaborate with like-minded establishments on an initiative that aims to make more Kenyan youth employable in a fast changing technology-driven world” said President & CEO, GE Africa, Jay Ireland. “I’m looking forward to seeing great ideas that come to the GE Garage being transformed into practical business models that ultimately create more jobs in Kenya.

GE created the Garages experience in March 2012 to reinvigorate interest in invention, innovation, and manufacturing in America. Programs have included custom projects, curated speaker sessions and workshops amidst a fully equipped advanced manufacturing space, including hardware such as CNC mills, laser cutters, 3D printers, injection moulders, Arduino kits and much more. This program went global with a workshop in Lagos Nigeria in 2014 and has since grown to include several countries in Europe and the Middle-East.

Professor Lucy Irungu, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Nairobi, welcomes this collaboration which she sees a great opportunity for engineering students, supervised by the engineering faculty at the University, to gain access to modern equipment and methods that will ensure their undergraduate and post-graduate projects have greater impact on the region’s economic needs.

The GE Garages -Nairobi program truly brings to life the ‘Empower’ pillar of GE Africa’s CSR platform ‘GE Kujenga’  said Patricia Obozuwa, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, GE Africa. She stated that GE’s approach to investing in our communities is to empower people by building valuable skills, equip communities with new tools and technology, and elevate ideas that help solve Africa’s challenges.  We will continue working with Government, institutions, communities and private-sector peers to help bring sustainable and transformative development.

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