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

Re-use in the (unofficial) Kenyan Ironworks Industry

Gikomba is a part of Nairobi that is well known for metal working. I had been meaning to come this way for a while, and today afforded me the perfect opportunity to drop down into Gikomba and see what kind of enterprising activities Kenyans were up to.

I ran into a George Odhiambo, a bulk fabricator of everything from wheelbarrows to chisels. The chisels caught my eye, primarily because one of them looked a lot like a shaft straight out of a Land Rover. It turns out that they reuse multiple types of iron for their goods, including leftover pieces from old vehicles. Nothing goes to waste here.

Even more interesting to me (probably because it moved and did stuff with fire), was the bicycle-turned-to-bellows that kept the fire going that would heat the metal rods. It’s a fairly simple, yet ingenious contraption that utilizes old materials with a little bit of engineering. The thing runs all day, every day too, so it’s made to last.

The chisel pictured below is a stone chisel, used in quarrying and squaring stones in the quarry’s dotting the country (most houses in Kenya are stone). They cost about 350/= ($6) to make, and sell for about 650/-= ($11).