creativity in Africa

Saw this fascinating site showing creative talent of people making things in Africa. Inventors at work making things such as a simple water pump, and a satellite telephone that has a battery thats charged up from a bicycle, this home made helicopter from recycled parts of a Toyota is simply awesome though.Stuff like this quite excites me, as these people are a world away from the wasteful disposable attitude of the west, and have an abundance of creative and resourcefulness with limited materials, this kind of attitude to solving problems is something the rest of world should be adopting.

Many 3rd world countries are about to get computers given to children, the $100 laptop known as the OLPC (one laptop per child) project aims to provide IT to kids everywhere in developing countries. Running Linux and able to have the batteries charged by a hand crank or solar power, this is a completely new approach to IT infrastructure as no hard disk or CD drive but using flash memory and tough construction able to survive harsh environments, this proves an incredibly exciting initiative. People have criticised the project due to not being able to stick the original target of $100, more like $170, its thought once the first production run of laptops has been shipped, and R&D costs, have been covered after a year or so this should much less. Where as you could reason people are more need of food, clean water and medicine, this uses the “teach a man to fish..” idea that people can get training on farming, healthcare, education and communications from what they find and share on the internet.

If you look at IT and cars, both are similar, as vehicles running on alternative fuel to petrol always get shown in the media as an exciting possibility of the future, but never quite get there. The knowhow for electric cars is there albeit with some limitations but
to me the real reason why cars on other fuels aren’t being adopted yet is that government haven’t found a workable business model yet to get tax from it.

With these low cost computers and technology provided in the right way, who knows, with a clean sheet of paper to build their IT infastructure, the African and South American developing nations may be able to teach the west a thing or to about technology.

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