“My vision for Voices of Africa is to use the charity as a vehicle for starting sustainable technology projects that help youth and women to have better standards of living. Our plan for 2017 is to start the first technical hub specifically geared towards making for medical applications in Africa. I also hope we can continue and expand our educational offerings and support the causes we care about.”
Crystal Kigoni is a development consultant professional, who worked with a large variety of organizations focusing on project management, communications, and the utilization of technology. With more than sixteen years of consulting experience, including nine years in East Africa , she had developed a varied and useful set of skills for the most challenging of environments and assignments. Crystal Kigoni will be a speaker for #3DHEALS2017 .
Q: What is your vision on the intersection of 3D Printing and healthcare?
A: 3D printing has the ability to make once impossible dreams in healthcare come to life. As this technology grows and progresses it will find more and more applications and use cases. The use cases for its potential in Africa are endless.
Q: What do you specialize in? What is your passion?
A: I specialize in 3D printed medical tools for the five most pressing preventable healthcare challenges in Africa: lack of breathing at birth, infections, malaria, premature birth, HIV/AIDS. I am passionate about finding ways to save lives and empowering people to take control of their lives and health using technology.
Q: What inspired you to do what you do?
A: I was inspired to start researching how to 3D print medical tools in Sub Saharan Africa after doing research projects on the problem in the availability of supplies on the village level from actually working on the villages in rural Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. The inspiration grew from an inkling to an obsession when I myself had to go to a rural hospital and have 2 operations for which the hospital was lacking basic tools and drugs. It was a teaching hospital and the nursing students lacked any kind of medical models. I came to understand that
Q: What is the biggest potential impact you see 3D printing having on the healthcare industry?
A: In Africa, 3D printing technology can completely change the supply chain and how supplies are managed on a local level. It reduces logistical expenses and the cost of importation. Other than the fiscal costs of importation, the current supply chain costs in terms of local industrial employment, local skills development, and many children die while waiting for supplies to be delivered. It has been estimated that more than 3 million children lose their lives internationally due to simple preventable medical problems and the lack of equipment and supplies to save lives.
Q: What challenges do you see arising in implementing 3D printing in healthcare sector in the next 5 years? Esp in Africa?
A: The challenges of implementing 3D printing in health in Africa are immense. There are issues with how to source the printers and get them into the country. We are working towards local manufacture, but then if the printers are in rural areas how do we provide support and services. So very few people know about 3D printing, and it is almost as if we are starting right now in building a brand new ecosystem that didn’t exist even 2 years ago. The lack of knowledge of 3D printing and the lack of skills applicable to its application are our greatest challenges. AS with any technology project in Tanzania, we still battle regularly with power outages and other inconveniences from poor infrastructure that delay our work. Legally, the policy environment needs to grow to include the potentially individualized locally made products while still protecting consumers. That legislation has not yet been written or passed anywhere in Africa.
Q: What is the best business lesson you have learned?
A: The best business lesson I think I have learned is that not everyone will be ready to support a disruptive new idea at first. There is much more to the diffusion of a technology than just sales. Building a brand new market in a blue ocean of chance is a beautiful opportunity and a real challenge all the same.
Q: What is the biggest business risk you have taken?
A: The biggest risk I have taken for my work was moving to East Africa. I still feel like I am taking risks for my work daily.
Q: What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome on your innovative journey?
A: The biggest challenges I have had to overcome are ignorance, prejudice, and stereotypes. We are still overcoming these issues so I continue to work towards lessening them for myself and others to come.
Q: What is your vision for Voices of Africa?
A: My vision for Voices of Africa is to use the charity as a vehicle for starting sustainable technology projects that help youth and women to have better standards of living. Our plan for 2017 is to start the first technical hub specifically geared towards making for medical applications in Africa. I also hope we can continue and expand our educational offerings and support the causes we care about.