HAPV – Human and Animal Powered Vehicle in South Africa

The HAPV (Advertised as HAPPY) is a twist on the ‘horse and buggy’ mode of transportation, making this a donkey, cart, solar panel on a canopy FUV (Farm Utility Vehicle) that is quite ingenious and absolutely AfriGadget. A donkey drawn carriage is commonplace in many countries in Africa, and this retrofit by the organization Water and Wheel adds more functionality and utility especially suited for rural Africa.


Fitted with a solar panel that charges a 12 volt battery under the driver’s seat, the “HAPPY” becomes an independent, sustainable source of energy that powers cell phone connectivity, front and rear emergency lights and a small neon tube at night. Add a water filtration system, and the “HAPPY” doubles as a multi functional mobile business unit, that can empower an entrepreneurial owner, to generate income from it as a fresh water outlet, a mobile phone kiosk or a spaza shop – even after dark.

Read more about it here.

(Hat tip Mweshi)

Note: Erik Hersman (White African) was interviewed a few minutes ago on BBC, a podcast will be available in a day or two and we will be sure to share it here (link).

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  2. Pingback: Websites Reviewer » Blog Archive » Solar-powered donkey carts bring power to African villages

  3. Stupid and pointless. Probably 500$+ worth of solar panels. How much would a simple bicycle generator hooked to the donkey cart cost? 2-3$?

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  20. What a great solar powered solution! I was totally amazed, this is a solution for any sun filled area.

    I found this blog by surfing and I have added him to my blog. Really amazing, thank you so much for sharing all this knowledge.

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  23. Why are you using a single shaft cart with just two wheels? A single shaft is fine with a four wheeler,as there is no problem with balancing the weight of the cargo or passengers. With a two wheeler the centre of balance is constantly shifting, and with your harness the weight is carried, as far as I can see, by two narrow straps over the donkeys neck. We are trying very hard to get people away from single shaft two wheelers, but are compromising by trying to develope a system that allows the weight to be carried by a saddle

  24. Two wheeled single shaft carts are bad news for donkeys. All of the weight, if the balance is wrong, is on the donkey’s necks. We are trying really hard to convert people to twin shaft, or triple shaft carts for pairs. I don’t deny that it looks very clever, but come on, lets have some consideration for the animals, and some common sense in the designs. What Africa needs is simple, sturdy work carts of good design, that are easily maintained and practical.

    • Chris, I am living in South Central Mexico. The carts they use here are the two wheel style. I have seen both Donkey and horses be lifted off the groun die to poor loading and even worse colapse for the same reason. You would be appaled to witness what they use for harnesses and bits. We borrowed a horse and cart from a neighbor to move some rocks. The horse was very aggitated and non compliant. In the late afternoon the shaft broke which was putting so much pressure on the mare. We finally got her disengaged and discovered why she was so onery! The owner had twisted SIX pieces of rusty wire around her bit. It was done in a manner to intentionally hurt the poor things mouth. When she was feed from the cart I also tried to remove the yoke and “harness”. The yoke was ancient and in poor shape. Much of the leather had been worn off. The metal was rusted and broken and had been poking her the whole time. But the worst was the intentional placement of uncovered two by fours with nils placed to pierce the skin on her back. To top this off everything was held together with that thick synthetic rope that feels like barbed wire when you touch it with your bare hands. You can actually recieve “splinters” from handeling this kind of rope. We refused to give her the horse back. We had to pay for the repair of the cart. All this to say we need to know a better way…..this is normal treatment of a donkey or horse in my area. I would love it if you could direct me to a more humane and safe system for both carts and harnesses. The mare (unnamed still) is resting well and gaining weight. She is also becoming less aggresive and even looks foreward to our “visits” Thank you for your work! Sharon

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