Last weekend was Maker Faire Africa, a gathering of “makers”—inventors, retoolers, upcyclers, etc.—from across the continent that celebrated small-scale innovation and ingenuity, held this year in Nairobi, Kenya. It’s the latest reminder of the rising consciousness about African inventors and innovators, heralded by books like The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and websites like Afrigadget.

Photo from Flickr/Maker Faire Africa
Steve Daniels, a 21-year-old designer and IBM researcher, has written about African makers in his new book, Making Do: Innovations in Kenya’s Informal Economy. (In keeping with the spirit, the book also has an innovative purchase system: You can pay with a tweet and read it online, or pay for the cost of printing to receive a hard copy.)
An excerpt from the book ran on The Atlantic’s blog:
“... Informal artisans who engage in the production of goods are known as jua kali (Swahili for ‘hot sun’) and have established entire ecosystems of production, from scrap sourcing to repair. ...
“The jua kali provide important lessons for Western economics that compel us to revise our notion of efficiency. ... Indeed, instating these notions of efficiency will be necessary to foster a more sustainable and equitable form of development around the globe.”
Want to learn more about technological innovation and Africa? Stay tuned for the Holiday 2010 issue of World Ark magazine, where you'll read “Can You Hear Us Now? Why Technology Is Africa’s Latest, Greatest Poverty Fighter,” by Frank Bures.

Author

Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.