Most of the stories that reach us from Africa are about drought, famine, war, brutality, and desperation. AfriGadget looks to reveal a quirkier, more inspiring side of the continent. A multiauthored blog created by tech expert Erik Hersman, AfriGadget showcases innovation and entrepreneurship on a human scale. The blog is a fresh look at Africa crammed with video, pictures, and interviews. Among the creations featured on the site are bamboo shoes, robots fashioned from old TV parts, solar panel vests, and animal sculptures built with interlocking snares.
With African countries boasting some of the highest unemployment rates in the world (25 percent in South Africa, 40 percent in Kenya, 95 percent in Zimbabwe), resourcefulness and ingenuity are the stuff of survival. And, according to AfriGadget, neither is in short supply. Said AfriGadget blogger Steve Mugiri in an interview with “The Sietch Blog,” “AfriGadget is about walking around the world we live in with our eyes open.… The typical story on AfriGadget represents the reality of what people have to do every day: [work] hard to find solutions to their daily problems.”
Take Frederick Msiska, a peasant farmer with an elementary-level education, who invented an electricity-generating biogas converter for his toilet, a fan, a cell phone charger, and a chemical sprayer for his farm. His inventions, Msiska says, are born of trial and error: he studies products supplied by the government and then labors to create and improve them for himself. Jane Ngoiri dreamt of becoming a surgeon but ended up alone in one of Nairobi’s worst slums, living in one room with her four children, supporting them through prostitution. With the help of a series of loans from Jamii Bora, one of the largest microcredit banks in Kenya, Ngoiri began buying discarded wedding dresses from developed countries and stitching them into Sunday dresses for children. She now runs a successful clothing business and gives free sewing lessons to other women.