Peter Kahugu of Banana Hill just outside Nairobi makes a living using his bicycle.
And no, he is not a professional cyclist.
AfriGadget reporter Afromusing and I had an opportunity to interview Peter who has modified his bicycle with a belt, a set of tensioning pulleys and a grinding stone to make it a knife-sharpening machine. By kicking the bike up onto its stand and engaging a gearing system, he is able to use “leg-horsepower” to drive a grinding wheel and sharpen knives while “on the move”.
Peter has been at this for 2 years now and he makes about Kshs 500 ( app. 10 US$) a day by riding his mobile workshop from client to client sharpening all their knives as he goes. The grinding stone he uses has lasted an astounding 2 years and he has had to replace his drive belt a couple of times but that is as simple as cutting up a long strip of rubber from an old car or bicycle tire inner tube.
Be sure to click though on the image for video on YouTube of the Peter and his bike in action.
Being on the ground in Nairobi makes it a little easier to find good AfriGadget stories. I took a walk down Ngong road, an area with a lot of shadetree mechanics, wood carvers and metal fabricators. The first place I stopped at had a home made welding machine.
Simon, the shop owner, showed me a couple of the machines and gave a video tour of how it works. He’s a prime example how an entrepreneur in Africa will figure out ingenious solutions to meet local market demands. The welders sell for around 14,000 Kenya Shillings (just over $200), but fabrication costs only a small fraction of that.
Below is the video and some pictures. (Another video will be uploaded later, connection speed issues preclude me uploading another one right now).
4 brothers in Western Kenya have begun solving water problems by creating waterpump windmills out of old bicycle parts and roofing materials. They have created 30 of them and are making good money doing it. This is another story of Africans solving their own problems using local materials:
The four Ututu brothers had inherited a large area of fertile farmland, which had been terraced by their father in the late 1950s. Despite this resource, they were experiencing problems because they lacked water both for drinking (meaning wasted time, fetching water from 15 km away in the dry season) and for irrigation (thus low yields from the meagre rainfall).
Most African children are forced to create their own toys from scratch. Below are some samplings of what they make with what’s available. Old tire inner-tubes, soda cans, mud, bailing wire and sticks are just a few of the materials used to create imaginative toys.
In just about every country in Africa you’ll find the boys making cars, motorcycles and airplanes out of tin cans and bailing wire:
In Southern Sudan children use mud to create animals to play with. Below is a picture of a Cape Buffalo:
an accurate all-purpose machine tool that can be built by a semi-skilled mechanic with just common hand tools.
Multi-machines are 3 in 1 machines based on old car engine blocks (a 3-in-1 machine is usually a combination of a metal lathe, mill and drill press). The machines are designed such that they use the tolerances and engineering initially used to create the engine block that is re-purposed as the core of the tool to help guarantee that various components of the machine integrate with a high level of precision.
The machines have a design that not only allows them to be assembled using “elbow grease” but that also allow them to run on alternative power sources where mains electricity is not available. They are also easily adaptable to new purposes by adding on modules.
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