We’re back online with our old blog! What started in 2006 by Erik Hersman, founder/co-founder of, and other ventures, was quickly turned into a group blog, which featured various authors from around the world. Our mission: To showcase innovative humans who come up with different solutions to problems in environments that lack industry norms, access to professional tools, a supply of the right materials or just anything that is not made in a factory.

In Kenya, where most of our authors grew up or live in, this approach to problem solving is often called “jua kali”, as in “working under the hot sun”. Steve Daniels, former advisor at the now defunct Makeshift magazine, created a wonderful paper called “Making Do – Innovation in Kenya’s Informal Sector” in 2010 on this innovative culture that we never really mentioned on this blog:

making do wouldn’t exist without this jua kali spirit, and it doesn’t matter if you live in India and call it “jugaad, heard about the DIY culture in Cuba during the Castro years or experience all of this resourcefulness yourself when you live in an economy of scarcity and need to solve a problem. AfriGadget was and still is our answer to showcase that in a world of norms, patents, regional, financial and other restrictions, people are able to change objects and create something new out of them. It also is a testament to the maker culture that has always been around.


Back in 2005, we quickly came up with the term “AfriGadget”, as gadget blogs were the latest trend back then and we wanted to show to the world that even on the African continent there are a lot of nice “gadgets” that spice up your life.

Also, many of the innovations (!= inventions) aren’t an Africa-only thing. The knife-sharpening bicycle, for example, one of our popular posts in 2007, talks about a bike that is also used to propell a grinding stone. This bike may be Made in China, the setup may be locally assembled, but is this really an “African” invention – as it is equally found in other parts of the world? We don’t know. And there are a lot of other cool things on the internet in 2018 that may not originate from Africa, but perfectly fit the AfriGadget frame.

Backups, Backups, Backups…

This site went offline in 2016 due to administrative and technical issues with the website host. Some data was lost, the last undeleted backup is from 2012. Yes, you should always keep your backups.

We love this blog, the shared stories and often missed linking back to some older content on this blog, so we urgently needed to relaunch this site. We have meanwhile managed to redirect the domain to a new server and are now in the process of slowly recovering old content and will set up a new template. Which means that this website is still under construction and if things aren’t the way they should be or if something important is missing, then please contact us – thank you!

Our platforms

We are active on four different platforms: This website, Facebook, Instagram, and on Twitter. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter provide us with global audiences that don’t have to be directed to a single blog somewhere on the internet. Also, there used to be this service called which allowed users in certain countries to access Facebook free of mobile data charges. This in itself is already an interesting observation and a topic for AfriGadget (that someone else should write about – maybe you?), as user behaviour changes when services are free of charge vs. cost money. “A peculiar calling habit”, as the former CEO of a huge telecommunications provider in Kenya once called it, is the result of such financial limits that have a huge impact on how people buy, use and recycle products. Likewise, our Facebook audience is different from the other audiences on this website or even Twitter.

Talking about audiences, there was a popular TV show on Kenyan TV in 2017 that used our tagline, our logo and reported nice stories from Kenya. Unfortunately, we are in no way affiliated with the tv show, the producers never replied to our mails and on the other hand viewers kept on contacting us via Facebook, asking about the products that were showcased on the show. We’d love to help, but we just don’t know better. Sharing is caring. Some producers apparently don’t care. The show is great though and features some of our content that we wrote about in the past:

Low Tech vs. High Tech

Whenever we presented AfriGadget to other audiences, we also talked about which enabled the iHub in Kenya, a coworking / innovation hub, and we also mentioned all the other hubs that came up in the last few years. We talked about digital projects that are created in Africa but we never really mentioned them on this blog. AfriGadgets aren’t limited to low tech solutions. In fact, there are a lot of very smart things that happen in the digital sphere that could also be termed as AfriGadgets. And not only software tricks that are never published due to software patents or because only a few people understand the magic of programming code. We also talk about business ideas that work in African socities because they target the local user/consumer behaviour. All of those things are AfriGadgets to us. So whenever we mention AfriGadgets, we don’t limit this to some Made-in-Africa wire toy cars (which are great, also because they are the complete opposite to the ex-cathedra teaching still found in many schools, i.e. studying vs. being creative and doing something). AfriGadgets are local solutions to local problems. This site exists to show them to the world.

