Welcome to HMKV's blog.

This blog currently documents a research trip to twelve former Soviet Republics for a new regional project of the Goethe-Institut (2015-17). Earlier entries document the "Afro-Tech and the Future of (Re-)Invention" research trip to Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria (10-25 April 2014, Anne Bergner and Inke Arns), and the INDUSTRIAL on Tour trip to five industrial cities in Poland (27 Sep - 9 Oct 2011, Thibaut de Ruyter, Inke Arns et al.)

Afro-Tech - in Johannesburg, Lagos and in Nairobi (11-24 April 2014)

Afro-Tech and the Future of Re-invention is a research project by Hartware MedienKunstVerein (HMKV) which looks at the use, the adaptation and (re-)invention of (new) technologies in three African countries. The subtitle reads: Alternative Technological Energies and Intelligences in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria. Researchers: Anne Bergner and Inke Arns.

Timbuktu Chronicles - a must read for all Afro-Tech lovers

A must read for all Afro-Tech lovers: Emeka Okafor's blog Timbuktu Chronicles!

Nairobi: Kamukunji Jua Kali Association

Some products on sale at the Kamukunji Jua Kali Association, Nairobi. Check out their website at https://sites.google.com/site/kamukunjijuakali/

Imagine about hundred of these craftsmen of the Kamukunji Jua Kali Association working in one space covered by a tin roof, hammering on scrap metal, making great new stuff (tools, household appliances) out of the waste of the so-called 1rst World. Imagine the sheer noise. Brueghelian.
Workshops of the Kamukunji Jua Kali Association, Nairobi, facing the road
Inke and Simiya showing their visitor passes at Kamukunji Jua Kali Association, Nairobi
Visitor Committee of the Kamukunji Jua Kali Association, Nairobi

Check out their website at https://sites.google.com/site/kamukunjijuakali/

Nairobi: Meet Dr. Kamau Gachigi of FabLab, University of Nairobi

Yesterday we had a great meeting with Dr. Kamau Gachigi who is heading the Nairobi FabLab located on the ground floor of the University of Nairobi’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Read more about Dr. Gachigi here: http://generationkenya.co.ke/kamau-gachigi-the-engineer/

(the portrait was taken by Daudi Were and can be found here: http://generationkenya.co.ke/kamau-gachigi-the-engineer/)

Nairobi FabLab

Inke and Kimali at Nairobi FabLab, 23 April 2014.
Anne and Kimali at Nairobi FabLab, 23 April 2014.
No comment.

Nairobi: Kenyan Biogas System - Flexi Biogas

The biogas produced by the Flexi Biogas system (invented by Dominic Kahum) can be used for cooking, electricity generators, advanced chick brooders, food driers, and evapo-coolers. This is such a cool thing!! Check out http://biogas.co.ke for more information - and watch the video (with the sound of frolicking chicken in the background)!

Nairobi: Gearbox - Kenya's first open makerspace for design and rapid prototyping

"What happens when you merge Kenya’s decades-old Jua Kali skills with our vibrant five-year old software community?" (Erik Hersman) We would be VERY curious to know!! Gearbox will soon be getting off the ground on the second floor of Bishop Magua Centre, Ngong Road, Nairobi Kenya. Check out their website: http://gearbox.co.ke/

Nairobi: Erik Hersman's blog WhiteAfrican

Check out Erik Hersman's blog WhiteAfrican - his latest post about "Unequal Distribution and Perception of Emerging Markets" is a throught-provoking read. And he is a great person to meet!

Nairobi: Introducing Ushahidi's BRCK

Now this is a great project: Ushahidi's BRCK. "All kinds of jobs require steady connectivity, even when infrastructure is spotty due to wireless connections, intermittent power, or devices that can’t share connections. Seeing this, Ushahidi set out to redesign connectivity for the world we live in - Africa." -- "BRCK makes accessing the internet simple and reliable wherever you are. It’s a rugged, cloud managed, full-featured modem/router with built in fail-overs and programmable GPIO expansion. There’s a way for you to connect, BRCK will help you do get up and stay up no matter where you are." (Source: http://www.brck.com/)

Nairobi: Meeting with Erik Hersman, Founder of Ushahidi

Erik Hersman is an international technology influencer with a keen eye on the impact of web and mobile technology innovation across Africa. Raised in Sudan and Kenya, Erik brings unique energy and insight to the world of technology and innovation – bridging the gap between Africa and Silicon Valley. He has a B.S. in Business Management from Florida State University. As part of the Ushahidi strategy he has been building the iHub (Nairobi’s innovation hub) since early 2010, a place that has grown to 3000+ Kenyan developers, designers, and entrepreneurs with connections in the corporate, academic and investor sectors.

