Hardware Hacking: Handmade Tools in Africa

I’ve written about handmade tools in Africa before, but it didn’t generate a ton of interest, so I’ve not followed-up on it very much in my travels. I was really happy to see that another person was intrigued by this though, Kevin Kelly has a post where Tom Ritchey, master bike frame builder, sent him pictures of hand-made tools he spotted at bike shops in Rwanda.

Fabrication is an important skill in developing nations. Along the whole process you see reuse taking place, even down to the tools being used to create the items in question.

A Kenyan micro-entrepreneur recently told me:

In the sixties, during the space race between Russia and the U.S.A the Russian Engineers, when told there was no more money for the budget philosophically said “now we have no money then we can think” and they were able to be tremendously creative when compared to the Americans despite the limited funds at their disposal. This is the same approach I use in my initiatives.

As I’m not the only one who thinks these are pretty cool, I’m digging into the AfriGadget Flickr Group to pull out a picture that I never published here on the blog. These are small engine repair tools built to work on motorcycles, generators and lawnmowers (among other things):

Modified Small Engine Repair Tools

And finally, a video of Bernard, one of the local small engine repair guys in Nairobi (who’s shop has since disappeared) talking about how he makes some of the tools:

Author: Erik Hersman

Erik is the owner of White African, a blog about technology and Africa. He is the co-founder of Zangu, a new web and mobile phone application that he hopes will change communication in Africa. AfriGadget is another web project of his, not that he doesn't have enough of those already...

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