Maina, Rhoda and little Winnie are a typical Kenyan family who live on the outskirts of Nairobi in an area that has no electricity.
But they have solved the problem of getting the daily news
When I visited their home I was impressed that despite the lack of electricity, Maina has come up with an innovative solution and is able to keep up with whats going on and listen to his favourite Kikuyu music all day long!
Here’s a better look at the system – a second hand car battery hooked up directly to his radio
The wiring is simple
Fully charged the battery last 2 weeks. To recharge Maina has to take it to a place in town for 24 hours at a cost of Ksh 50 (about 80 cents US. If he were to use ordinary batteries Maina would be paying several hundreds of shillings per month (15$) and creating toxic waste with their disposal (Kenya has no battery disposal system). No wonder used batteries are in such huge demand!
And no wonder this family is smiling!
I’m wondering how much it would cost to hook up Mainas battery to a solar panel and some lights. They currently depend on hurricane lamps. Powered with kerosene these are not only a weak source of light but are dangerous and prone to cause fires.
Got any ideas anyone – can we charge a car battery from solar?
Aviwe (10 years) and Fuzile (8years) started their own band! They call them selves “Thandabantu”….this Xhosa word means: “the one who loves people”. Their father died in a car accident a few years ago. Their mother, Cordelia, is injured from the accident and unable to walk properly. She can’t really work. She didn’t finish school. She tries to sell as many home baked cookies as possible to her community in township Khayelitsha to make an income for herself and her 2 sons.
Cordelia and her kids constructed their own instrument! It takes: 2 buckets, 4 sticks, a piece of leather, some wire and lots of bottle tops!
The boys started making some noise on the streets of Cape Town, got some money and soon were able to buy a real instrument! The keyboard (600 Rand), together with the drums and the boys’ voices are the current ingredients for the Thandabantu-band.
They now play their music to collect money to go to school. During this summer holiday they made 100-200 Rand a day. School is free, but lunch (3rand/child) and travel (5 rand/child) has to be paid every day.
I sincerely hope not to see those boys the coming weeks in town. This would mean they have been able to save enough money to attend school every day this year. During the weekends and in School Holidays you can come and listen to Aviwe and Fuzile at the corner of St. Georges Mall and Strand Street in the Cape Town City Center.
Their repertoire consists of some imaginative songs. They can’t read a note… hmmm…who knows there is some musician reading this? I bet ya the boys would love to know more about music. They seem to enjoy it a lot.
(note: my apologies for the video quality, but it was taken with my phone…)
In downtown Bamako, Mali an entrepreneurial bookshop owner, Mamadou Coulibaly, has been attracting an ever-increasing number of clients and curious onlookers since the owner set up an odd-looking computer. “The Source” is a handmade computer box that acts as an offline distributor of online multimedia material. Anyone can step up to the kiosk and pick up anything from Wikipedia pages to local music. Their most popular requests: the Koran and Malian music.
“Our goal is to give people a wider access to educational and cultural material, so this can help to trigger their desire to learn and expand their knowledge.”
This type of innovation really brings home the slow, or expensive, capacity of local internet connections. Bypassing internet cafes (slow) for local, or more static content, can be done through local-only internet hosting too. However, what’s ingenious here is the idea that most people in Bamako don’t need the internet connection at all. That by acting as a simple distribution node for dynamic information and media (the web) they are successfully filling the needs of the local population.
It’s always good to see local-level entrepreneurs benefiting from taking outside ideas and making them work for their needs in Africa. Many times a completely new solution isn’t needed, just a culturally relevant one.
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