SK8OPIA – Skate Ethiopia

AfriGadget-Sk8opia-iceaddis-1

These are great news from our Ethiopia-based partner iceaddis: a student recently designed a new wheel for skateboards that can be produced in Ethiopia – made and designed in Africa. Reinventing the wheel? Eh!

Bauhaus product design student Daniel Scheidler presented his bachelor project on affordable and locally appropriate vehicles for individual transport in Ethiopia. Through extensive field research in Addis Ababa, Daniel concluded that new roads of good quality have been built across the city and the country, but owning a car is still far too costly for the great majority of the population, while the public transport system (buses & taxis) on the other hand is overcrowded. Derived from personal experience in the skateboard scene, Daniel’s proposed solution is a locally adapted type of skateboard, as a viable option for the daily transport needs of the urban masses.

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Of central importance to the concept is the wheel, which was especially designed for easy production with locally available materials. Up until now, any complete wheel on the Ethiopian market, be it for bicycles, wheelchairs or skateboards, has been an expensive import from abroad. Daniel’s prototype relies on a core out of spray foam insulation, cast with a reusable mold and supported by a fiberglass coating and leather or rubber from used tires. The wheel design is meant to be gradually enhanced and adapted through the iterative process of small-scale local manufacturing.

See it all in action here (@ 01:33):

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(via icebauhaus, thx!)

Maker Faire Africa comes to Jo’Burg

Maker Faire Africa was first held in Ghana in 2009, then Kenya 2010, Egypt 2011, Nigeria 2012 and now in South Africa 2014. It’s been an amazing thing to be a part of, and the best is to be there and see the local ingenuity, the practical inventions that are made by some of the smartest and scrappiest people in Africa.

Maker Faire Africa 2014

Makers from across Africa will join ZA Makers for 4-days of meet-ups, mash-ups, workshops, and seed-starting ideas for new collaborations in open innovation across the continent.

When: Sept 3-6, 2014
Where: WITS (University of the Witwatersrand), exact location TBD
Who: You + all the other Makers, just sign up

Maker Faire Pop-Up Makerspace

Maker Faire Africa 2014 will bring together over 5,000 attendees, along with featured inventors, world-class makers, self-made entrepreneurs & workshop experts from South Africa, across the continent, and around the world, to manufacture real solutions for some of Africa’s most pressing challenges & opportunities in the areas of agriculture, health, education, power, and more. Whether your interest lies in technology, engineering, science, humanities, design or fabrication, you’ll find the best grouping of enthusiastic hardware innovators at MFA 2014.

At the heart of the Maker Faire Africa Community experience is our Pop-Up Maker Space – facilitated through a collaboration between local hackerspaces & volunteers and visiting world-class makers. Open the full length of the faire, it caters to all ages, skill levels, and interests. Visitors can organize their own impromptu maker projects using available tools & supplies, attend demonstrations such as 3D-Printing Indigenous Patterns, Light Up Your Gele, or Strawberry DNA Extraction, or participate in supervised workshops such as Learn to Solder, Solar Energy for Personal Power, Microelectronics 101 or AfriRobotics for Beginners.

MFA is structured to encourage visitors to actively make, not just observe. We integrate students and professionals alongside informal inventors in a way not happening elsewhere across Africa.

Some school girl makers in Nigeria 2012

Some school girl makers in Nigeria 2012

Handmade hydraulic toys at MFA 2012 in Nigeria

Handmade hydraulic toys at MFA 2012 in Nigeria

“Solutions for Africa’s economic growth must emanate from Africa to be wholly understood and integrated. Maker Faire Africa has the potential to be the birth- place of African invention fundamental to the continent’s development… these are Africa’s unsung heroes, as it is their understanding of what is needed, rather than what is simply cool, that translates into the most valuable economic asset on the continent today.”
- Deo Onyango, GE Commercial Development Director for East Africa

Handmade Fashion Glasses - MFA Kenya 2010

Handmade Fashion Glasses – MFA Kenya 2010

(crosspost from Whiteafrican.com)

The Mukombe

The Mukombe - Zimbabwe's tippy tap

The Mukombe – Zimbabwe’s tippy tap

Dr. Peter Morgan, winner of the 2013 Stockholm Water Prize and resident of Zimbabwe, recently shared the design of The Mukombe on the forum of the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance. The Mukombe is a hand washing device – a “tippy tap” as it is commonly known within the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) scene – as it just requires a little tip to provide the user with just enough water to wash the hands. In water-arid areas, such a simple device can be essential to hygiene.

Naturally occuring Mukombe

Naturally occuring Mukombe

“(The Mukombe) was first conceived by Dr Jim Watt when he worked in Zimbabwe as a Salvation Army doctor in Chiweshe in the late 1970′s. (…) This vegetable had a hard shell and could be used as a gourd or calabash for carrying water and other commodities. It is commonly grown in the fields. The great innovation was to turn this common plant into a hand washing device. (…) Many years ago I made a fibre glass replica of this remarkably simple and elegant device. Many if not most natural plants did not have the right shape. Using the fibre glass replica with its idealised shape, Prodorite in Harare have been able to mass produce the product. The mukombe holds about 2 litres of water and can provide enough water in a single filling to give about 35 hand washes.”