Still, the low-tech approach is near and dear to us, and one of our favourite sites online is the Low-Tech Magazine that features a reasonable approach to anything low-tech, has lots of detailed information and asks the right questions. Where we only scratch the surface and deliver the audience, the Low-Tech Magazine goes into detail.


AfriGadget also exists because people from all over the world have in the past contributed interesting stories. We got boingboing’ed  a few times and always appreciated being part of a global community that understands the importance of documented innovations. AfriGadget has always been a group blog and we will gladly post your story as a guests blog post. There is a Flickr group that pools very interesting and original AfriGadget material. Some of the photos turn into stories, other are just interesting to watch or are tagged accordingly. There is so much material out there, and in the begining, many contributers wondered why we are sharing normal things that can be found in any African village. Well, to some people they may be normal, to others they are very strange. Which is why we want to encourage you sharing stories, photos, videos, and comments on everything AfriGadget. Just contact us!

eMail subscriptions

If you have previously subscribed to using an eMail subscription service such as Google’s Feedburner service, please note that we have lost login data to that service and can not provide any assistance to that and/or change anything about it. In case of doubt, please cancel your subscription and use our RSS-feed instead. Thank you!

Maker Faire Africa comes to Jo’Burg

Maker Faire Africa was first held in Ghana in 2009, then Kenya 2010, Egypt 2011, Nigeria 2012 and now in South Africa 2014. It’s been an amazing thing to be a part of, and the best is to be there and see the local ingenuity, the practical inventions that are made by some of the smartest and scrappiest people in Africa.

Maker Faire Africa 2014

Makers from across Africa will join ZA Makers for 4-days of meet-ups, mash-ups, workshops, and seed-starting ideas for new collaborations in open innovation across the continent.

When: Sept 3-6, 2014
Where: WITS (University of the Witwatersrand), exact location TBD
Who: You + all the other Makers, just sign up

Maker Faire Pop-Up Makerspace

Maker Faire Africa 2014 will bring together over 5,000 attendees, along with featured inventors, world-class makers, self-made entrepreneurs & workshop experts from South Africa, across the continent, and around the world, to manufacture real solutions for some of Africa’s most pressing challenges & opportunities in the areas of agriculture, health, education, power, and more. Whether your interest lies in technology, engineering, science, humanities, design or fabrication, you’ll find the best grouping of enthusiastic hardware innovators at MFA 2014.

At the heart of the Maker Faire Africa Community experience is our Pop-Up Maker Space – facilitated through a collaboration between local hackerspaces & volunteers and visiting world-class makers. Open the full length of the faire, it caters to all ages, skill levels, and interests. Visitors can organize their own impromptu maker projects using available tools & supplies, attend demonstrations such as 3D-Printing Indigenous Patterns, Light Up Your Gele, or Strawberry DNA Extraction, or participate in supervised workshops such as Learn to Solder, Solar Energy for Personal Power, Microelectronics 101 or AfriRobotics for Beginners.

MFA is structured to encourage visitors to actively make, not just observe. We integrate students and professionals alongside informal inventors in a way not happening elsewhere across Africa.

