Africa Budget

From Open Source Ecology
Jump to: navigation, search


This is the case for building an open source, green microfactory to reinvent the world. The microfactory would produce CEB presses, tractors, and other equipment and training necessary for resilient CEB construction. It is largely off-grid, and largely independent of weak supply chains.

I have heard many stories of third world aid projects which bring industrial equipment to Africa - but for reasons of supply chains or lack of social assessment - there are thousands of broken machines scattered through Africa because the technology was not appropriated by the local population - or parts were not available and as soon as the machine broke it could not be repaired.

To address the issue of supply chains - it is important that any equipment sent to Africa is sent with an infrastructure for both building the equipment from scratch, and for educating local people of how to do this.

OSE's answer to this is the open source microfactory - where the tools in the open source microfactory are used to build machines and service them. Further, the OSE Microfactory would be staffed by OSE, to assure that locals are trained - to do 4 things:

  1. Build and maintain the production machines
  2. Build and maintain the machines that are produced
  3. Operate the machines
  4. Start enterprises (1) producing both production and end-use machines, (2) running enterprises that use the resulting machines, (3) and (3) building replication facilities for training and production in other locations


2018 notes: The only way that any technology project will work in an area devoid of easily-available industrialized supply chains is if we build the off-grid microfactories so we can produce our own parts including engines and hydraulics. This allows leapfrogging of dependence on industrialized world supply chains, and is the only way this project could work in the 5 year term. As I outlined before, it would be 3 years to the basic off-grid microfactory. It would take another 2-3 years from there to get to producing our own parts. This is what we are trying to sell, so if the question is can we deliver, I just ask if we have a budget to do this. And to the client - the question is do they want to support this. The pilot here is to demonstrate that industrial productivity can be achieved on a small scale, and that it can be done with basic training if open source know-how is available.

Use Case

For a facility that produces CEB Machines and other supporting construction equipment necessary for building with CEBs, we propose to build a facility that uses all open source equipment, that is land-based, and that is made from the CEBs themselves.


Description of facility:

  • 4000 square feet, with CEB walls, similar to the existing 4000 sf workshop at Open Source Ecology
  • Off-grid - includes 100kW of PV energy and 50kWhr of nickel-iron battery storage. Double this would be useful, adding $50k more to the budget
  • Based on 40 acres to include integrated agriculture as part of the operation

Equipment Base

  • Manufacturing/Construction equipment:
  • CNC Torch Table - $3k
  • Oxyhydrogen production - $1k
  • CNC multimachine - $3k
  • 3D Printer, circuit mill, small laser cutter, filament maker, plastic shredder (desktop microfactory) - $3.5k
  • Charcoal maker - $2k
  • Gasifier + engines - $4k
  • Tractor - $10k
  • Bulldozer - $30k
  • Backhoe - $5k
  • Soil Mixer/Conditioner - $5k
  • CEB Press - $7k (on trailer)
  • Welders - $4k
  • Hand tools and power tools - $4k
  • Ironworker machine - $3k

Total - about $100k



  • PV - $50k (100kW) (includes mounting + inverters)
  • Batteries - $20k ($40k for 100kWhr)
  • Powered by gasifier system - if budget is low, but is not as environmentally sound depending on location
  • Roof - $5k
  • Windows, doors, lumber - $5k
  • Foundation - $5k
  • Electrical - $2k
  • Walls - $5k
  • Labor - $10k

Total: About $100k (or $150k with more PV/storage)

Timeline -

  • Year 1 - recruiting team; engineering development; training OSE Fellows
  • Year 2 - 3 Fellows arrive on site in Year 2 to build facility, and contract local labor
  • All equipment delivered on site for Year 2
  • Year 3 - Microfactory interior buildout and beginning of training program

Budget Narrative

The idea is to build a microfactory based on open source equipment, using the simplest possible design - using common, off-the shelf parts, or using parts that can be manufactured readily in the microfactory itself. That capacity includes CNC torching, CNC machining, circuit fabrication, and 3D printing. Local plastic waste can be used to produce 3D printing filament. Circuits can be built from off-shelf components. Replacement parts can be CNC machined. The only local requirements are steel and concrete. A supply of virgin steel must be available. Otherwise, the facility is autonomous on the electricity, fuel, and machine/parts supply chains by being able to use commonly-available materials.

OSE has done a decade of R&D, with the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) being 33% complete - see GVCS Completion Status. The project is under active development. To produce a robust open source microfactory, the machines involved need to be perfected. To this end, the budget involves 7 full time engineers for the first year, to handle each of the 7 main machine areas:

  • Tractor + Power Cube + Backhoe
  • Bulldozer
  • Brick press + soil conditioner
  • Inverter + Welder
  • Gasifier + Charcoal production. Assuming biomass is available, charcoal production and gasification is a source of flowable fuel for engine power (production machines, tractors)
  • CNC Torch Table + Oxyhydrogen Production + Ironworker machine
  • Welders + open source 3d printed hand tools - Power Tool Construction Set + cordless drills, saws, etc

Once the technology is perfected, we send 3 trained OSE Fellows to the site of interest. They build the Microfactory in 1 year using the open source equipment (tractor, bulldozer, backhoe, CEB press, Soil Mixer, other tools). In year 2, the facility is populated with the equipment (CNC torch, oxyhydrogen production,


To replicate a heavy machine production digital microfactory in Africa as of 2018 would require the following over 3 years. Assumptions:

  • Ability to source virgin steel
  • Autonomy on off-grid equipment, facility, energy.
  • Land-based facility integrated with regenerative agriculture.
  • OSE Fellows and their tuition are funded for 3 years with financial sustainability in year 3

Year 1

  • 7 full time engineers @ $100k/yr - $700k
  • OSE Fellows Tuition for training program x3 - $19.5k
  • Fellows Stipend x3 @$4k/mo - $150k

Subtotal - $870k

Year 2-3

  • Open Source Equipment (tractor, dozer, backhoe, CEB, mixer, gasifier, CNC torch, welder, CNC multimachine, oxyhydrogen production, gasifier, charcoal maker + BOS) - $100k
  • Open Source Facility (4000 sf, off grid PV + nickel iron batteries, CEB structure + BOS) - $100k
  • Transport - 2 containers - $20k
  • Staff + admin, 3 years - $125k
  • OSE Fellows Tuition x3 - $19.5k
  • Fellows Stipend x3 @$6k/mo - $360k
  • Travel x4, 2x per year, $2k a pop - $32k
  • Land, 40 acres (donated)

Subtotal - $757k

Total - $1.6M


  • Should add 50% to facility and equipment cost (another $100k) to take care of overruns
  • Hiring risks - finding qualified designers/engineers
  • Hiring risks - finding qualified OSE Fellows
  • Enterprise risks - viability of the business model that has worked in the USA (Extreme Manufacturing) but may not work in Africa
  • This has never been done before. But we can either sell sugar water, or take a chance to change the world.

Business Model of Facility

  • Facility produces CEB block, rents machines, does training programs and training workshops, trains foreign aid workers in field work, produces machines, runs OSE Fellow training programs
  • Baseline: 3 OSE Fellows run training operations for producers, entreprenuers, builders; also they run Extreme Manufacturing Workshops for clients - a model that we have proven in the USA

White Paper Draft