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MAY 14, 2008

We all know it’s the worst of times; here’s a glimpse of the best
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WEBSITE: AfriGadget

Most of the news from Africa is grim (AIDS, Mugabe, Darfur), but the website AfriGadget, founded by Erik Hersman, who grew up in Sudan and Kenya, provides a smart (and entertaining and celebrity-free) corrective to the recent stream of depressing headlines. The blog site allows you to see a frequently updated catalogue of ingenious devices — like a motorized bicycle that gets about 100 miles per gallon (or 60 miles on a full two-liter tank) — that Africans have invented to solve their everyday problems.

Useful inventions for powering schools and villages are inspiring, but some of the site’s most ambitious projects are jaw-dropping. In particular, check out the profile of a Nigerian who built a working helicopter out of scrap metal and car parts. If someone could start a relief organization to get serious technology into the hands of these do-it-yourselfers, maybe we’d have moon colonies by the end of the year — or at least longer-lasting cell-phone batteries.

Note: The site is best viewed with Safari or Internet Explorer.

VIEW A helicopter made from scrap

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