Some school girl makers in Nigeria 2012

Some school girl makers in Nigeria 2012

Handmade hydraulic toys at MFA 2012 in Nigeria

Handmade hydraulic toys at MFA 2012 in Nigeria

“Solutions for Africa’s economic growth must emanate from Africa to be wholly understood and integrated. Maker Faire Africa has the potential to be the birth- place of African invention fundamental to the continent’s development… these are Africa’s unsung heroes, as it is their understanding of what is needed, rather than what is simply cool, that translates into the most valuable economic asset on the continent today.”
– Deo Onyango, GE Commercial Development Director for East Africa

Handmade Fashion Glasses - MFA Kenya 2010

Handmade Fashion Glasses – MFA Kenya 2010

(crosspost from

Richard Turere Lion lights video

Dear all,

Richard Turere, the 13 year old inventor I posted about here, was selected to audition for TED. For his presentation Stefano Cassini and I made  him a video.

Many people have been asking how to reach Richard. I am his guardian, please contact me Paula Kahumbu  on

The Women of Minyore

Kenya-based video journalist Ruud Elmendorp recently compiled this report on the Women of Minyore, who live on a dump site near Nakuru, Kenya and make art out of various plastic waste:

“‘Here is where I come every morning to collect plastics from the garbage.’ Lucy Wambui is 50 and with a stick she grubs through the garbage in the Gioto Dumping Site in Nakuru in central Kenya. It is early morning and the stench of the waste   already abhors. Lucy stays here with 30 other women forming the Minyore Women’s Group that sustains itself by selling art works made from garbage. ‘It’s not healthy living here, but we have nowhere else to go.’

‘Gioto’ in the local Kikuyu language means garbage, and the dumping site is situated one mile outside the industrial town of Nakuru, the number four city in Kenya. Echoes of morning mist and smoke from fires mix above the garbage that lingers on the foot of the Menengai Hills. The women of Minyore are wading through the waste, looking for polythene bags and plastic soda bottles. Their name is derived from the Kikuyu word for plastic bag. Most of the women ended up here after their husbands left them behind because of drug abuse, alcoholism or having died from Aids.
The ladies collect plastic bags to make baskets and other art works for sale. Lucy Wambui is among the women and she holds a dozen of plastic bags. Some blue, black or printed in the affordable colors of a local supermarket. ‘We don’t like working here,’ she says. ‘But we are not educated and don’t have jobs. That’s the reason why we came here.’

 ‘When I came here I started thinking what work I could do,’ she says. ‘So I joined the women weaving baskets and making jewelry from plastic.

Just outside the house a group of women is seated on a hill top weaving. Lucy picks some strands of plastic and joins them. ‘These baskets are very popular,’ she says while weaving. ‘They are used by mothers to go to the market, or on Sunday to carry a Bible to church. There is nowhere you can’t go with them.’  The products the women make vary from baskets, wallets, ladies bags and bracelets. They offer them on the dumping site on certain days in the week. ‘The best is to sell to tourists because then you can get a better price,’ admits Lucy. She is showing an improvised shop next to her house. A group of tourists with white legs shamelessly protruding from their shorts are admiring the products. Most of them are sent by tourist agencies and churches. ‘They come every Wednesday and that’s good for us,’ says Lucy.  If she is lucky she can make 20 Euro per day. ‘When there are no tourists it can be much less.’

(read more…)

This self-help women’s group may just be one out of the many out there who are struggling to survive and trying to have an income based on urban waste. And while the various waste fractions suggest the introduction of a pyrolysis system or any other concept for urban waste handling, it is just remarkable how these women have managed to create a business where others just see waste. “Waste = Food”? Yes.

Maker Faire Africa 2010 Begins!


Maker Faire Africa 2010 has begun in Nairobi, Kenya. This is the second of what is becoming an annual event, an event that seeks to shed some light on the inventors, innovators and artists creating practical and interesting ideas – mostly from Africa’s informal sector.

This year, besides having jua kali creators from Kenya, we also have makers from Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria and South Africa. It’s a great turnout, and continues the tradition from Ghana last year.

We’re seeing all kinds of incredible ideas brought to life. Here are a couple:

A customized bicycle, with an accessory that lets you charge your phone via dynamo:

A robotic porridge cooking machine, made by a Malawian inventor:

Artistic sunglasses, made from locally available materials:

More pictures in the Maker Faire Africa group