Harnessing Personal Movement for Power in Rural Africa

Dr. Cedrick Ngalande is an inventor. He’s been working on inventing new ways for everyday rural Africans to create enough electricity to power items like mobile phones or other small electrical devices. In the past, he’s been on AfriGadget for his yeast + sugar rotary electricity generator.

Today he has announced a new project called Green Erg, which harnesses (literally) a person’s movement energy to create electricity.

Harnessing Personal Movement for Power in Rural Africa

“This is basically a dynamo which is being driven as a result of friction between the ground and the blocks. The small yellowish blocks (these are covered by rubber in the real commercial product) rotate as you pull it. They are designed to rotate even on bumpy run even roads. We have tested it on moist lawn and have worked. It is very smooth so much that you basically don’t feel any disturbance as
you move along.

At normal walking speeds we have gotten more than 2 watts which is more than enough for running cell phones or radios. I envision that people will attach this to themselves and walk with it – or even attach it to an ox-cart, a skating board, bike, etc.”


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...

21 thoughts on “Harnessing Personal Movement for Power in Rural Africa”

  1. Like the Segway, I feel like this ignores the social factor of how you appear.

    And like the Segway, this could probably find some success in professional roles where appearance doesn’t matter – ox-carts seem to make sense, but so do public transportation, etc.

    Cool find.

  2. Something like this could also be hooked to a bike or attached to a stationary bicycle to generate power.

    USAID is going to be distributing about 250,000 solar/dynamo FreePlay radios in Sudan over the next few years. They will not have the capability of charging external batteries. What a waste.

  3. pointless… if you want to generate electricity, why should you attach this onto a bus, and not take the electricity directly from the alternator? Let’s say that attached to an ox-cart this would be ok, but if the man has a cellphone, I guess he can afford a solar powered battery or a bicycle dynamo, in the worst case, not some pulling gadget making him look ridiculous…

  4. @ovidiu – Your assumptions are wrong on Africa, and especially reality for many rural Africans. Whether this device makes someone look ridiculous is irrelevant too, that’s not the first priority, power is. In fact, I’m guessing that if you were stuck out in some rural African village you would be happy to have anything to re-power your mobile phone and wouldn’t care what you looked like to achieve it.

  5. In parts of rural Africa you can buy a used cell phone for less than $10 and since you only pay to make outgoing calls, you can have cell phone access quite cheaply. That doesn’t mean you can afford solar panels or other ways to keep your phone charged.

    This device looks great. I bet kids would want to play with it too and do the charging just for kicks.

  6. You could also attach 2, 4, 6 or even 8 dynamos to a bicycle. Wonder how long it takes to charge a cell phone with that setup.

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