How the Mukombe works (drawings by Jim Watt)

How the Mukombe works (drawings by Jim Watt)

“Modifications are made to the naturally occurring Mukombe. An opening is made in the top and a cork or plug is placed at the end of the neck as shown above, with a small opening for water to drain. Holes are drilled into the top of the mukombe and a string passed through. The mukombe is suspended by the string so that it lies at a special angle. The mukombe is filled with water and then tipped up so that some water passes up the neck. When the mukombe comes to its resting position again, some water is left at the end of the neck and slowly drains out. It is this water which is used to wash the hands. The flow stops automatically when the small reservoir in the neck runs out.” (src)

Use at a school

Use at a school

The beauty of the Makombe over other tippy taps is that the design is based on a naturally grown product and that it only uses a very little amount of water. Plus: you can hang it anywhere, there is no need for an advanced construction. Clearly another winner in the “it’s cheap, it works, it wins”-category.

Avid readers may remember Dr. Morgan as the inventor of the Blair Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) Latrine, which has meanwhile been adapted as the national standard by the Government of Zimbabe.

You are what you breathe

When was the last time you noticed the air you are breathing ? Do you know how it affects you and your health?

air pollution Egypt

Egypt leads the list of the most polluted cities in the world, in terms of particulate matter. Moreover, according to the latest report by the WHO, every Cairo resident’s daily share of air pollution is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

This motivated the makers from icealex hub in Alexandria Egypt to work on solving this global problem.

Their solution: Build an air quality monitoring kit

afrimakers air pollution kit

The kit uses Arduino, gas, humidity and temperature sensors, RGB LEDs and an LCD screen to detect and measure air pollution. The Afrimakers team wishes to understand and map pollutants in their local environment and identify main pollution sources and best strategies of individual protection.

The idea was inspired by the Air Quality Egg project, which is based on Arduino, allowing anybody on the world to monitor CO2 and NO2 levels around his house, and share the results online, to be compared with the rest of the world records.

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What distinguishes the prototype designed by the Afrimakers team from the AirQuality Egg’s, is the reduced cost and the outreach to local schools, communities of makers and learning centers for children. The same components of the kit can be used for many other projects which also reduces the investment for schools.

The team has a detailed documentation for this project and aims to create several learning modules for this project that could be used in schools and video tutorials.

This week, the project developers are visiting the makers in Nairobi and organizing a series of workshops in collaboration with Fablab Nairobi and iHub in order to improve their prototype and reflect about how it can be locally-driven.

If you would like to build your own air pollution monitor you can follow the instructions made by the icealex team. In case you don’t have access to the same sensors or materials we encourage you to “fork” their project here and and adapt it to your local resources.

A main goal of the team and their project is to encourage makers and local communities to dream, make and share meaningful projects that are solving big problems and are extremely affordable.

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Afrimakers is an initiative to empower African makers to develop sustainable projects and provide solution for local challenges by training more than 100 mentors in 10 African countries on running science & tech workshops for private and public schools students.

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Kiambu chopper et al

Sharing good content online isn’t always easy, as we prefer original (first-hand) content – contributed by our readers – that comes along with a permission to share these jewels. The following post first appeared in a Kenyan newspaper a month ago – we’ve tried contacting the editor in charge, but haven’t received a reply from them so far.

Still, the story is so unique, it needs to be shared:

Kiambu chopper

Residents of Magomano village in Kiambu have been flocking to a homestead for a glimpse of a homemade helicopter which has been assembled by a 20 year-old farm hand.
Onesmus Mwangi started assembling the ‘helicopter’ seven months ago and has so far spent about Sh57, 000 which he started saving through Mpesa.
(…)
Mwangi said he has been buying plain sheets, boltsm filler, paint and sponge for fitting from a local supermarket.
“I bought metal bars and plastics locally and I have put an old chuff-cutter which mills animal feeds as the engine and propeller to move the wings.
The chopper weighs 25 kilograms.”The sheets are aluminum. I attempted to fly the chopper last week but it refused,” Mwangi said.”

The chopper has meanwhile been taken away by the local police “to ensure officers from the aviation sector verify whether it is fit for flying”.  Right.

If the government can educate me in engineering, I can come up with more innovations like a fast moving ship and more cohesive chopper than this one. Professionals should see whether they can improve on it.”

Full story is here!

Other objects of a certain aviational variety ex Africa include the Kahawa West Aircraft, Mubarak Abdullahi’s home-made helicopter in Nigeria, the homemade helicopter in Somaliland as well as this odd story on someone who claims to having built a single seater aircraft way back in the 1970s from an old VW Beetle engine.

Another form of “chopper” has been shared by Melissa Hogarth from South Africa:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151321940873523&set=o.149937341714587&type=1&theater
(excuse the Comic Sans! ;-))

“This inventive entrepreneur has taken vehicle wraps to another level!”, writes Melissa on FB.

Again – we contacted the original editors but haven’t received a reply. But since it was publicly shared on FB, we took the liberty to just repost it here.

And yes, copyright issues are important to us. Here at AfriGadget, we prefer our contributors to make use of one of the Creative Commons licences which often (not always) enable an easier sharing. AfriGadget is a group blog with no commercial interest, but we still prefer obtaining a permission to reshare the content you’ve put online.

Another part are missing stories. Often, we just have a photo and no story to come along with it. Photos or videos alone often do not tell the full story.

And here is another example:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=480618128674479&set=a.411832588886367.89024.120578284678467&type=1&theater

A bicycle jeep (it seems) that was recently shared via the fabulous “Africa, this is why I live here” FB group. Photo credit: Lebohang Bucibo – that’s all we have!