Cote d’Ivoire takes stock of their own buses

As the BBC originally reported, Cote d’Ivoire now has some new buses rolling around the country; specifically in the capital of Abidjan. While this story is seemingly uninteresting, it needs to be stated that these are their own buses, produced within Cote d’Ivoire by domestic transportation company, Sotra.

Tropically Tolerant Buses

Above and beyond employment, the bus engineers from the Ivorian “reaspora” (those who returned to their home country after time abroad) had good reason to build domestically, “In Europe the technology is very sophisticated with lots of electronic devices. In Africa we don’t need this. We just need robust buses because our roads are not very well done like in Europe. This is an African design for Africa.”

There are initial jitters from people about the reliability of the new buses, but given that Sotra has been building water buses and been involved in the transportation sector for some time, the worries will most likely go unfounded.

Miquel Hudin is the co-founder of and lead developer for Maneno, a blogging platform developed specifically for the requirements of bloggers in Sub-Saharan Africa. He writes regularly on African issues at Subsaharska on Maneno.

[H/T Timbuktu Chronicles]

A BIG Thanks!

taking pictures..

Thanks to the kindness of AfriGadget readers we were able to take a simple idea and far exceed expectations. We were looking for a mobile phone for our two young ladies in South Africa to start doing some AfriGadget mobile phone reporting on. Instead, we raised extra money and had 2 more smart phones given directly to the project!

What Next?

We’re off to the races with the Sony Ericsson C702 that you helped us buy, and the Nokia N95 that David Sasaki provided to Zintle and Lukhona when he was in South Africa earlier this month (pictured above).

The new phone from Michele is going into my bag with my Nokia N95 as I try to find another two mobile reporters in some other countries in Africa. I’ve got one eye on a likely candidate in Kenya, but want to try to get outside my normal stomping grounds in East Africa. If you have an idea of someone who has a good multimedia eye, likes to tell stories and would be good for AfriGadget, send them my way please.


These two individuals went far beyond what we expected and actually gave their Nokia N95’s to the project:

Michele Bowman, futurist at Fringehog (Nokia N95)
David Sasaki of Global Voices (Nokia N95)


We tried to raise $500, and received $595 $670… Wow, thanks!

Jean Hopkins
Ken Banks
Heather Ford
Henk Kleynhans of Skyrove
Larry Bibayoff
Nicola from the UK
Matthias Zeeb
Elizabeth Meiners
Juergen Eichholz
Andre Vermeulen
Dr. Bakali
Russ Hersman
David D’Angelo of Serac Films
Alex Sauriol
Tielman Nieuwoudt
Georgia Popplewell
Ian Reclusado
Maxime Biais
Matt Heffron

Again, a big thank you to everyone who helped make this a reality. Let’s see if we can grow AfriGadget from the grassroots up.

(If your name isn’t linked above, and you would like it to be, please send me the URL you would like me to attribute it to)

Re-using a wheeled carriage for babies to make a living

Madmoet Abrahams has been living and working on the street for more then 20 years now. He found a great way to make a living. Everyday you’ll find him in the streets of Cape Town, South Africa collecting White paper. 1 KG of White paper will pay him 23 South African Rand (approximately $2.35) at the paper scrap yard.

Madmoet Abrahams

Per day he makes more or less 50 Rand. He is a hard worker. I met him in the pouring rain, which didn’t stop him from spitting through the bins in search for more paper. He saved money and bought a bicycle for 300 Rand last year. The bicycle, in combination with his creative re-use of a wheeled carriage for babies connected to it, allows Madmoet to make twice as much money per day! His big dream is to have a paid job and a house.

This friendly, clever and hard working man can be reached under the Sunlam bridge in Cape Town or somewhere on the street…

Madmoet explains where to go with the paper
The tools to success..

Paraffin Lamps and the Informal Recycling Industry

Franco Mithika works in Gikomba, an industrial area in greater Nairobi. His job is to take scrap metal tin cans and a soldering iron to fabricate paraffin lamps. Paraffin lamps are used by millions of Kenyans, especially those who cannot afford or get electricity into their home for lighting.

Creating Paraffin Lamps in Gikomba

It costs about 110/= Kenyan shillings to make, and it sells for around 150/= ($1.90). You can buy them wholesale for 1550/= ($20) for 24 pieces. It takes about a minute to make one (less for the truly gifted fabricators).

Here is a video of him making one:

Thinking about the unofficial recycling industry

What’s particularly interesting here, is that this scrapes the surface of a rather larger recycling industry that hums beneath the surface of the city. How it works is this. The youngest and poorest go around the city and collect scrap metal of all types. These are then taken to a buyer who sorts them into their different types. This is who people like Franco then buy from and create their wares.

The scrap metal picked up gets sold for just a few shillings per kilo. When sorted, the tin cans that Franco buys, are sold for 300/= ($4) per kilo.

So, there’s a rather efficient system at work. It’s run by entrepreneurs who figure out a way to make things work. A byproduct is that everything (metal) is used, and much less waste than there would be otherwise.

Gathering and transporting the scraps:
Informal Recycling Industry

The scrap sorting place (Kawangware):
Informal Recycling Industry

The cans for the paraffin lamps sorted:
Creating Paraffin Lamps in Gikomba

Other “sorted” scrap metal items:
Informal Recycling Industry

An AfriGadget Slideshow and Interview

A couple weeks ago, on a trip to Cambridge (US), Clark Boyd of The World sat down with me to do a quick interview and to grab some pictures from my most recent trip to Kenya for a slideshow. Here are the results (you can definitely tell a pro is behind this production):

[Direct slideshow link – higher quality]

Courtesy of Clark Boyd, Technology Correspondent for The World, a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI, and WGBH Boston. For Clark’s weekly technology podcast, visit