Real African ingenuity at MFA 09

I have never been to a fair of African inventors before but I have seen snippets on television over the last few years. Sometimes it’s pretty boring watching some so called African inventions that do not even meet the standards of primary school kids.
But for those of you who think African inventions are still in the primary school ages, you better reset your minds. I was totally thrilled and mesmerized during the Maker Faire Africa 2009 event held in Accra, Ghana.

Visitors were fascinated at the wonderful and interesting inventions displayed at the event. The innovations ranged from cream heater to a cooler made from roofing sheets, pipe and jute as well as living room chairs made out of plastic water bottles.

“MFA ‘09 has changed my perception about Africa. With the little that I have seen here I think Africans can make it by themselves,” Christy Brown, a student from Ashesi University told my news agency – AfricaNews.

Among some of the inventions on display were locally manufactured radio transmitter by students from Accra Polytechnic, cassava grating machine, locally made latrine hand washer for primary schools, corn planter, shea nut roaster among others. Most of the items displayed were made from scraps and cheap materials in town.

Believe in ourselves

“It’s about time Africans believed in themselves. We must have the can do spirit and we’ll be able to produce for ourselves and even sell to the Western world. I’m lost for words and find it hard to believe fellow Africans invented these,” Charles Koomson, a local journalist said.

A school drop-out who happened to build a local windmill – William Kamkwamba – from Malawi said he was inspired by windmill pictures that he saw in books in a community library. “Once someone had made it I believed I could make it too and I am happy I did. I hope to train a lot more of the local folks and to eventually start it on a commercial venture.”

Emeka Okafor – co-founder of MFA – said he is impressed with turnout so far. He said MFA 09 is just the beginning of what Africans have under their sleeves for the world. “I am happy to see the smiles and surprise on the faces of our visitors. Africa has something to tell the world and this is just a fraction of the whole,” a visibly elated Okafor stated.

MFA was an event focused on bringing together acts of ingenuity and inventions from across the Africa continent. The 3-day event attracted a sizeable number of visitors at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT.


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August 2009
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