Where the World Sees Junk, Africa Recycles

This post is dedicated to Blog Action Day, where thousands of blogs around the world unite to talk about one theme. This year it is the environment.

Recycled Sheet Metal Crocodile

Simon Mwangi calls himself a mabati (sheet metal) blacksmith. He takes junk and creates beautiful metal animal sculptures. If you happen by his roadside shop on Ngong Road in Nairobi, you’ll see a number of crocodiles and if you’re lucky, a full sized giraffe.

If you’re in the market for a crocodile, which he sells primarily to hotels, be ready to pay 30,000 Kenya Shillings (about $450). They take about one week to make.

A Successful Business Entrepreneur in Africa

What’s remarkable about Simon, beyond the actual artwork that he fabricates, is that everything he does and works with is made from left over metal junk. Even the welding machines that his team uses are made by the team from leftover metal plates and copper wire. (See an example of the welder at this earlier AfriGadget post)

This is an excellent example of how Africans reuse and recycle to meet their needs. Many times their ingenuity creates thriving businesses, proving that entrepreneurship and environmental needs aren’t mutually exclusive.

(More images in the AfriGadget Flickr Group)

A South African’s Homemade Paraglider

Most of the stories on AfriGadget are stories of work-based ingenuity. However, every once in a while you get an incredible story about someone who creates an amazing do-it-yourself “fun” item. In this case Wired is reporting about Cyril Mazibuko who creates his own home made paraglider:

Cyril is the only black South African currently registered with the sport’s ruling body. And it all started with a glider he made from plastic bags, purloined rope and baling wire, a glider that flew — sort of — though it both amazed and horrified the professional paragliders who saw it.

South African’s Homemade Paraglider

Read the full story at Wired

(hat tip Tyrell)

Kickstart Technologies: irrigation, and cooking oil human-powered pumps

I met the managers of Kickstart technology at the recent TED Global conference in Arusha, Tanzania. Kickstart’s patented technology bridges the gap between expensive industrialize equipment used to pump, squeeze or pack and all it’s products are human powered. This is a very important feature in Africa for the Base of the Pyramid (BOP) market, because it solves the issue of energy and cost for equipment used in agriculture, and construction.

Kickstart’s most popular product is an irrigation pump that uses the stepping motion you see in a work-out gym to move water hundreds of feet to irrigate land. Kickstart also has been able to sell several thousands of these products all across Africa, and has been approach by the United Nations to sell globally.

Below is the irrigation pump

Kickstart pressing pump for building construction

Below you can see a picture of a person squeezing seeds to make oil

Here is a little more about Kickstart from the organization’s website.

About KickStart

KickStart’s mission is to help millions of people out of poverty. We promote sustainable economic growth and employment creation in Kenya and other countries by developing and promoting technologies that can be used by dynamic entrepreneurs to establish and run profitable small scale enterprises.

Go to the organization website

William’s Windmill

William’s Windmill, originally uploaded by whiteafrican.

Inspiring, innovative and representative of what Africa’s future holds.

William Kamkwamba is a 19 year old Malawian who built his first windmill at 14. Here he is, pictured just this last week doing some work on his windmill near his home.

The propellers are made of plastic pipes supported by sticks to that they should not bend when the wind is strong and placed almost vertical to the direction the winds is coming.

Unlike in most windmills where the propellers directly 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 turns a dynamo which in turn generates electricity.

Read his blog for inspiring stories about making things work in rural Africa!

Read more on William’s Windmill blog in Malawi.

Kenyan Windmill: Bicycle Parts and Roofing Materials

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).

(Read the whole story at Farming Solutions)

Kenyan Waterpump Windmill

(via Timbuktu Chronicles)