An avid blogger, Erik writes two different technology-related blogs - AfriGadget and WhiteAfrican. He is frequently a speaker at meetings and conferences dealing with technology in Africa, mapping, blogging and web application development, including; TEDPopTechDEMOPicnicSXSWWhere 2.0 and Web 2.0.  He is a TED Senior Fellow, a PopTech Faculty Fellow, sits on the Safaricom Innovation Board and is a founding organizer of Maker Faire Africa. (Source: http://ushahidi.com/about-us/team/)

Flying Donkey Challenge: Pioneering a new transport system of large cargo robots in Africa and beyond

Flying donkeys are large cargo robots with rugged air frames capable of lifting heavy suitcase loads over long distances. The first commercial flying donkeys, due in Africa by 2020, will carry at least 20 kilos over 50 kilometres in less than one hour. Since Africa is growing too fast to build out its road network, transportation will have to be supplemented from the sky. It is hoped that tens of thousands of low cost flying donkeys will be operating on established networks in Africa and globally within a generation, lifting Africa by creating jobs and enabling e-commerce and community to community exchanges in a shared economy. (Source: http://www.flyingdonkey.org/)

Afrigadget - Solving everyday problems with African ingenuity

Afrigadget - Solving everyday problems with African ingenuity. A great source of inspiration for Afro-Tech! 

 "AfriGadget is a website dedicated to showcasing African ingenuity. A team of bloggers and readers contribute their pictures, videos and stories from around the continent. The stories of innovation are inspiring. It is a testament to Africans bending the little they have to their will, using creativity to overcome life’s challenges." (Source: http://www.afrigadget.com/about/)

Adhocism: The Case for Improvisation (1973)

Interesting find: In 1973 Architects and theorists Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver wrote Adhocism: The Case for Improvisation. Jencks coined the term in 1968.

"It can be applied to many human endeavours, denoting a principle of action having speed or economy and purpose or utility. Basically it involves using an available system or dealing with an existing situation in a new way to solve a problem quickly and effectively. It is a method of creation relying particularly on resources which are already at hand."(Source: http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/sustainable-product-design/adhocism-the-case-for-improvisation/?page=1)

Lagos: Meeting Jude Anogwih at CCA Lagos

At CCA's library - Inke Arns and Jude Anogwih. Thanks for opening up the El Anatsui show for us on a Saturday!
Check out http://www.ccalagos.org/ for more information.

Lagos: Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries

Inke first thought this was the Lagos Fire Department. But no: It is one of the many (Pentecostal) ministries of Lagos!

Lagos: Third Mainland Bridge

Third Mainland Bridge (official name: Ibrahim Babangida Bridge) is the longest of three bridges connecting Lagos Island, Lagos, Nigeria to the mainland, the other two being the Eko and Carter bridges. It is the longest bridge in Africa. The bridge was built by Julius Berger Nigeria PLC and opened by President Ibrahim Babangida in 1990; it measures about 11.8 km in length. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Mainland_Bridge)

Lagos: the largest city in Africa

Lagos is a port and the most populous city in Nigeria. It is the second fastest-growing city in Africa and the seventh in the world. The population of Lagos according to the Lagos State Government, was 17.5 million. These figures are however disputed by the Nigerian Government and judged unreliable by the National Population Commission of Nigeria. The latest reports estimate the population at 21 million, making Lagos the largest city in Africa. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagos)

Lagos: Inside and on top of Co-Creation Hub Lagos

Great working environment in Lagos. Inside and on top of Co-Creation Hub Lagos. Playing table tennis on the sixth floor overlooking Lagos is just incredible. And the color of the fake lawn is so very soothing to the eyes after driving around Lagos the whole day. Check out http://cchubnigeria.com/

