There was a major announcement today from Nokia about the release of cheap phones for the emerging markets, featuring dual sims and the ever useful LED flashlight. What is even more interesting is that with the launch of the phones, a bicycle charger kit. According to CNET Asia, the kit will be available by year’s end.
Rounding up the announcements today is the Bicycle Charger Kit, which comprises a charger, dynamo and phone holder. When docked to the latter with a 2mm charger jack, the electrical generator will produce energy to juice up the handset. According to Nokia, the dynamo starts charging when the speed of the bicycle reaches 6kmh and stops when it hits 50kmh. It matches the efficiency of a normal charger when the bike is traveling at 12kmh.
The bicycle charger kit will be useful to many people in Kenya and other emerging markets, its only a matter of time before it is repurposed to charge other devices like small radios. All in all the phones seem AfriGadgetty, what with their dual sims; perfect for markets where people have more than one carrier – thinking of Nigeria here, where its not uncommon to see someone with multiple phones because of varying network coverage/dependability + LED flashlights, it is clear that Nokia is making products that have utility for millions of people around Africa. Personally I can’t wait to try out the phones and mobile kits as soon as I can get my hands on them. Come to think of it, this is hardware localization, something that could go hand in hand with the software localization we are clamoring for in the African market.
For modded bicycle posts from the AfriGadget archive, click here.
Many thanks to my friend Cyrus for the heads up, I think he has just inspired me to blog again.
My good friend Jagi Gakunju who runs the Kenyan environmental cyclists club Uvumbuzi club told me about this project which immediately caught my attention. It’s a collaboration with Africans and a Dutch organization.
The Cycling Blue Kenya workshop is providing courses, micro credit for (modified) bicycles and creating of employment, it is aimed to reduce poverty. In the workshop bicycles will be modified to create bicycle carts (for instance bicycle ambulances) for sale. Who buys them? Garbage collectors, local entrepreneurs who want a (modified) bicycle to generate income such as the Cool coolbox, bicycles with extended carriers for transport of cabbages.
Here’s what they are cooking at the moment in Kisumu
The idea that bicycles in Africa get modified and adapted for local uses is definitely 100% afrigadget.
I was driving down a street in Nairobi today and did a double-take when I saw a man standing by a motorized bicycle. One u-turn (of questionable legality) later and I was chatting with Samuel Magethe, a local carpenter who does house calls. Apparently, he usually carries his toolbox and wood supplies on the back of the bicycle, though he didn’t have them with him today. He has used the bike for 2 years and says that it’s a great help to him as he gets older and has problems with the hills.
I talked with Samuel for a while and found out that he had bought the engine and bicycle in downtown Nairobi. Since I had to go downtown anyway, I decide to hunt out the seller and see if I could get the background story on where the motors come from and the specs on them.
It turns out that the engines, and bicycles, are imported from the ADTEC Corporation in Japan. (As an aside, it appears that Adtec motorcycles are part of the big influx of Asian motorcycles being used as taxis in E. Africa.) It’s a 48cc 2-stroke engine that has a top speed of 40Kph (25mph). The tank can hold 2 litres of fuel and they claim that it gets 70 kilometres per litre.
You can buy the bicycle plus engine for 15,000 Ksh ($200) or just the motor for 10,000 Ksh ($135).
The company that sells them in Kenya, Adventure Technology Company Ltd, has their main office in downtown Nairobi, where they had their last two bikes that weren’t sold. In 2009 they imported 500 bicycles and sold them in their 13 branches across the country. The branch manager, Julius Lumumba, tells me it’s a good business, and they sell very quickly – especially up country in places like Kakamega, Bunguma and Kisumu.
[Note: I forgot my cameras today, so I just had my iPhone to do the pictures/video with, thus the lower-res, sorry.]
Bernard Kiwia is from Arusha, Tanzania. He’s here at Maker Faire Africa as part of the IDDS group that has been building innovative devices for the last couple weeks in Kumasi, Ghana. Today he’s showing his device that he created from an old bicycle and some welded rods. It’s powered by someone sitting in a chair.
It cost Bernard about $45 to create the bicycle powered hacksaw and one day to fabricate.
Bernard’s been a bicycle mechanic for 3 years, and has been teaching students in Tanzania to fix them for the last couple. He was invited to IDDS and met a Guatemalan attendee that had some very interesting designs using bicycles. After seeing those, he realized that he could make similar tools and devices for the needs of people in Arusha.
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