A young Malawian built a windmill from scratch to help power the lights in his rural home, his name is William Kamkwamba.
We’re very excited to announce that William Kamkwamba, sponsored by his organization Moving Windmills, will be coming to Maker Faire Africa. I first met William at TED Africa two years ago in Arusha, Tanzania. His story, at that time, was only known by a few of us as we had written about him on AfriGadget – but that quickly changed when he got up on the TED stage for his interview.
Last week he was on the TED stage again, this time at TED Global in Oxford. He ends his talk by saying:
“To all the people out there like me — to the Africans, and the poor, and the struggling, maybe one day you’ll watch this on the Internet: Trust yourself and believe. Whatever happens, don’t give up.”
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Due to my having been involved with TED, and knowing William, I was given an early release of the new biography of William called, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind“. It’s not out yet, but will be released a couple weeks after MFA. It’s an incredibly well-written and poignant story of hope in rural Africa.
There is also a documentary coming out about William later in the year. Below is the trailer for it, and you can tell how good of a film this will be just from this snapshot:
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.
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?”
The focus here is not on high-tech, but on manufacturing. Specifically, fabrication, the type of small and unorganized businesses that pop up wherever an entrepreneur is found on the African continent. It gets exciting when you think about gathering some of the real innovators from this sector into one place where they can learn from each other and spread their knowledge from one part of the continent to another.
A few fabrication stories on AfriGadget:
- Re-use in the Unofficial Kenya Ironworks Industry
- Junk Metal + Homemade Welder = Art?
- Homemade welding machines for use in fabrication
The organizing team will collaborate with the organizers of the International Development Design Summit (IDDS), which will be held at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in mid/late Summer 2009, to ensure a well-timed, visible, and celebratory event that draws upon IDDS outcomes and attracts new participants. The aim of Maker Faire Africa 2009 will be to establish partnerships and an organizing infrastructure that could lead to a series of events across the continent.
Needless to say, AfriGadget is 100% behind this initiative and will take an active role in both promotion and organizing, as needed.