Simon has hardwired a way to open and lock his door remotely via his phone, as well as get tea brewing and other manual and remote tasks. The video speaks for itself, so I’m not going to say anything other than to link you to my past thoughts on challenges for tech entrepreneurs in Africa.
Maker Faire Africa (MFA) is a new event celebrating the innovation, ingenuity and invention within Africa – happening August 13-15 of this year in Accra, Ghana.
We came at this event from a specific angle – we mixed the types of individuals who show up on AfriGadget and Timbuktu Chronicles, and the ethos of the greater MAKE community, all with the blessings of the good folks at Maker Faire. The dates were chosen to coincide with Amy Smith’s and MIT’s International Development and Design Summit (IDDS), which will run for 3 weeks before MFA, also in Ghana.
As Emeka puts it:
The aim of a Maker Faire-like event is to create a space on the continent where Afrigadget-type innovations, inventions and initiatives can be sought, identified, brought to life, supported, amplified, propagated, etc. Maker Faire Africa asks the question, “What happens when you put the drivers of ingenious concepts from Mali with those from Ghana and Kenya, and add resources to the mix?”
How You can Support MFA
First off, help spread the word! Let people know where and when it will be. Share the link to the site, grab a badge, blog it.
Second, help us find sponsors. If you know an organization or individual who would like to support this amazing event, put us in touch with them. It could be monetary, or it could be donating some cool gadgets, gear, tools or devices for people to hack on while there. (example idea: we’d love to get some LEGO Mindstorm kits for the local high schools).
Third, come. If you have the time and ability, we’d love to have you, your ideas and your gadgets at MFA.
In my role as founder of AfriGadget, I’m part of the organizing team to put together Maker Faire Africa, joined by my an excellent group of people including:
- Emeka Okafor of Timbuktu Chronicles and the Director of TED Africa
- Erik Hersman, Founder of AfriGadget
- Lars Hasselblad Torres, Director MIT IDEAS Competition
- Mark Grimes, Founder Ned.com and Founder NedSpace
- Nii Simmonds of Nubian Cheetah
Want to get involved yourself? Get in touch!
Alfred Sirleaf is an analog blogger. He take runs the “Daily News”, a news hut by the side of a major road in the middle of Monrovia. He started it a number of years ago, stating that he wanted to get news into the hands of those who couldn’t afford newspapers, in the language that they could understand.
Alfred serves as a reminder to the rest of us, that simple is often better, just because it works. The lack of electricity never throws him off. The lack of funding means he’s creative in ways that he recruits people from around the city and country to report news to him. He uses his cell phone as the major point of connection between him and the 10,000 (he says) that read his blackboard daily.
Not all Liberians who read his news are literate, so he makes use of symbols. Whether it’s a UN or military helmet, a poster of a soccer player or a bottle of colored water to denote gas prices, he is determined to get the message out in any way that he can.
Advertising works here too. It’s $5 to be on the bottom level, $10 to be on the sideboard and $25 on the main section. He doesn’t get a lot of advertising, and but he manages to scrape by.
His plans for the future include decentralizing his work, this means opening up identical locations in other parts of Monrovia, and in a few of the larger cities around the country. I don’t put it past Alfred either, he’s a scrappy entrepreneur on a mission to bring information and news to ordinary Liberians. He’s succeeded thus far, and I would put my money on him growing it even further.
(Also, read the NYT piece on him from 3 years ago)
Dr. Cedrick Ngalande is an inventor. He’s been working on inventing new ways for everyday rural Africans to create enough electricity to power items like mobile phones or other small electrical devices. In the past, he’s been on AfriGadget for his yeast + sugar rotary electricity generator.
Today he has announced a new project called Green Erg, which harnesses (literally) a person’s movement energy to create electricity.
“This is basically a dynamo which is being driven as a result of friction between the ground and the blocks. The small yellowish blocks (these are covered by rubber in the real commercial product) rotate as you pull it. They are designed to rotate even on bumpy run even roads. We have tested it on moist lawn and have worked. It is very smooth so much that you basically don’t feel any disturbance as
you move along.
At normal walking speeds we have gotten more than 2 watts which is more than enough for running cell phones or radios. I envision that people will attach this to themselves and walk with it – or even attach it to an ox-cart, a skating board, bike, etc.”
We’re proud to announce a brand new design for AfriGadget! The old design was rather old and ugly, so thanks for putting up with it for the last 20 months. Actually, I think the reason that there are so many more RSS subscribers to AfriGadget than daily visitors can be attributed to how it looked… 🙂
2 New Things:
You’ll notice two buttons just beneath the header. We’re working on a number of items, two of which we’re ready to unveil.
The AfriGadget Grassroots Reporting Project
We’re intent on getting more AfriGadget contributors from all over Africa. Part of that plan is to find potential editors and set them up with a mobile phone with which to take pictures and do interviews. If you know someone that would make a good fit, let me know.
The AfriGadget Store (phase 1)
The first phase of the store is making some AfriGadget gear (t-shirts and mugs) available to everyone (hint: you can customize any design and select any type of shirt/color to put it on). The next step is to create a full-featured store with some of the items that are made by the entrepreneurs shown on AfriGadget. This would include products, as well as plans.
One of the big goals here is to create a service that doesn’t just publish interesting stories about African micro-entrepreneurs, though we do plan on continuing that, but to also explore ways that we can be a conduit back to those very same people. This redesign already has our future plans for dealing with entrepreneurs built into it. Part of that is the future phases of the AfriGadget store, but we’re also looking at ways to partner with others and encourage direct investment into worthy entrepreneurs businesses.
Look for more on that in a future update. Until then, we’re just happy we have some new stuff to show you!
If you find any errors, which I’m sure there will be some, please leave a comment or shoot me an email.
Lastly, a special thanks goes out to Jared for making this site look so good.