There are some pretty serious power issues in Lagos. Power outages happen multiple times per day all over the city, so everyone has a backup generator if they can afford one. What do you do if you can’t afford a generator, and/or can’t afford even a second of lost power (for your desktop computer, etc)?
Salami Olupeni Samuel (Sam) created Sam Powersystems, a company that uses locally sourced components to create power inverters which connect to car batteries for automatic backup power. Sam fabricates a 1.5kva power inverter from materials bought from local suppliers and markets.
The people who buy Sam’s equipment generally don’t have a generator, or if they do they use this so that they don’t have to power it up quite as much during short outages. You won’t need a UPS as the battery serves this purpose, providing automatic failover with an internal switch in the power inverter if your power fails.
Primary uses of the system include, computers, lights, fans, TV and decoder.
If you want to buy one, the power inverter costs 40k Naira ($250), and the battery is 50k Naira ($300).
Sulaiman Famro is a cheerful, 65 year old engineer, and a master of branding. He built the prototype “Farmking” three years ago and claims he can save the country $1 billion a year, just in savings on starch importation.
The Farmking is a one-stop processing plant for cluster and farm-site processing of root crops and grains. It has a diesel powered engine that allows for remote processing, with power out connections for lighting so that it can work all night, if needed.
On one end you have 3 devices, for chipping, grating and milling. In the middle is the power plant, and in the rear is a large steel drum that can hold 50kgs of milled cassava, that uses a spin filter to process up to 2.5 tons of milled cassava into starch.
It’s used for processing of cassava, soya beans, maize, sweet potatoes, yam and many other roots and grains. One of the more interesting uses for it is the capture of starch. Apparently there is a huge amount of waste when the processing of cassava happens in the country right now, instead of being captured it is left to seep into the ground. An incredibly wasteful, manual process currently, Sulaiman is lobbying governors of different Nigerian states to get the Farmking into their areas.
Sulaiman went to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn for his undergrad, then on to the Polytechnic Institute of NYU for his masters, finishing in 1976. The Farmking is a project of his that he built on his nights and weekends, claiming that he likes best to work by himself when no one else is around to bother him. It cost approximately 2.5m Naira ($16,000) to buy one, and the prototype (seen here) was built using his own money.
With the first prototype being built 3 years ago, the Farmking has yet to sell one to any other customers. Herein lies the problem for not just Sulaiman, but for many engineering-based founders of organizations. They can be incredibly good at building systems and tools, but aren’t interested, nor do they have the know-how to sell and market their product. It’d be good to see Sulaiman partner with a business person, or company, to streamline the sales and marketing side of the business so that he can make this invention work.
Odo Gerald is a quiet 15 year old boy who loves to make things. At Maker Faire Africa this year, you’ll find his table surrounded by all the other little boys whenever he flips the battery on. That’s because he’s got the coolest toys around by far, all manner of heavy equipment machines that operate by batter and hydraulics.
Toys made: dump truck, back hoe, excavator and a helicopter.
Odo has 4 toys he’s made over the last 4 months. They’re made of painted plywood, syringes, wooden pieces, wire, water and small tubes along with a motorcycle battery to run it all. His next big project is to make a small helicopter that he can get off the ground.
There are a number of kids at this year’s Maker Faire Africa, and it’s a real treat to see what they’re coming up with. More on some of the other projects later.
Since August, 4 creatively modified bicycles have been making the rounds of Lagos in just one neighborhood, cleaning up and recycling 5 tons of trash.
Wecyclers.com is a partnership between Billikiss Abiola (Nigeria) and Jonathan Kola (Kenya) to get people in Lagos to recycle aluminum and plastic. They do this using modified bicycles, welded to a trailer, making a tricycle that can carry large bags of sorted waste. Each bike costs approximately $500 to build, though those prices will come down as they start ramping up across the city.
