Maker Faire Africa (MFA) opened today in Ghana. The event highlights and amplifies the DIY ingenuity of Africans solving African problems. In addition, it is an opportunity for young and seasoned inventors, designers, and makers from Africa and abroad to mix and network and kick ideas around. The dates were chosen to coincide with the International Development and Design Summit (IDDS), which was held in Ghana over the last three weeks.
Maker Faire Africa’s program features several bicycle-related projects. Here is a quick summary of a few.
William Kamkwamba on Building a Windmill
William Kamkwamba was the first speaker at MFA, because his story so perfectly captures the African Maker ethos. When he was just 14 years old, though he had dropped out of school because his large rural subsistance-farming family could not afford school fees, Malawian inventor Kamkwamba built his family an electricity-generating windmill from spare parts including a bicycle frame and wheel, working from photographs and rough plans he found in a library book.
A news story about him in the local newspaper got noticed, which led to him becoming a TED fellow and TED Global speaker, and there is now a book, a documentary and a foundation all set up around the inspired story of William’s windmills from Malawi. The six-minute documentary about him is great:
Bicycle Dynamo-Powered Cell Chargers
The two young Kenyan inventors of Bicycle Dynamo-Powered Cell Phone Chargers (recently profiled on BBC news) are attending and presenting at MFA.
Bicycle Wheel Iron Forge Bellows
MFA participant George Odhiambo is a Kenyan metalworker who fabricates everything from wheelbarrows to chisels. His shop was featured on AfriGadget – a simple bicycle wheel mechanism powers the bellows for the forge fire.
Solar Flap Messenger Bag Project
This bag design, a collaboration between several partners, led by PopTech, is a messenger-style bag with a solar panel and circuitry/battery for a light and a power charger for USB devices. The inside of the flap is reflective silver for amplifying the light. AfriGadget is passing out several prototype bags and tech kits in three countries, including at MFA, to get on-the-ground feedback about the design, and to see what African makers and tailors do when they are just provided with the solar panel/charger units or flaps.
Visit the websites these two Maker Faire Africa organizers as great jumping-off points for investigating African DIY spirit.
- Emeka Okafor of Timbuktu Chronicles and the Director of TED Africa
- Erik Hersman, founder of AfriGadget
Related Bikejuju post: