African Truck Toys

Kevin Kelly (Co-founder of Wired, author and technologist extraordinaire) blogged about african truck toys, which show the ingenuity of using local materials to make something useful, fun and yes…very cool.

ugandawiretoy The image is from Kevin Kelly’s site, it is of a wire toy made by a child in Uganda.
These are the types of toys the Afrigadget authors and african blogosphere members played with when they were children. I would like to request that if you have pictures showing toys such as these, if you would kindly comment or use our contact page to send us images,so we can showcase more of African ingenuity. You can also tag your images in flickr with afrigadget and we’ll be sure to see them.

the DIY phone booth

Cross posted on Kikuyumoja’s Realm.

I was travelling in an upcountry minibus today when the guy seated just next to me pulled out his new mobile phone he recently purchased in Embu, Kenya.

Safaricom, the biggest mobile phone network provider in Kenya with about 5 million customers, introduced some handsets in the past, which enable resellers to deliver phone services to the public. Such handsets, which look like phones for fixed-lines, often come with an external display that shows the units consumed by customers.

The two (gsm) mobile phone networks in Kenya have become very succesful, as the state owned telecommunications company only provided the country with about 300.000 fixed-lines of which many are out of order or have been subject to vandalism.

Next to providing the public with mobile phone booths, these public phones also offer a great small-scale business opportunity for the owners of such handsets. And for those who obtain their pre-paid scratchcards at a wholesale price, there’s a 5% revenue coming along. These public phone booths are just a perfect way of helping people start their own business where the initial starting costs are quite low.

diy phone 1
(please excuse the poor picture quality)

So, instead of buying a rather expensive Safaricom handset which is specially designed for use with these roadside telephone booths, this guy next to me bought the Afrigadget-solution: This gadget actually is a very cheap MadeInChina fixed-line phone which has been ripped of it’s inwards. The person who modified it ripped an old Siemens C25 phone apart and installed its display instead of the one that came along with this phone. The keypad is soldered to the phone and a rechargeable battery is inside the box with an external power supply.

diy phone 2

The SIM card holder at the back of the phone comes with a dual-SIM-card adapter so that the operator may add another network and switch between both networks by simply switching it on and off.

These DIY-handsets for public phone booths come at a price range of about Ksh. 2.000 – 5.000 /= (~ US-$ 28 – 70) and are about half of the price the “official” handsets are selling for.

Homemade Windmill in Malawi

William Kamkwamba of Mastala VillageA young man has created a windmill out of spare parts in Malawi.

William Kamkwamba says one day while reading he came across two books, Using Energy and How it Works, which are about generation of electricity using a windmill.

On a trial and error basis, he managed to make a small windmill which generated electricity enough to light his dorm. Seeing its success he planned for a bigger one so that his parents could benefit and some well-wishers gave him money to get some of the materials he needed.

In total, he spent a total of 2200 Malawi Kwachas, which is equivalent to $16. William is saving his family money on home lighting expenses, recharges people’s mobile phones and radio batteries, and also charges his own automobile battery for backup power.

Unlike most windmills, where the propellers turn the spindle connected to the turbines directly, William added pulleys to his machine to increase speed thereby generating more energy.

There are three pulleys and the last is connected to a bicycle wheel. When this wheel turns, it spins a dynamo which in turn generates electricity.

Homemade Windmill Malawi

Story Link (via Hacktivate)

Water Buoy as a Water Tank

Marlies sends an email and pictures of a water buoy that has been converted into a water tank for drinking. Ingenious uses of materials that might seem odd to Westerners at first glance are common place in Africa. The picture was taken in Lamu, a small island off the coast of Kenya.

She says,

“I recently had a chance of spending some time in Lamu where i came across an interesting observation which made me think of AfriGadget. Here is a picture of a water suspender made out of a buoy – very neat idea!”

Water Buoy Faucet

If you have any pictures or stories of African ingenuity, send them to us at “main [at] thisdomain [dot] com”