African technological innovations made from scraps
Often the genius that emerges from places that are overlooked in terms of development can be nothing short of astounding. Take the Indonesian man who crafted a working bionic arm using scrap metal from his junkyard. Wayan Sumardana is only educated up to a technical secondary school yet was able to construct something out of a science fiction film. There are similar examples of inventions created from unexpected sources.
Africans have repeatedly churned out incredible DIY contraptions. Malawian William Kamkwamba taught himself to build windmills using items from a junkyard in his village. A Nigerian undergraduate student Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi built a helicopter in his back garden using parts from old cars and motorbikes. Helicopters have similarly been built from scraps in Kenya where Gabriel Nderitu has tried 14 times to get his machine to fly. Kelvin Doe from Sierra Leone was able to build batteries, transmitters and generators with next to nothing. Doe is the youngest person ever to be part of the MIT’s visiting practitioner’s program. In Nigeria again, prototypes of generators that run on water and urine have been built. The urine-powered generator especially gained popularity due to its premise — and the fact that it was built by three teenaged schoolgirls.
Such ingenuity is celebrated on websites such as AfriGadget and with initiatives like Maker Faire. However, few are as lucky as the Kayoola, a solar-powered electric bus said to be the first in East Africa. The bus prototype was built by engineers from the Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) with funds from the Ugandan government. Despite the initial push, it is highly unlikely that the Kayoola will be mass produced without the more financial investment.
There is no doubt that technological innovation abounds in Africa, yet there still remains a dire need to improve science and technology sectors. For this growth to take place on a large scale in African countries, it will need to scale the hurdle that is the lack of funds needed to continue research and improvements. African governments need to invest in the creative minds of their citizens but so far few seem to be interested.
Do you think African governments are showing enough interest in technology and science sectors? Leave a comment below or reach me on Twitter @rafeeeeta