Lagos: Co-Creation Hub Lagos

On the rooftop of Co-Creation Hub Lagos, from left to right: Inke Arns, Artistic Director of HMKV Dortmund, Tolu Agunbiade, Community Manager of Co-creation Hub Lagos, Chika Okafor, Co-Organiser of Maker Faire Afrika (Lagos 2012), Anne Bergner, Professor of Design at Hochschule Coburg.
On the rooftop of Co-Creation Hub Lagos, from left to right: Tolu Agunbiade, Community Manager of Co-creation Hub Lagos, Chika Okafor, Co-Organiser of Maker Faire Afrika (Lagos 2012), Anne Bergner, Professor of Design at Hochschule Coburg.

More pictures of STA's amazing tricycle

The tricycle inventor/maker himself demonstrating how easy it is to replace part of the vehicle (all the parts, be they metal or wood, are hand made).
 Official Lagos Boy coat of arms (hand painted).
Inke taking a ride in STA's trike.
From left to right: Tricycle with Nigerian flag, Inke Arns, STA, Anne Bergner

Lagos: NEST (Nurture Emancipate Strategise Target)

"NEST (Nurture Emancipate Strategise Target) is an ideas to fruition platform which aims to help person(s) with ideas realize their dreams of making meaningful products beneficial to humanity (society) by providing a conducive physical space and virtual (online) environment for tinkering, experimenting and connecting them with a supportive community of like minds, mentors and funding to help realize their set out objectives, goals and projects."


Chika Okafor
A self taught designer, entrepreneur & producer of Maker Faire Africa 2012 Nigeria. A connector / catalyst with interests in designs for social good & entrepreneurship.

Emeka Okafor
An entrepreneur/venture catalyst who lives in New York City. His blog, Timbuktu Chronicles spurs dialogue in entrepreneurship, technology and scientific methods in Africa.

Ugo Okafor
An Architect with vast experience in Asia, Africa & Europe with interests in sustainable tropical architecture with an emphasis on adaptation of local materials to the built environment.

Lagos: Amazing trike hacker "STA"

Meeting with "STA", the maker of this great tricycle ... now fitted with a roof, comfortable seating, fully equipped with a nice big sound system, 4 big silencers in the rear, drink holders for both driver and passengers, a home made Nigerian flag, no number plate but an official emblem and a reversed Nike logo on the right door.
"Let’s put it this way, anyone who rides such an eye-catching bike without a license plate, and who has no worries of the cops hassling him because of it, is certainly cut from a different cloth. When stopped, STA simply points to the Nigerian flag flying on the front and explains that it’s all the license he needs. (I kid you not)" (Maker Faire Africa Blog)

Lagos: Maker Faire Africa 2012: "To Be a Maker is Not a Day Job"

Check out these amazing makers: Maker Faire Africa Lagos 2012, organised by Bahy Aboelezz, Emeka Okafor, Henry Barnor, Erik Hersman, Mark Grimes, Ahmed Youssry, Louisa Mekenkamp, Emer Beamer, Linnet Kwamboka, Chika Okafor, Lars Torres, Jennifer Wolfe, Nii Simmonds, Senongo Akpem, http://makerfaireafrica.com/

Lagos: Urine Powered Generator Invented by four Nigerian schoolgirls

Three of the four school girls of Doregos Academy (Lagos) who invented the Urine Powered Generator, first presented at the Maker Faire Africa in Lagos in 2012. 1 liter of urine gives you 6 hours of electricity. The inventors are Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin and Bello Eniola (next to Inke is their chemistry teacher). Thanks to Chika Okafor for making this meeting possible!

Johannesburg: JoziHub

From left to right: Inke Arns, Anne Bergner, Annie Lopes, at JoziHub, Johannesburg
JoziHub is a co-creation space in Johannesburg dedicated to creating sustainable change in Africa: http://jozihub.org/

Johannesburg: Robohand, Centurion

This is an amazing project: Robohand (http://www.robohand.net/) -- a 3D-printed artificial hand. So far, 200 people have been enabled by Robohand.

Can I make my own Robohand?
- Yes. If you have access to a 3D printer you can print the hand. If you can source the hardware and Orthoplastic, there are assembly manuals on Thingiverse that can assist you.
(Source: http://www.robohand.net/faq/)

At what age can I get a Robohand?
- With smaller children, we recommend between the ages of 2-3 years old. This will also depend on the size of the hand that is required, as we cannot make them too small as they lose functionality.
- You are never too old to receive a Robohand either.
(Source: http://www.robohand.net/faq/)

How many fingers must I be missing before I can get a Robohand?
- If you are missing only one finger, you will be assessed for a Robofinger.
- If you are missing more than one finger, you will be assessed for a Robofinger or a Robohand.
- If you are missing all your fingers, you will be a candidate for a Robohand.
(Source: http://www.robohand.net/faq/)

Johannesburg: House4Hack, Centurion

Quentin Harley, inventor of RepRap Morgan (see also http://www.htxt.co.za/2013/06/18/reprap-morgan-south-africas-answer-to-3d-printing/), at House4Hack, Centurion.

 Ain't this a wonderful CI? We simply love it!
"RepRAP Morgan is all about a dream.  A dream to make it easy for anyone in South Africa, or anywhere else in the world to build a 3D printer without needing exceedingly expensive materials, hard to find components, stuff that has to be shipped at sometimes more than the cost of the components, requiring advanced tools." (http://reprap.harleystudio.co.za/?page_id=117)

Botfarming at House4Hack, Centurion (this is the workplace of an 8-year-old boy), www.house4hack.co.za
This is where the tech-geeks meet (go there on a Tuesday night and you will meet them all): http://www.house4hack.co.za/

Johannesburg: Meeting Christo Doherty and Tegan Bristow, University of the Witwatersrand

 Left: Inke Arns, right: Christo Doherty, Head of Digital Arts, Wits School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Concrete architecture, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Nairobi: At the Nairobi National Museum

Another selfie in front of the Nairobi National Museum - note the columns made from red bricks!
 Mau Mau weapons - a kind of early Jua kali?

Nairobi: Man sweeping the parking lot of the Parklands Sports Club in Nairobi with a special broom

Nairobi: Jua Kali (Swahili for "hot sun") - Kenya's Informal Sector

Today we learned about "Jua Kali" - Kenya's Informal Sector. Kenya was where the term “informal sector” was first used in 1971. During the 1980s the term “jua kali”—in Swahili “hot sun”—came to be used of the informal sector artisans, such as carworkers and metalworkers, who were working under the hot sun because of a lack of premises. Gradually it came to refer to anybody in self-employment. And in 1988 the government set up the Jua Kali Development Programme. Today the National Museum of Nairobi dedicates an entire section to this practice.

Here are some links:

Mark Wiens: "Jua Kali – The Informal Kenyan Sector for 'Git Er Done'", July 24, 2011

Kenneth King: Jua Kali Kenya: Change and Development in an Informal Economy, 1970–1995, 1996

Steve Daniels: Making Do: Innovation in Kenya's Informal Economy, 2010

Reviews of "Making Do" (2010):
Mandy de Waal: "New book on Kenya's informal sector, some great lessons", 22 Sep 2010

Jenara Nerenberg: "Africa's Informal Economy Revealed: New book synthesizes activities of informal product designers", August 23, 2010

Steve Daniels: "African Tech Makers: Selections from the New Book Making Do", Aug 27, 2010

Nairobi: Meeting Odoch, Donna and Nora at the Parklands Sports Club

From left to right: Inke Arns, Odoch Pido, Anne Bergner, Donna Pido, Nora de Groot - on Saturday morning, 12 April 2014 at the Parklands Sports Club, Nairobi

Downtown Nairobi

Downtown Nairobi, 11 April 2014.

Nairobi: Meeting Mugethi Gitau at iHub, Nairobi

Anne Bergner & Mugethi Gitau at iHub, Nairobi, 11 April 2014
Mugethi Gitau & Inke Arns at iHub, Nairobi, 11 April 2014
Mugethi Gitau & Inke Arns at iHub, Nairobi, 11 April 2014