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).

Author: Juliana Rotich

African, Kenyan, Blogger. I am fascinated by solar energy tech, and the empowering, leapfrogging nature of technology for Africa.

79 thoughts on “HAPV – Human and Animal Powered Vehicle in South Africa”

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  11. Are you all serious?

    The current business model is to swap your battery at a battery shop where it is charged.

    How can this expensive novelty compete at all and do we want to waste all this material and effort. What about the extra feed the donkeys need to pull this metal contraption around!

    Does the user have a garage to protect the panel at night – panels have been the target of armed robbers!

    I do appreciate the donkey-friendly harnesses but surely….

  12. 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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  14. 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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  16. 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

  17. 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.

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