An Oven Made From a Blockbuster Drop Box

The following story came in from Luca Varaschini (by way of David Sasaki) who was born and raised in Robertsport, Liberia where his father was a doctor. He now lives in Milan, Italy, but was in Robertsport a couple weeks ago for the first time since he left as a child.

During my first week back in Liberia I had been invited to Hawa’s birthday party, on Sembehun Beach, not far for Robertsport, so I passed some time with the ladies while they were preparing western-style food for everyone: rice, beef stake, pasta and potato salad. Then they started stirring what would have to be two cakes for the dessert, and I started wondering how they’d be able to bake them, since the only cooking apparels in the big warehouse were these coal pits on the ground.

They showed me the oven, a big metal cabinet against the far wall; looks like a refrigerator on legs, to allow a coal pit to fit under the bottom, but when I get near it, I see it’s a Blockbuster Quick Drop Booth! The front, where the slit had been closed, faces the wall and the back door is to access the oven; inside are several fridge trays, on which they lay the pans. The door is then locked with a simple bolt and sealed all around with wet cloths.

The cake was fabulous.

[Editor’s note: I’m find myself incredibly curious trying to figure out where they found this… How did a Blockbuster drop box get to Liberia?]

An Interview with Rob Katz of (Video)

Straying from the usual fare for a couple days, I wanted to post an interview that I did with Rob Katz, who runs a blog focused on businesses and entrepreneurs who are creating wealth at the “bottom of the pyramid” – those that make up the poorest 1 billion on the planet. It’s called

I had a chance to meet him last week at a conference called Pop!Tech in the United States. Many of the businesses and entrepreneurs featured on AfriGadget fit this model. If you’re interested in this subject, you’re probably already following his blog. If not, jump on over there and dig into some of the articles.

Philip’s Model Plane at International ArtBots Show (Video)

“I feel good when I do these things.”

One of my favorite stories on AfriGadget has been of Philip Isohe and his hobby of making very detailed (and working) model airplanes and buses made from scratch. Earlier this year, the ArtBots Show contacted me to get Philip to create one for them that they could show at their annual show in Dublin, Ireland that is happening this weekend. The airplane will be given away as a prize at the show.

They also asked me to create a video of Philip to use at the show:

Philip with the final airplane, painted and working:

The original story of Philip, done last summer.
More images on Zoopy and our Flickr group.

AfriGadget Videos now on Zoopy!

Joining the AfriGadget community with Zoopy’s video community

Over the past two years AfriGadget videos have been hosted haphazardly by our team on YouTube and Brightcove. We’re very happy to announce that we’re partnering with one of Africa’s premier video and image hosting sites, Zoopy, for all of our videos from now on. We’re all about promoting African entrepreneurs, and this is no exception.

Jason, and the team at Zoopy, has created a customized channel for us, that can be found at They’ve been brilliant, responsive and patient all through the setup process.

AfriGadget videos can now be found on
AfriGadget videos can now be found on

Look for a few more videos going up on Zoopy than we used to put up elsewhere, some of them the outtakes that are just sitting in the archive. We’re not video pros, as most of you know by now, but it sure is great to hear these innovators tell their own story in their own words.

Here’s an example from a story on a lady and her daughter who make custom fishing flies:

Building The Sun – A Kenyan Videographer’s DIY project

Jim is a musician, videographer and member of the Kenyan animation trio Just-A-Band. He needed a consistent light source for his video shoots, and as he puts it…
1. the sun is REALLY powerful
2. but very unpredictable

So he decided to create his own lighting equipment from easily available components that included:

1. 2 cardboard boxes (20/-)
2. 15 bulb holders (approx. 150/- each)
3. energy saving bulbs (the 23-watt ‘cool daylight’ types – 450/- each. Ouch.)
4. a roll of aluminium foil (approx. 200/-)
5. lots of cellotape/masking tape

With the help of his friend Kevin who is an electrician, he went from this




Contrast his total cost of approximately 7000 Kenya shillings (about $113) with Tungsten lights being sold in Nairobi, Kenya for 20,000 Ksh (about $320), this is a neat DIY project that not only saved him some money, but also shows the African Ingenuity we are always excited about.

Check out more pics and the rest of his post on his blog.