Emeka Okafor is a venture catalyst and entrepreneur. He lives in New York City. He is the Maker Faire Africa curator.

Emeka points out some very interesting facts on Maker Faire Africa’s contributions:

  • creates awareness for African innovation
  • helps build a “productive class” whose foundation is laid on building problem solving systems
  • celebrates the existing knowledge of individual African countries and connects it across the continent and abroad
  • building a community is a basis for business
  • African makers focus on things for which there seems to be an immediate need/market
  • the biggest market is the indigenous

Eric Hersman, one of the organizers of Makers Faire 2010, talks about his learnings from last year’s event and what MFA is planning for 2010.

After the first day I have to say that I love the spirit I have felt at the event. The same like last year … very vibrant community, expiriencing that they do have omething to give, to show and then – indeed – to celebrate!

Steve Song is founder of VillageTelco, based in South Africa and he is one of the makers at Makers Faire 2010.

A village telco is a community telephone network. It is based on a suite of open source applications that enable entrepreneurs to set up and operate a telephone service in a specific area or supporting the needs of a specific community [1].  The first village telco has been established by Dabba at Orange Farm, a township near Johannesburg, South Africa. Users can make free local calls to other Dabba subscribers, as well as use pay-as-you-go vouchers to make calls to ‘phones on other networks [2].

Technically, a village telco consists of:

  • a mesh network made up of Wi-Fi mini-routers combined with an analogue telephone adaptor (aka ‘Mesh Potato’)
  • SIP phones
  • a pay-as-you-go billing and management system
  • a SIP/VOIP server
  • least cost routing equipment

Together, the components comprise an easy-to-use, standards-based, wireless, local, do-it-yourself, telephone company toolkit. The goal of a village telco is to make local telephony in developing countries inexpensive enough that it is virtually free. This has become possible, thanks to advances in open source telephony software and the dramatic decrease in the cost of wireless broadband technology.

At Maker Faire Africa 2010 Joy Tang and I interviewed Norbert Okec from Uganda on his prototype of a street light system.


MFA 2010

Maker Faire Africa 2010 has already started. Despite the morning chill, things are looking up.




Briefing on house keeping issues.


Sites have been set up and more are being done.


Maker Faire Africa 2009 maker, Pat Delany, of the MultiMachine fame presents
“A full-scale machine shop” built along similar principles:

4 simple, cheap tools for Africa