Matt Berg over at BuildAfrica blog has an interesting story of Mr Acheampong, a local entrepreneur who makes money by charging people’s mobile phones. He uses a homemade C-cell battery setup to do this (see below):
“Mr. Acheampong, one of the Abusuapanin Community Leader’s in Bonsaaso village, use’s 4 C dry cell batteries to charge mobile phones. The four 1.5V batteries in series adds up to 6V which is similar to the 5.5V that most cell phones require (amperage varies). The set of batteries cost 1 Ghana Cedi and he is able to charge four phones before needing to replace the batteries. This compares to the 1 Cedi cost of charging a phone at the local cell tower.”
However, Matt points out how inefficient this type of setup is. There are new low-cost options including the Tough Stuff Solar Panel coming in at around $20 retail.
Fundamentally speaking one of the most essential components of any industrial ecosystem is the machine tool a device which is used to “fabricate metal components of machines“. Consequently the absence of a machining capacity precludes the ability of an entity (regional,national and or continent-wide) to industrialize.The question then becomes how do we effectively seed and propagate the skill of machining cheaply and pervasively? How do we Bootstrap the Industrial Age? The open source MultiMachine presents us with what could turn out to be one of the more attractive options. Wikipedia describes it as an:
…all-purpose open source machine tool that can be built inexpensively by a semi-skilled mechanic with common hand tools, from discarded car and truck parts, using only commonly available hand tools and no electricity. Its size can range from being small enough to fit in a closet to one a hundred times that size. The MultiMachine can accurately perform all the functions of an entire machine shop by itself.
Lets think about this for a minute “an all purpose machine tool that…can accurately perform all the functions of an entire machine shop” built from discarded parts by semi-skilled mechanics (replace with,jua kali workers,suame magazine fabbers etc.) What may be missing? A power source of sorts with the necessary torque and availability even in the most rural of areas.Perhaps coupling it with a system like the multifunctional platform would solve that problem.
Can we now make the assumption that all the necessary pieces are available, albeit with the expected and necessary geographic/environmental adaption needed for individual installations? Admittedly it does seem somewhat more feasible, the task at hand is too envision methods of making such systems available to those in-need fabricators.Those who may argue against the bottom-up rudimentary approach should consider this.Contrary to the perceived wisdom a considerable number of machine parts are still made in small engineering workshops, where they ultimately provide the input for larger better known industrial behemoths even in uber-industrialized Japan. Maker Faire Africa with its commitment to embedding metal hacking far and wide will do its very best place to support this approach and others like it and have fun while doing so…
We’ve been asked by a number of people if they could sponsor Maker Faire Africa as individuals. Amounts that range from $25 to $100. This is a good idea, and in line with the type of event that this is. Committee member Mark Grimes, founder of Ned.com, is in charge of all the funds, and he will be using a PayPal account to receive those personal sponsorships until we have a better way to handle it.
[UPDATE: Mark has created a widget that allows anyone to sponsor MFA on the main page.]
There’s a whole page and a PDF download of information for those interested in sponsoring Maker Faire Africa. It basically breaks down like this:
Panthera Leo (lion) Package ($7,500)
Everything in Loxodonta Africana and Gazella Rufifrons packages plus:
- 10 VIP conference passes
- 2 sponsored workshops with product demos
- 1 page advertisement in conference guide
- Use of conference mailing list within 6 months of event
- Banner placement at entrance and in auditorium
- Keynote address sponsorship message
- Guest article on Maker Faire Africa web site
- Logo on conference bag
Loxodonta Africana (elephant) Package ($1,500)
Everything in the Gazella Rufifrons package plus:
- Exhibitor space
- 4 VIP conference passes
- Mention in email broadcasts
- Included in news releases
- 1/2 page advertisement in conference guide
- Goodies in conference bag
Gazella Rufifrons (gazelle) Package ($250)
- 100 word listing and logo in conference guide
- 100 word listing on web site
- Placing of material on literature table
- Logo on t-shirt, shirts free to attendees
Dylan Tweney at Wired writes about the emergence of ‘Hacker Spaces’:
Located in rented studios, lofts or semi-commercial spaces, hacker spaces tend to be loosely organized, governed by consensus, and infused with an almost utopian spirit of cooperation and sharing.
“The way hacker spaces are organized seems to be a reaction against American individualism — the idea that we all need to be in our separate single-family homes with a garage,” says White(NYC Resistor member). “Choosing to organize collectives where you’re sharing a space and sharing tools with people who are not your family and not your co-workers — that feels different to me.”…[continue reading]
Maker Faire Africa logo winner:
The final logo was chosen because of how versatile it was for MFA. Maker Faire Africa represents a lot of different types of people, pastimes and projects. Having the imagery be more than just one type of gadget or practice seemed like a better fit. The four different colored icons could be used for multiple types of branding purposes.
We almost chose the windmill because of the story it tells. What it really is is a silhouette of William’s Windmill, a story that has garnered a lot of attention due to the youth and ingenuity of William Kamkwamba. It’s a little rough around the edges, just like the windmill – but it works, has meaning and tells the story of so many other inventors, tinkerers and micro-entrepreneurs across a vast and complicated continent.
This last week we’ve been running a competition to create the Maker Faire Africa logo over at 99designs. It’s been a lot of fun, with a lot of great entries. Here are just the top rated ones, the 3 with check marks are the finalists.
Maker Faire Africa is an event happening next summer in Ghana. It needs a logo though, and for the designers who read this, it’s your chance to win a quick $250. Jump on over to THE CONTEST to get started.
(Not a designer? Pass this on to someone who is, and feel free to leave your comments on which designs you like/don’t like.)
What is Maker Faire Africa?
As Emeka puts it:
The aim of a Maker Faire-like event is to create a space on the continent where Afrigadget-type innovations, inventions and initiatives can be sought, identified, brought to life, supported, amplified, propagated, etc. Maker Faire Africa asks the question, “What happens when you put the drivers of ingenious concepts from Mali with those from Ghana and Kenya, and add resources to the mix?”
This logo will be used on the redesigned website, print materials and t-shirts.
How it Works
A couple months back I tested out 99designs.com for logo creation, and was incredibly impressed with how easy it was to get going and for designers to take part in quick project work. The contest is open for 7 days (Dec 25th – Christmas), and anyone can go register as a designer to submit an entry.
Once you’ve registered and submitted a design, we’ll be leaving feedback on what direction to take it, and we’ll rate them using their 5-star system. You can submit as many entries as you like. Make sure you read the creative brief before you go too far. We realize that one of the main problems with any contest like this is Africa is payment to the winner. We’ll be creative in making sure that if the winner does come from anywhere in Africa, you’ll get paid.
Who is behind it?
The organizing team is made up of Emeka (Timbuktu Chronicles), Mark (Ned.com), Amy Smith (MIT IDDS), Lars (MIT), Nii (Nubian Cheetah), Erik (AfriGadget), and Juliana (Afromusing). It is in the very early stages of organization, and we’ve each contributed some money to get the logo created.
O’Reilly, along with the guys at Maker Faire have given us their blessing to use the name.