I asked Billikus how they get people to recycle sachet’s (the little bags that water is sold in on the streets of Lagos), as well as plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
She explained the system, which is a partnership between Wecyclers and Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA). People are encouraged to recycle their trash using a system that tallies up the kilos of each type in a database, and then using a simple SMS system to keep people abreast of their score. One kilo of plastic is worth 10 points, one kilo of aluminum is worth 20 points. Once every three months they have a big event where you can redeem your points for items. The people with the most points get prizes.
Their other key partnership is with large corporates, like Coca Cola, who’s CSR arm sponsored the prizes and underwrote the costs of the event, giving out items like raincoats, backpacks, pens, notebooks and water bottles.
What happens when two 25 year old guys have enough knowledge to hack tuktuk’s and motorcycles, and enough time to to do it?
Ibrahim Adekunle and Shola Omoniyi are the brains behind what they call the “Tricycle Limo” and “Tricycle Jeep”.
The Tricycle Limo can hold up to 12 people, plus driver, the Tricycle Jeep can hold 5 people, plus driver. Both vehicles cost between 100-200k Naira ($600-1200) to rent for the day, and are often on call for weddings, carnivals and other events.
The Tricycle Limo takes about 1.5m Naira ($9,500) to make, and about 2 weeks to put together once they have the money. This is their first one to make, and they didn’t have enough money to do it all at once, so it took them 3 weeks to create. It’s a super-long vehicle, so I asked how they strengthen the chassis, and they do that with a very strong pipe.
The Tricycle Jeep is actually a stranger mod, using a tuktuk chassis and a 2 cylinder engine from a vehicle. The front grill can hold 100 kilos of weight, which they use for carrying bags of rice, jerry cans of water, or for mounting speakers on at events.
Finally, the motorcycle is made from a bunch of other motorcycle parts that Ibrahim found. It’s just his own personal bike, just for fun, with a 250cc engine and shade on the top for those hot days in the Lagos sun. I got to take this one for a little spin myself, and though nothing operates quite like you’d expect on a motorcycle, it was a lot of fun.
(Note: the internet connection is weak, so I’m having to upload smaller images)
Our Own Innovation Culture : How Africa is Driving a New Era of Invention
What is the role of “invention” in an ‘innovation culture’? What are the unique catalytsts that promote it, both on a macro and micro level, in African societies? As the new global model for manufacturing becomes personal, democratized and distributed, it forms tighter bonds with the systems that are already a basis of strength for much of Africa. Nigeria, in particular, has many informal systems that can naturally self-assemble into new models for innovation, both for Africa and around the world.
Maker Faire Africa’s Emeka Okafor (Timbuktu Chronicles, TEDGlobal 2009), along with Pauline Mujawamariya (African Innovation Foundation) and Moji Rhodes (Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Governor of Lagos and Coordinator, INNOVATE LAGOS Project) lead this rapid-fire overview & lively discussion, open to all workshop participants. Joined by inventors, entrepreneurs, designers and engineers from Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, and Kenya, and the U.S., the discussion will explore a variety of new tools & platforms that are being used around the world to bring inventions to market; faster, cheaper and easier than ever before, and we’ll work together to explore how these can be specifically adapted to the needs of Nigeria’s inventors. Crowd-sourced funding, indigenous materials creation, empowering women inventors, personal manufacturing platforms & technologies, and the need to brand invention inside Africa, will be primary topics of discussion.
This opening talk will be jam-packed with useful information & ideas for all types of inventors, from grassroots to Ph.D.’s, and addresses topics of interest for a variety of industries in Nigeria, including architecture, agriculture, health, sanitation, social design, engineering, fashion, film and more.
The workshop is open to MFA ’12 Exhibiting Makers, with limited seats available to the public. Register HERE.
NOVEMBER 7th, 2012
9:00am – 10:30am
CcHub (CoCreation Hub Nigeria)
6th Floor, 294 Herbet Macaulay Way
Sabo, Yaba, Lagos
+234 (01) 2950555