Maker Faire: Africa 2009

A couple weeks ago one of our inspirations for AfriGadget – Emeka Okafor of Timbuktu Chronicles – put forward an idea on the Ned forums about a “Maker Faire Africa“.

The aim of a Maker Faire-like event is to create a space on the continent where Afrigadget-type innovations, inventions and initiatives can be sought, identified, brought to life, supported, amplified, propagated, etc. Maker Faire Africa asks the question, “What happens when you put the drivers of ingenious concepts from Mali with those from Ghana and Kenya, and add resources to the mix?

The focus here is not on high-tech, but on manufacturing. Specifically, fabrication, the type of small and unorganized businesses that pop up wherever an entrepreneur is found on the African continent. It gets exciting when you think about gathering some of the real innovators from this sector into one place where they can learn from each other and spread their knowledge from one part of the continent to another.

Old bicycle turned into a furnace bellows Simon Mwangi A Welding Machine

A few fabrication stories on AfriGadget:

The organizing team will collaborate with the organizers of the International Development Design Summit (IDDS), which will be held at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in mid/late Summer 2009, to ensure a well-timed, visible, and celebratory event that draws upon IDDS outcomes and attracts new participants. The aim of Maker Faire Africa 2009 will be to establish partnerships and an organizing infrastructure that could lead to a series of events across the continent.

Needless to say, AfriGadget is 100% behind this initiative and will take an active role in both promotion and organizing, as needed.

[The Maker Faire Africa blog]

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...

19 thoughts on “Maker Faire: Africa 2009”

  1. Narf! Now I am tempted to board the next plane and carry some capacity building & DIY manuals with me for a “build your own sustainable toilet” workshop.

    Considering that proper water&sanitation facilities are basic needs, such an event could be the perfect platform to reach many multipliers who are else maybe only busy with mechanical & electronical imagineering jobs.

    (there’s an ecological sanitation / closed loop project already active in Ghana @ Valley View University)

  2. How are you guys calling this Afrigadget?
    This is kind of diminishing. They work hard to better their productions even with a huge lack of support from the rest of the world.

  3. Amazing synergies, Erik! I’ve been thinking about how cool it would be to have a Maker Faire Africa for a while now. *Very* interested to help. Question, though: Is this going to be a collaboration with Maker Faire in the U.S. or something new and independent?

  4. @Anthony – interesting project, thanks for the link.

    @Tre – I’m not sure how it’s diminishing, creating a way for these hard working innovators from across Africa to meet and transfer knowledge will only make it better.

    @Heather – I’m in Jo’burg for the week, we should meet and talk it over.

  5. Maybe I am little hard on this, but I simply don’t like the name calling AfriGadget. We both know the meaning of Gadget, it has the connotation of foreplay and over there it is about survival.

  6. Hi Tre,….ha ha ha … you obviously have some interesting gadgets at home! Man I had NO IDEA that there was a connection between foreplay and gadgets, you’ve opened my mind! Seriously though, some of the worlds most transformative inventions were gadgets starting with the wheel, bread slicer, telephone, flush loo….even the amazing ipod is a gadget (most of these have no relation to foreplay), …personally I love the name Afrigadget, it’s catchy and cool, and it describes things pretty well. 🙂

  7. You might want to contact the folks at — they have tons of free plans for solar cookers, ranging from simple cardboard-and-tinfoil to more intricate sheet metal setups. I’m sure they’d be interested in taking part, and may have good contacts on the ground in Africa.

  8. What a great idea! As the fabricators of low-power/energy efficient computing for Africa, often done running with duct tape, we’d love to participate.

  9. Hi Paula, aha ha. This is exactly what I was talking about. what might be harmless for maybe be totally different for others simply due to differences in cultures. Foreplay that was a good one. Eh I know my opinion won’t change nothing even if everyone wanted to. it will be a lost to change the site name. But eh at least I voice my opinion.
    Again, thinks for helping them out to show off their skills.

  10. Hey Tre,
    just relax – in which ways should the term “AfriGadget” be diminishing? Instead, I think it appreciates the fact that ppl in regions with limited resources and lack of ready made products have found their own solutions. That is, many ppl – even in Africa – still believe that “the cool gadgets” only come from the outside. So with AfriGadget we’re not only trying to showcast these other solutions and provide them with a platform, but also create some awareness that there’s much more ppl can achieve.

    As for the cultural differences – what do you think of when you hear the term AfriGadget? Does it imply any negative connotation for you? If yes, how? And in which culture? Thx.

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